We’re back! I would of course like to apologize for my extended absence, and offer my explanation. My last post, about the House or Representatives’ grasp on science, did not go unnoticed. And so in the dead of night I was whisked to our nation’s capitol and brought before the House Science Committee to answer tough questions, such as “how does the internet work?” and “will you help me set up my email?”
For months I worked with them on these important topics, and I am happy to report they can now navigate to web pages with a success rate of nearly 50%.
While I was in Washington, one of the big stories that came out was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand revealing she was sexually harassed by other members of Congress. This raised quite a ruckus, and the media responded the only way they knew how, by talking about catcalls of women, and whether or not it’s offensive. It was a whole segment on The Daily Show as well.
Catcalling has always been fascinating to me, because I’ve never understood it. And while in D.C., a remarkable thing happened: Mrs. Sophist received a catcall.
I am, in many ways, disappointed I wasn’t there. I wanted to be able to study it, to see all of the variables and try to figure it out. Of course, everything would have worked out much differently had I not been there–it likely wouldn’t have even happened at all. And from a purely selfish perspective, I would have had no idea how to react. Should I act proud, because my wife was ‘worthy’ of being hit on by a stranger, using the method that has to have the lowest likelihood of success? Should I get confrontational for a man stepping to my woman (after all, I put a ring on her, so she’s basically my property)?
In reality, my brain probably would have frozen. I would have been so amused that it was happening, while perplexed that it was happening, and confused over what to do. I likely would have just started laughing hysterically.
But I don’t want to focus on me. And we’ll leave it to the mainstream media to argue about whether or not this practice of treating women like meat is sexist and unseemly.
Instead, I want to focus on the perpetrators of the catcalls, the men who provide them. Because that’s the part that fascinates me. In short, why?
What is the end goal with the catcall? Has it ever worked? I want to meet the couple who came together because the girl was walking down the street and the guy shouted a generic statement at her, which could possibly be considered a compliment.
So, without any realistic hope that it leads to anything between the two parties involved, what does the guy hope to gain? If you watched the full Daily Show clip, you will have seen one talking head admit to providing his own form of catcall, where he just applauds as a woman walks by. He claims to have a 90% success rate with that move, where his version of success is getting the woman to smile.
Jessica Williams took that down pretty well, and there’s no way to even know if the women were smiling because they felt genuinely flattered, or because they thought he was a buffoon, or because they were just trying to defuse the situation. In the same way, it’s impossible to know if the women on the set with that guy were laughing because they genuinely liked his “move,” or because they were laughing at him, or because they couldn’t believe what was happening in their studio.
It reminds me of the Saturday Night Live sketch with the Night at the Roxbury guys, who took any interaction with women as success. Even if it started with them “dancing” with a woman who is confused and uncomfortable, and ultimately winds up running away, leading them to high five while yelling “Score!”
If that’s how they’re defining success, then maybe catcalls are successful.
You would think that most catcallers are expecting more though. And, in fact, the guy who catcalled Mrs. Sophist seemed to. She felt uncomfortable and just kept walking away after he shouted out a generic “Hey sweetheart!” at her. Her lack of response led him to continue with, “Oh, you don’t like black guys.” He all but called her racist. Somehow, in his head, she was the bad person in this situation.
I could also see how guys in a group, especially young ones, could egg each other on to do something like that. Just messing around, that sort of thing. But in this case, the guy was just with a group of strangers at a bus stop.
Ultimately, I can only conclude that it’s some combination of laziness and cowardice. You see a girl you’d be interested in, but you don’t want to approach her and actually talk to her and try to impress her, either because you’re lazy or you’re afraid. So you pull the low risk, low reward move of calling out to her.
Or you’re like that guy who applauds, and have some strange idea of success that can never be understood by the common man.