Reported by Nich Johanssen
The issue of catcalling has recently been brought to the forefront of public discourse by way of viral video. The video, with over 36 million views, shows the depraved behaviour a woman walking around New York City has to deal with. Greetings. sick, twisted greetings like, “Hello, good morning” and “Have a good day.”
Now a quick double check confirms that I am not a female and I don’t begin to know what it might be like to walk down a sidewalk as one. But condemning all stranger-to-stranger discourse as harassment is a step in the wrong direction and makes for a pretty cold city.
But let’s call a spade a spade here. The majority of the comments in the video are made because the speaker finds the woman attractive. Catcalling is, in most cases, a form of sexual advance.
But since when are sexual advances a bad thing? Sex is one of the few things that is universally agreed upon to be a pretty positive thing, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or species for that matter.
Unwanted sexual advances on the other hand are no fun, and there is clearly a line that can be crossed. This line is hurdled across by some of the gentlemen in the video.
Following a woman down the street for blocks after she has made it clear she is not interested is harassment. A simple, “Hi, how are you doing this morning” is not, and it’s disingenuous to claim otherwise.
This grey area of appropriateness is subjective. While there are obvious clear-cut extremes, appropriate behaviour is dependent on the setting and the person. What is offensive harassment to some may be a flattering conversation starter to others.
How to not be a creep
Without drawing any hard lines on what is and what isn’t harassment, one can avoid being a creep quite simply. Don’t be a jerk. A person with any shred of social awareness can understand when your advance is wanted or not.
If your new friend is unreceptive to the stellar lines you’ve memorized from pick-up artist YouTube videos, then move on. Don’t take your bruised ego out on others.
Men and women alike should obviously have the freedom to walk down a public street without fear of harassment or fear for their safety.
Vancouver is poisoned with a mind-your-own-business attitude. Eye contact is avoided on public transit for fear of engaging in conversation with a stranger. Putting yourself out there and engaging with someone might not be the worst thing. Human interaction can go beyond a right-swipe on Tinder.
The NYC catcall video was posted in October in support of Hollaback, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending street harassment.