Monday, March 25, 2019

Cosmopolitan Does A Social Experiment On Catcalling And It Backfires

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This week, Cosmopolitan published an article about the danger of catcalling.

The author, Alex Berg, claims that catcalls are nothing more than “an effort to scare us into taking up less space in the world.”

Umm no. Honey, you’ve got the wrong idea. I’m pretty sure weight loss programs are an effort to scare people into taking up less space in the world, particularly in airplanes and crowded bars.

Nonetheless, she continues. She starts with a fateful lede: “The summer of 2017 marked a less-than-illustrious anniversary for me. It’s been 20 years since I was first catcalled.”

Oh come on. I was expecting something like a 20 year anniversary since you were bitten by a shark or had to relocate because your house was swept away by a hurricane. Those are things worth mourning.

Marking the anniversary of your first catcalling is like marking the date you first had to wait in line for a public restroom. It stinks but everyone goes through it.

And I know a lot of people are going say I’m “sexist” and “insensitive” and “making excuses for catcallers.” I’m not. I don’t like when any human feels objectified. But this is beside the point. Berg herself feels that catcalling isn’t about attractiveness, but rather power.

In trying to explain the universality of catcalling, she says:

Whether I was with my girlfriend, friends or family, from Manhattan to the Hamptons, walking by suits or construction workers, from the morning until night, I was harassed by men of all ages and backgrounds, at all times of day, in a group or when I was alone. 

If Berg really wanted to understand those less fortunate than her, she shouldn’t be strolling leisurely through the Hamptons. Go to Detroit, suburban Texas, or the Middle East, then tell us about it. But the Hamptons disqualify you. Casually strolling around “from morning until night” by yourself sabotages your narrative.

For gender non-conforming LGBTQ people, and trans women of color especially, street harassment can quickly escalate from a verbal exchange to fatal violence.

Don’t even start to play that card. Non-conforming groups, whether they’re LGBTQ, communists, or just radicalized students, aren’t helpless. Antifa attacked a disabled vet last week. That person was helpless.

Berg also claims she got catcalled no matter her attire. She wore nothing but “baggy shorts,” except for one hot day. Well I did a little research into Ms. Berg and found not one photo of her wearing baggy shorts. Rather, her timeline is filled with outfits like these:

That’s her, second in from the right.

Here’s what I’ve been taught about catcalling. It’s going to happen. It’s always happened, for better or for worse. There are lewd people in this world who haven’t been told to keep their mouths shut. If comments make us uncomfortable, we can either notify our aggressor or wear. real. clothes.

Fuming about it in a magazine column and scaring readers with inflammatory sweeping statements like “male fragility — and disregard for consent — feeds into violence against women and queer folks far beyond public spaces,” is not helping anyone. Sometimes in life, we’re going to feel offended. My only suggestion for Alex is to experiment with some more with opaque attire, then get back to me.

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