native new yorker with dominican roots. writer of all things love, life, family, sex, friends and everything in between. a not so secret obsession with stringing along words to form perfect sentences - reflecting what the mouth can't say. 

“You should say thank you more.”

I know we all  know about the cat calling video that went viral (if you haven’t click here) and I saw all types of reactions. Men calling women “attention whores” (those are actually boys that need some growing up to do – but I’ll leave my opinion for later on), I saw women in a complete man hating rage, I saw men standing up for women and apologizing, I saw women just accept things as they are. I saw a lot of race and culture being thrown around too.

Everyone’s obviously entitled to their opinions, so in this post I’ll share two. One piece is from a friend, who is a guy and an extremely talented writer. I think most people can relate. Then I’ll give you my take on things.

A foolish defense, but hear me out.

I should start by saying that I am a dude. Hi.

Also, that I recognize that having a hanging set of genitals automatically disqualifies me from having an opinion on this matter (as I’ve been told over and over again). And in some ways I agree. But I am going to anyways.

A few weeks back – the now famed video – made by Hollaback group (a nonprofit movement to end street harassment blah blah blah) released their two-minute snippet of what they claimed was footage gathered over a period of ten hours. Frankly, I would’ve loved to see all ten hours but unfortunately the rest of the footage no longer exists.

So within 24 hours the internetz were in frenzy. It was men against women. Me against every girl I know.

There’s no other way to say it, the video achieved what it was made to do: expose a problem women deal with on a daily basis, to produce disgust for every man in the video, for men in general, and feel sympathy for the poor actress. I agree, the video was indeed disgusting, and if I can take a minute, I would like to apologize to every female I’ve ever glanced at on the street, said hello, and/or waved at in passing.

But here’s my point; you cannot categorize every intention from every guy that has ever said something to a stranger on the street from that video. It’s ludicrous.

Let’s analyze it quickly shall we:

We get an introduction that reads, “Ten hours of silent walking through all areas of Manhattan, wearing jeans and a crewneck t-shirt.” All right, this should be interesting, I thought.

The video is just under two minutes, and in those two minutes we get all sorts of men (I hope you noted the sarcastic font) shouting things at this poor young actress. Men like middle-aged blue collar workers, creepy dudes just loitering in the streets of Manhattan (uptown Manhattan at that), a bike messenger, some guy probably walking to work, aaand that’s about it; all who also clearly appear to be black and/or of Hispanic descent. However, when the video ends we get a conclusion that reads, “100+ instances of verbal street harassment took place within 10 hours, involving people of all backgrounds…” and so on. We only saw 18, with middle-aged or probably retired men being the general harassers. Oh and that creepy black guy that walks next to her for five blocks. He doesn’t count under anything but creep. That guy just has a loose bolt or something.

Now, I don’t want to say that the guy who edited the video from its ten hours of footage was being bias in its creation, but if you’re trying to exemplify a problem that every woman deals with on a daily basis, why not make sure to accurately portray that all men are indeed part of the problem?

In a response that I read from the video’s creator, he claims that they had tons of footage with all sorts of men shouting things at the actress, but due to the noisy city streets and inaudible dialogue, and his need to narrow down the very best of the worst, some of those scenes portraying white males had to be cut out. Ok dude. Sure. 

I recognize now that seeing a pretty girl walking down the street is not an invitation for me to go up and talk to her, or say anything for that matter, or even acknowledge her. They most likely want to be left alone and go about their day like a regular average Joe, or Jane. I get that. Except in an argument with an acquaintance about this subject, I was told that men feel as if they have the power to say whatever they want to a female on the street; that in that instance where a guy says something to a girl on the street we are showing our power over her…sure, maybe some men do feel that way.

But whether I’m alone in what I’m about to say and no other fellow agrees with me, I will stand by this for as long as I live: In the instance that I approach a pretty girl on street, or wherever it may be, I have no power. I hold nothing but the courage I built to approach her, to look at her, to smile like a doofus in an attempt to create mutual recognition of one another. If anything, the power, or lack of, comes after. If she so happens to wave or say hello back, and if I’m extremely lucky to learn her name. So everything is conditional, every instance containing its own context.

I can admit that I’m not the handsomest guy out there. And I’m sure any notable dame wouldn’t bother taking a second look at me, which I’m ok with, but this is my peeve; any girl approached by a Christian Gray looking motherfucker wouldn’t think twice about harassment. She’d welcome the recognition of someone so attractive, and be happy to have been acknowledged by someone as good looking as her. And if you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “No. I would never feel that way,” then picture Mr. Gray in his best suit approach you while you’re waiting to cross the street. And realize that you doll, are full of shit in this moment. But that’s beside the point. I am neither angry nor jealous of good looking guys that can outdo me; we’re all blessed with our own strengths and talents. I just want you to see how everything in this matter I’m commenting on comes with its own context, its own set of conditions that only applies to that particular moment in time. But if the universe would’ve made me a bit taller, that would’ve been cool too.

I can go on with explanations and opinions on this, because in some ways it also deals with the culture in which we’re raised in. Where men chase women, where we woo women and howl like wolves at the moon, or Jim Carrey as The Mask when he sees Cameron Diaz for the first time. I mean who can blame him? She’s gorgeous in that movie. So call us dogs, charlatans, sleazebags, whatever you like, because I don’t blame you. I’m guilty of behaving in such a way myself.

But the context of the video we saw was simply to expose the sleazebags that do shout things at girls all day just because they feel like they can. And like all of you, I am enraged by those men as well. I know each and everyone of you has their own horror story to tell, and if it counts for anything, I’m sorry for all the instances of terror you had to suffer because of my kind and me. But ladies, there is always two sides to every coin. And on my side, I only hope to lighten your day how seeing you lightened mine. Because it’s my belief that making a girl smile, whether a stranger or not, just makes the world go ‘round.

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Dude.

Now, hear me out:

I agree that all men should not be grouped in this giant “men are dogs” category – I don’t think as humans we should categorize people in general. So yes, you’ve got a point there. And I also respect you and all the other men who apologize for their non requested catcalling. I also appreciate your perspective – I get it.

Being a woman in New York, you get the “god bless you’s” and the “you’re beautifuls” and those are comments that are appreciated, thank you very much. However, like my friend said, some of us just want to go about our days. Who gave you the permission to even speak to me? And I do not say this in a condescending manner where I see myself above men, no. I say this in a respectful manner, as anyone would think – I do not carry a sign that says “Please, talk to me.”

This is a deeper issue than just random catcalling though. This is about rape culture and what women are taught at a young age from society. We have an instinct to protect ourselves from men. I can smile and say thank you but then what? Some men feel the need to take it further; whether it is a polite conversation or you want to have sex with me, what makes men feel entitled to have the authority to speak to me? And again, I want to emphasize that I  don’t say this to be rude, I just want to shed light on this bigger issue.

Excuse us women if we decide to ignore you because society teaches us (both men & women) and what we learn from experience is not to acknowledge men because if not we are “asking for it,” we “want the attention,” we’re “giving an invitation” to whatever comes next.

When I was in high school, I was on a semi crowded train and a man stepped closer behind me, as if there weren’t any space in the cart and whispered “you’re beautiful” to me with a complete boner rubbing against me. Luckily, the train was stopping and I pushed him back, I cursed him out and got off the cart. I guess some would say I was asking for it because I had on my uniform skirt on and knee highs. I guess some wouldn’t. But again, what the f*ck do I say to that? Am I supposed to thank you for the compliment as you harassed me on the train? And then go on my merry way, politely thanking every man that approaches me?

When I was in college, I visited home and a man literally followed me for five blocks and into my apartment building. I had to leave the building again and pretend I was going to a store before he disappeared. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe f*cking not.

Anyway, like I said, I don’t want to group every man into this horrible category. But regardless of the video being 2 mins, 10 hours, or 5 days – as a woman, the point isn’t that it was in a bad neighborhood, or that there were only men of color, or that she was a beautiful model. I don’t care what the man looks like. This is about WOMEN AND RAPE CULTURE. It’s about the misogynistic outlook that because women are beautiful, we require to be told that we are, we require an approach, or that we are wrong for ignoring the comments. Believe me, we are not wrong. Women do not owe men anything, women do not have the obligation to be polite. Women can be bitches, definitely including myself. But please, understand why.

At this point, we can’t change society and you cannot change our need to feel that we have to protect ourselves walking down New York City streets. I can’t feel sorry men. I don’t feel sorry for the fact that women are taking charge of their own lives and reacting. Because that’s what humans do, we react – the same way a man’s ego reacts when they’re rejected.

Understand that it is not about you. It’s about us.

New Days.

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