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Mom's Take: Catcalling Is Not Street Harassment

Editor's note: A two-minute video by an anti-street-harassment group went viral this week. In "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman" the actress received more than 100 instances of catcalls, spurring responses of all kinds on race, gender, class and sexuality. We asked two moms for their take on catcalling.

“How are you doing today?”


“What’s up beautiful? Have a good day.”

“Hey, what’s up girl?”

“How are you doing?”

“Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.”

Were you offended by any of the above statements? Many of these sound like greetings from friends but they aren’t. These statements are what the “stop street harassment” movement is calling "harassment." In a video posted earlier this week, a woman is recorded, walking through the streets of New York and being "harassed" by men who tell her she’s beautiful, ask her to go out, ask how she’s doing and generally try to get her to give them some of her time.

THE OTHER MOM'S TAKE: Catcalling Is Street Harassment And Invades Our Space

It’s very sad that women identify this behavior as harassment when at no time did any of the men curse at her, yell at her, touch her or grab her. They used their words to try to get her attention. Sure, she may not have wanted the attention from any of them but she is walking in the “streets” and in this environment there are no set rules for interaction. They are not breaking the law by talking to her.

I find it hilarious that women are complaining that men need to control themselves when it comes to simple casual interactions with them, which really means: Let me control and dictate how you interact with me or else it is unacceptable and abusive.

Do you really think you can set the standard for how all men behave? How do you know that what you like is best for all women? Who is to say that your standard—what you believe is right—is the right way to be? Who gave you automatic power to decide what is acceptable and what is demeaning to women? Did you inherit this authority because of your race or privilege? Do you think it is your right to set men straight and lead them to better lifestyles and interactions?

This is the “street” style of approaching women. Will you go to a bar and say that men are harassing you for offering you a refreshment?

These men in this video were not harassing her; they were acknowledging another human being who is physically pleasing according to society’s standards. They were being the hunters that they innately are, except they can’t physically hunt because technological advances have taken away their need to do this, so they hunt with their words, which is all they have left to use. They are hanging out on the streets, looking for something to pique their interest and you walk by. You are casual entertainment to some and to others, you might be a chance at the coveted vagina. You are a prize and they are going to take action to get it.

These guys who hang out in the streets, well, this happens to be their best course of action when interacting with women. This is the “street” style of approaching women. When you are in the “street,” this is what you will get. When you are in a bar, you will experience men offering a handshake and asking to buy you a drink. Will you go to a bar and say that men are harassing you for offering you a refreshment?

If you go to a different country and men kiss you on the cheek as a greeting, will you be offended? Maybe you’ll try to tell them how they are wrong for their approach. Either way, you think your way of thinking is the "right" way of thinking, which means you feel you are superior.

These men have done nothing wrong. They gave her their best shot at catching the attention of a beautiful woman when they had mere seconds to do so. There are many women who never receive this type of reception in public; if these men greeted them, they would return the greeting out of appreciation.

There is no reason for a woman to become upset by unknown men offering compliments unless she has been traumatized by a man at some point in her life and reacts to all men fearfully or she believes that men are inferior and she needs to control every aspect of their behavior.

RELATED: Catcalling Is Street Harassment and Invades Our Space

If you have been traumatized by men, try to seek help to understand that all men are not out to hurt you and you don’t have to feel like a victim every time you go out in the streets. If you simply need to dictate every man’s behavior to feel comfortable in this world, try focusing on controlling the man you have at home—I’m sure he likes it.

Or both types of women can learn to ignore their behavior—they're just words.

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