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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

16

Female New York Post Writer Feels Differently Than Other Women

Today there was something stupid in the New York Post, stop the blog! In an op-ed the paper helpfully titled "Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with it" for ultimate trolliness, writer Doree Lewak explains why she revels in and seeks out the thing most women having lovingly come to know as "street harassment."

When I know I’m looking good, I brazenly walk past a construction site, anticipating that whistle and “Hey, mama!” catcall. Works every time — my ego and I can’t fit through the door!

But she concedes:

I realize most women with healthy self-confidence don’t court unwanted male attention.

Here is a thing: if you are courting it, it's not unwanted. That's just what "courting" means, and just precisely what "unwanted" doesn't mean. And that's fine, basically! If hearing, "HEY SEXY" on her lunch break is so truly Doree Lewak's jam, then that is cool for her. Women – hell, people – can feel however they feel about the things that happen to them in this world. But here is where things get NY Post-alternate-universe bizarre:

I’ve learned that it’s not what you wear — the skimpy sundresses, the sky-high heels — but how. Walking confidently past a mass of men, making eye contact and flashing a smile shows you as you are: self-possessed and playful.

Like so many other things that women are doing wrong, getting catcalled is really about confidence. That is a very nice idea (relatively, in this article) – that the women being hooted at on the street are the ones who are literally and enthusiastically asking for it with their sexy sex eye contact – but it's pretty demonstrably untrue.

Recently, I was doing an extremely cool thing and taking myself to see What If, the Daniel Radcliffe rom com, and thinking the deep thoughts I think when I'm alone, namely, "why can't I have a meet-cute? I'm a nice enough looking lady in a big city and I rarely meet anyone out in the world." I was standing on an escalator somewhere in midtown Mindy Kaling-ing in my own mind, and when I looked up an accidentally made eye contact with an attractive human male on the opposite escalator. And in response to our locked eyes, my face went into full glower. This is the learned behavior of a decade in New York, and I'm not super proud or pleased with it, but then two things happened: the cute bro looked away (because I was glaring at him, like a cool, friendly girl), and an older, more disheveled man, said, "Smile, baby! Your tits are happy!"

"Smile" is the reason I walk around in a full suit of facial expression armor. I'm pretty mad that "smile" is mucking up my game with dudes I would actually want to talk to, but I live in fear of inviting conversation, because I have been in those conversations. While I've been told that I "walk in a way that does not invite the male gaze" and been presumed from my gait to be a Hasidic woman (I'm Irish Catholic, but I like mid-calf-length skirts), I've also been told by a stranger that my ass looks like breakfast. None of the armor stops the comments. Which, to be clear, are rarely compliments like Doree's example, "You're beautiful" and more like, "“I like your nipples,” a remark Doree admits is "a crude comment beyond the point of no return." But "I like your nipples" is exactly the kind of thing dudes who don't care that you don't want to talk to them need to say. You don't want to engage with them, so there's no time for beauty, there is only time for nipples. Anyways, ladies, don't worry, just be yourself: confident or happy or angry or deeply depressed or catatonic, and those catcalls will still come.

To sum up, here's Doree with a history lesson:

I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention.

Well, nothing about this vision of Egyptian slaves and ancient Hebrew women rings untrue to me! Point made!

[NY Post]

 



16 Comments / Post A Comment

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Awesome juxtaposition of the worst thing ever (this Doree person) with the best thing ever (turning "Mindy Kaling" into a verb.)

carolinaclay

Is So Awesome :) ... Very Good!!@y

Lindsay Robertson@facebook

You know the kind of woman who posts a selfie on Instagram and then random creepy dudes comment "hott!" and "gorgeous!" and "you are so beautiful I can't stand it!" and you see those comments and think "Oh my, how embarrassing, she hasn't seen these comments yet to delete them!" but then you realize the selfie is days old and she HAD to have seen them and then the same person continues to do this over and over and you realize that she's posting these selfies (each one with probably a hundred nearly identical versions, to get it just right) FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE of getting these comments and then you feel really sorry for her and stop following her? Well this seems like that same kind of thing. Only in the real world. (Also this is a really surprising number/percentage of otherwise accomplished women!)

Clare

@Lindsay Robertson@facebook I read a thing once: "Pretty girls want to hear that they're smart. Smart girls want to hear that they're pretty."

causedbycomma

@Clare Sad but true.

LilyB

35 in Chicago here. Well, I actually live in the suburbs and commute, which includes a 1-mile walk past 3-5 construction sites and plenty of dudes. In 7 years of commuting, I can count the number of comments I've received on one hand, and most of them have been harmless (not aggressive or obscene) or even sort of nice. It's much more common to get a nod or a "good morning" from a construction worker or any other guy. Am I lucky? A little too old? Are men better behaved in Chicago?

causedbycomma

@LilyB That is my experience exactly! Maybe I've just been sticking to the wrong (or right) neighborhoods.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@LilyB I think it can depend on a ton of factors. Some women, through no fault of their own, might just "seem" like easier targets to men? And yeah, some of it is just being in the (right? wrong?) place at the (right? wrong?) time.
I know a girl on Twitter who recently moved to my city and says she gets street harassed "constantly." I would never describe it as "constantly" or say it's terrible, especially compared to some other places (New York sounds kinda rough) but she's from a small town so maybe "constantly" to her just means "more often than never", or it just happens more often to her than it does to me, which is also entirely possible.

chickaboom

@LilyB The level of street comments I have gotten dropped dramatically as soon as I moved to Chicago, besides a brief period of time when the el was under construction For Literally Ever and I had to walk down certain streets in summer garb.

The most brazen I've gotten in the last two years was this past week when a man on a bicycle said, "How about you? What are your hidden talents? Other than being gorgeous?" It's true that men are the ones who say hello in my neighborhood (clearly there's a reason for that), but thankfully it hasn't escalated to comments on my body (yet) and I'm thankful for that. Some pre-teens asked me if I had a boyfriend, once, also. This is relatively innocuous compared to past experiences in other cities.

I don't live in the nicest part of town, either. My impression is it IS partly a Chicago thing!

LMac

@LilyB It's a Chicago thing - from what I've seen, the men pretty much leave you alone. I've lived here for almost 10 years and the most I can recall being harassed was by an idiot trying to solicit money for save the whales or something, who was calling women "sweetie," "cutie" or "honey" and seemed genuinely shocked when I told him that was a piss-poor way to get women to open their wallets. "What, nobody ever called you cute before?!" BLARGH.

commanderbanana

Welp, this is disgusting. This makes me want to follow Doree "Chaff-For-Brans" Lewak around with bins filled with ice water and pigeon droppings and periodically drench her with them. "Oh I'm sorry! I just assumed by your confident strut and significant eye contact that you WANTED the ice cold water and pigeon droppings poured over you, because that's how I catcall ladies."
Also, Doree "My Brain May Be Made of Spam, We Just Don't Know" Lewak, those hunky Israeli construction workers you're referring to would have been, you know, enslaved. So fuck you too.

causedbycomma

In some, "The New York Post wants to get more page views, so it publishes something stupid in the hopes that people will click on it to hate it." NOPE.

StandardTuber

"Hey Baby; nice shirt!"
"Yeah, Baby! Where'd you get it?"
"Was it on sale? At Babys R Us?"
[drooling][the baby can't reply because it's a baby]
"See you later, Baby."

StandardTuber

"See, when you sublimate your rage SO MUCH that it ultimately becomes unknown to you, you start to believe the harassment is good for you. It's like a vitamin! It tastes gross, and you're not really sure why you have to take it, but you just know you should!"

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