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!