(Left to Right): Peter Buffett, Jimmie Briggs, Joe Ehrmann, Tony Porter,
Dave Zirin and Moderator Eve Ensler.
I thought that song “Rude” was kinda… you know… rude? Like why is this dude gonna marry that girl whether or not her Dad says it’s okay? Why is he even asking if he’s gonna marry her anyway? But then I heard…
In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, “Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.
A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.
Yes please, explain to me again how this has nothing to do with sexism.
[TRIGGER WARNING for extreme misogyny, gendered slurs, sexual harassment, sexual violence, victim blaming, graphic rape and death threats]
- insert World’s biggest ‘ugh’ -
A few more gems from this segment:
- "They mean it in a nice way."
- "It’s nice to get compliments."
- "As long as you don’t come within arms length, it’s fine."
But for many women, catcalls are humiliating and degrading. Some blame themselves, wondering what they could have done differently to prevent it. And the consequences can considerably affect a person’s social behavior and habits, as women report “they avoid eye contact and walking alone in public, or change their outfits or routes to avoid harassment.”
In reality, this is no small problem. According to Stop Street Harassment, “at least 65% of women have experienced catcalls, leers, and unwanted sexual propositions,” disproportionately affecting those with low incomes, women of color, and the LGBTQ community. And while there are federal laws protecting women from workplace harassment, street harassment is addressed on a state-by-state basis.
Let’s bring some voices of reason into this discussion:
Catcalling does not mean you are beautiful, smart, strong or interesting. Catcalling means a stranger values you so little he doesn’t care if he makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened.
Catcalling is about control, not about your cute shorts. It’s an assertion that women are just visitors in a male space, there to be assessed by appearance and summarily dismissed or flirted with.
To legitimize catcalling is to give voice to those who don’t deserve it: the man who told me he wanted to perform oral sex on me, the man who said he wanted it the other way around and the man who said he could have me if he wanted me.
The dehumanizing culture of catcalling must stop, but conservative media outlets like Fox aren’t helping. It’s up to us all to educate ourselves about the harms of harassment, so that women can truly be free in the streets of America.