Shut it down: Catcalling

This is going to be a quick one, y’all. I saw this infographic (image below) on Feministing today and it disturbed me, to say the least.

I decided to respond to it because I think it’s doing that thing that often happens in the [white-] feminist movement where sex positivity is thrown around as cover for the misogyny of seemingly progressive people. I’d say the person who wrote this means well by it, but the spokesperson here is Playboy, which as we all know, has a long and profitable history of objectifying women and perpetuating patriarchal standards of beauty. Street harassment affects women who rely on public transportation (so as suburb-dwellers, car-commuters, may be tempted to write it off as “not a problem.”) And it disproportionately affects women of color and LBTQ people (Playboy doesn’t have a sparkling record in those departments, either). So, unlike some of the commenters on Feministing, I don’t buy it. Tainted well. My take:

should-you-catcall-herTo read documentations of personal accounts of street harassment, check out the hashtag #YouOKSis on Twitter (warning: this could be triggering, it’s overwhelming to see it happening in real time to so many people). For more info on combating catcalling, visit Hollaback, Stop Telling Women to Smile, or Stop Street Harassment or consider how you can intervene as a bystander when you see it happening.


And if you need a palate cleanser, take a look at what male allies do:


2 thoughts on “Shut it down: Catcalling

  1. Dan says:

    Your critique of the flow chart is based on picking out the parts in orange which are offensive statements. You then point out how those statements are incorrect. For example, “Is that booty bangin’?” and “Does she have those legs that go on for days?” are both offensive questions because, as you point out, they do objectify women.

    But that’s the point! The flow chart is satirical. The author is not suggesting that these questions are something you should actually consider. It is making fun of people who think these questions are somehow relevant at all.

    You annotations seem to indicate that you think the author would disagree with you on those points. But the author clearly agrees with you! By posing those questions in such a manner, the author is criticizing those who think they are somehow relevant.

    In context, the point of this flowchart is that you should never, ever yell sexual things at women, or harass them. This is confirmed by the fact that every path leads to “No”.

    While your critiques would be legitimate if this was really a flow chart designed to help a man decide whether or not to harass a woman, that is not the case. It seems the satire was lost on you.

  2. Most of the affirming responses to this that I saw online we’re not treating it as satire. I know many young, sex-positive feminists who are legit confused about whether or not objectification is okay. And given the source, there’s obviously some attempt at misdirection at work here.

    Even if this is satirical, I’m not sure that helps. Writing it from a “meathead” point-of-view and then turning on a dime at the end suggests that the problem is the end point and not the objectification or power plays along the way. I stand by my comments on this one. But thanks for keeping me honest.

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