The recent spotlight that’s been shone on the issue of catcalling has been satisfying in a really meaningful way— not because it’s necessarily changed anything (any woman who spends time in public can tell you that it hasn’t), but because this was always a fairly invisible problem. Most men weren’t really aware of what women deal with, and how often. You can say something to a woman hat you feel is a compliment, but videos like the now famous “10 Hours of Walking in NYC As a Woman” gave a clearer picture of what that “compliment” feels like in the context of our whole day. Or more accurately, our whole lives.
But even though the issue is being talked about, it’s still hard to fully understand if it doesn’t affect you directly. So Cosmo (yes, that Cosmo, home of the college confessional and euphemistic blow job tips) had three guys watch hidden camera videos of their girlfriends being catcalled. And wouldn’t you know it, suddenly things hit home. A lot of things we women talk about but they maybe hadn’t actually seen suddenly came into focus. Things like:
—The total ubiquity of these comments.
—How WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING when you compliment some benign part of us. It’s “a way in,” and we f*cking know that.
—The way a simple comment is often followed up with a much more vulgar one. (Which YES, then makes us react negatively to any short, simple “compliment,” even if we otherwise, in a contextless world might have welcomed it. Which, to be honest, we still probably wouldn’t have.)
It’s incredible how seeing this all aimed at someone these guys love and feel protective towards makes it so personal. But it’s still not enough to really fully know what it is to have this directed at you. The last guy in the video seems to have had his eyes opened, but he still pulls out the old standby argument of “You’re somebody’s wife or daughter,” which is a nice start to understanding, but ultimately falls flat. (And is really of the point of this whole video.) Even if we had no father, no brothers, no husband or boyfriend, we’re still fucking human and we deserve to be respected, or at least left the hell alone.