Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

“In my mind, it’s an annoying thing unenlightened men do because their penises get more blood flow than their brains.”

Last week, a YouTube video went viral of a young woman’s walk through the streets of New York City.

She was unextraordinary and walked alone, silent. What might be extraordinary to some is how she was treated in that 10 hour walk. She was “catcalled” more than 100 times.

Some men just said a simple, “Hello,” while others shouted obscenities. No matter what the words said, their body language all yelled, “Gross.”

As a woman who has lived in New York, I’m less than shocked by this video. What I am shocked by is the backlash over it. Most people who watched it were surprised at what a nondescript, simply dressed woman can endure on a day to day basis. To me, it’s just a daily hassle.

Some men found nothing wrong with the behavior and flocked to the Internet to defend the blurred out jackasses in the video.

Then, even more women took to the Internet and news channels to defile these men for defending this deplorable behavior.

Hey, everyone – calm down. I deal with some form of catcalling every week, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s right. I also don’t think I’m being verbally assaulted, and I certainly don’t feel like my ears are being raped. That sounds like something a crazy feminist would call it, right?

In my mind, it’s an annoying thing unenlightened men do because their penises get more blood flow than their brains. If I could pat them all on the head and tell them: “No,” I would. It doesn’t really upset me, though.

I’m not saying that “verbal street harassment,” as the video calls it, isn’t a problem. It is. Luckily, I have gotten used to it; I have a thick skin. It’s not that easy for every woman. Some women so dread leaving the house because of the attention they will receive, even if it is considered positive. A man yelling, “Hey, beautiful,” might sound like a compliment to another man, but that thought process is completely lacking empathy.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of women who don’t want to be noticed. If that woman has big boobs, that’s nearly impossible. Even if those women opt to appear unattractive and wear ill-fitting clothes, there’s usually some man with X-ray vision who can sense her bangin’ body under dem jeans. Of course, if there was a man who had X-ray vision, he probably would use his powers for evil.

I guess the reason it’s so hard for women to describe verbal street harassment is because you can’t describe how it makes you feel. And that is the most important part. Anytime you’re on a street in a busy city, you have to rely on your gut. The hair on the back of your neck is what tells you if you should trust the stranger standing next to you or run away.

It’s hard to explain it. As a woman, you just know when a guy is being creepy. And let me tell you, all the men on that YouTube video are total creeps.

Just telling a woman hello is creepy, you ask? When it comes out in a slow guttural tone and includes a full on head turn, then yes, yes it is.

Those trying to defend these men never bring up the fact that these guys followed this girls ass with their eyes for many steps past her. How friendly!

The best way I can explain the difference between catcalling and a genuine greeting is to compare two cities: New York vs. New Orleans.

Walking through the French Quarter on a daily basis, I have anywhere from five to ten strange men say hello to me. Do I consider it “verbal street harassment”? No. I consider it Southern charm. Even when they yell, “Hey baby,” I’m not offended.

That’s New Orleans; everyone is friendly and vocal. In New York City? I don’t think so. People don’t even make eye contact with their sexual partners there.

I lived in New York City for five years and I didn’t get a genuine “hello” from a single stranger there the entire time. I would rarely even get the door held open for me. When I did, it usually included a full-on visual assault while I had to walk under the guy’s arm to get to my destination.

Maybe, men in New York City need to learn a little class. I don’t care if you call me “sweet thing” – just also ask how my day is going a shoot me a smile. I’ve had enough of the rape faces New York men have to offer.

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