So I’m reading this article about catcalls and how men make women feel uncomfortable with overt sexual advances:
A guy at a bar saying he wants to buy me a drink because I’m cute followed by a hand on my thigh. A business meeting where a man interrupts my discussion of the contract to inform me he thinks we would have great sex. A man standing on my lawn right outside my study window, watching me. A man standing beside me at a crowded bar, crossing his arms to hide his fingers as they reach toward me to caress my breast through my blouse.
It’s really easy to read this and sort of roll your eyes. Like, Jesus, these are just people who are demonstrating their attraction to you. Yes, they’re obviously coming on too strong and they should tone it down, but this attention is fundamentally positive. I can imagine a guy reading this and saying ‘I’d love it if a woman did that to me!’
You could compare this with gay male culture, in which explicit sexual advances are known as ‘small talk’. Getting this kind of attention from creepy old dudes is par for the Friday night course, and I never come home traumatized. Can’t these women just get over it?
This is an objectively shitty attitude and, I imagine, one of the primary factors preventing this kind of low-grade sexual harassment from being taken seriously as a kind of bullying.
When I guy thinks ‘this wouldn’t bother me,’ he’s probably envisioning himself being aggressively pursued by a (probably decent-looking) female.
I think it would be instructive for men to instead imagine of a scenario in which they are aggressively tickled by a 300-pound bald man in a prison jumpsuit. ‘What, you don’t like this?’ he would say, picking you up and slinging you over his shoulder. ‘I’m just playing.’
It’s not the harassment itself that creates the anxiety for women. It’s the implied threat of violence. This is why muscled gay men over 6’4” should make it their duty to sexually harass fratboys at least once per week. For solidarity.