Hey, people -- slut-shaming a woman for liking catcalls isn't feminism. Deal with it.

Doree Lewak of the New York Post wrote this article which has been making the rounds on social media alongside a wide variety of insulting fanfare. The accompanying insults (slut, dumbass, bimbo, attention-whore, idiot, etc. etc. etc.) are far more offensive than the article itself. 

What's worse is that oh so many of these insults are uttered (erm...written) in the name of none other than feminism itself. Because didn't you know... if a woman does not prescribe to your exact beliefs on those hot-button feminist issues, it's totally ok to insult and name call her. Yup. That's what feminism wants. #Feminism ! 

It's odd how the very people supposedly defending a woman's right to not be cat-called, are turning to name-calling in order to make that point. Such strange irony when you consider that name-calling is categorized as abuse

Erm, ok so...let me see if I got this straight... it's not ok to cat-call you, but you're allowed to verbally abuse someone with insults. Oh ok, cool, that's not a double standard at all.  (<--- SARCASM)

Let me make something very clear. I'm not writing this because I like cat-calling or think it's something that should keep happening. Personally, it makes me uncomfortable, but I'm also not going to pretend I've never been flattered either. A few months ago I was incredibly offended and said so when some guy told me to smile on the subway platform. I had my headphones in, walking with purpose, in a great mood making my transfer to the F train when dude to my right is mouthing something so I stop, take my headphones out thinking he needs directions because I'm helpful like that. But instead, he says: "Hey pretty lady, you should smile more." And that was literally the absolute most offended I've ever been by unsolicited male attention. Some people will agree, some people won't, but to me it was blood-boiling. You wanna call me pretty, fine whatever, but don't tell me what to do. I don't even know you, don't tell me what you want from me. I should walk around with some vapid smile-for-no-specific-purpose plastered to my face like a goddamn barbie? Am I here to adorn your world like some sort of prop? Must I smile lest my lack of whimsical, toothy grin upset your delicate male ego? Yeah, he was in for it. "Don't tell women to smile. Never. Don't ever do that. That is so offensive." And off I walked, taking to twitter to vent my frustration. If someone cat-calls you, or says anything to you in a way that you feel is offensive, say something. That's how you battle this kind of harassment, by speaking up when it matters. Not by taking to the comment-boards and social media and calling someone an idiot and a slut because she likes compliments from strangers.  

On the flip side, I've also had days where someone said something flattering in the form of what would be categorized as a cat-call and I wasn't offended at all. I was flattered. OH MY GOD -- female admits to being flattered by a compliment... get the slut-shame crew at the ready, people!

Sure, when I first saw the headline "Hey, ladies -- catcalls are flattering! Deal with it" -- I was all charged up to get offended. I don't like people telling me what to do, in headline form or otherwise. And I especially don't like being told to deal with something that I don't like nor should have to deal with. But headlines are written to be sensationalist or controversial. That's why the article exists, to explain. It's not a tweet. But in our "headline-only-reading-society" it's enough for people to just read that and skim the first paragraphs to know that they unequivocally disagree with every single word in the article. 

Sure, I don't exactly agree with it either. I had a hard time deciphering whether it was meant to be partially satirical, in fact.
But if you actually read the article... not skim, but read... you will find certain points that don't make you cringe. In fact, they make a lot of sense:


  • "Enjoying male attention doesn’t make you a traitor to your gender."
  • "Most of the time, we women can't shake a hurtful insult hurled 15 years ago -- but can barely recall a compliment from yesterday. My drive-by dose of confidence is the 10-second antidote to all that negative feedback in the real world, where reverberations stick."


Hmmm, interesting. Woman admits that there's a lot of hurtful, insulting, negative feedback in the world and that sometimes, it's nice to get a compliment instead, even if it is in the form of a cat-call. LET'S BASH HER WITH INSULTS TIL SHE CRIES! #FEMINISM!

This isn't an isolated situation. The onslaught of harassing comments written on the internet in regards to women, their opinions, their bodies, their feelings, their actions is sickening. Do you have any idea how much more damage that does to women, to feminism, to the human race as a whole? We live in a world where people jump on the insult, cyber-bully bandwagon without any regard to the person their insulting. The most harassed I've ever felt in my life was on the internet after winning the competition when some of my competitors and their very rude fans took to writing the nastiest things about me. Everything from stupid bitch to talentless slut... it was all in there. 

I'm not saying that any of this should turn you into a gung-ho, cat-call-seeking advocate. But that perspective is out there. There are women who do get off on it and it's not because they have low self-esteem, oh ye self-proclaimed internet psychologists. How fascinating that you can so quickly decipher the intricacies of another person's entire psychological and emotional existence based off their perspective on cat-calling. It's that easy!

And even if she did have low self-esteem, is that really the way to respond? Our society creates a slew of women who crave attention over their physical appearance because our society constantly rewards and heralds women (and people in general) for their physical appearance, but the moment someone admits to enjoying unsolicited comments about their physical appearance, they deserve to be criticized? Yikes. Our collective lack of thought and consideration about how we treat people is alarming. 

But the psycho-diagnostic genius of the average blog commenter, tweeter and Facebook-poster aside, Doree Lewak posting her opinion, as unpopular as she most likely knew it would be (and whether she meant it to be partially satirical or not), actually shows a lot of confidence and courage, which certainly does not signify "low self-esteem." 

I'd be willing to bet substantial amounts of cash that many women do like certain cat-calls but are too afraid to admit it. And that's the perspective that Lewak is trying to champion in her own way. From her description of how she goes about getting catcalls, it doesn't even seem to be unsolicited because she's actually admitting to seeking out that attention and "strutting" in a way so as to get it. In fact, she says that it's not even about what you wear or how you look, it's about your attitude. AND she states there's difference between an innocuous and offensive cat-call (so please, don't liken it to rape. Not the same thing. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Not ok to say. Jeez people, c'mon)

Name-calling automatically negates any wise point you might have been able to make had you taken the time to calmly and logically explain your perspective instead of resorting to the cheap and easy insult. Lewak didn't name-call you. And she didn't force you to read her article either. She didn't solicit you in any way. You willingly "read" her article on your own, probably aching to get offended so you could find some clever (aka not clever at all) ways of insulting her for thinking differently than you. 

That most certainly is not feminism. Even if it's a hot-button feminist topic we're talking about. Even if you hash-tagged feminism. In fact, it's the exact thing feminism is attempting to fight against. 

Feminism wants women to be able to exercise their rights just like anyone else - without fear of severe, heinous and unwarranted backlash. Insulting them for exercising those rights and expressing their personal opinions is a form of attempting to take those rights away. So this is the situation we have here right now: a woman named Doree Lewak wrote an article exercising her right to free speech (and her right to just, you know, exist), and in it she states her opinion about a topic. In response, thousands of people wrote nasty, abusive, hate-filled comments in the name of feminism.

Now, which of these people do you think are really exhibiting feminism? 

4 comments:

  1. I just don't feel comfortable around people when they "catcall". Sure, it's nice to hear some random guy say your pretty but most of those men that do are kind of...creepy. My husband always tells me that I am beautiful and whatnot but it's really awkward to hear it from someone else.
    I also have had men tell me to smile more. I just feel really awkward and don't really know what to say but just smile back? lol
    Great article and thanks for sharing your opinion! :)

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  2. Great article!

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