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Women who get catcalled are the real sexual harassers, explains Men's Rights Redditor

Woman sexually harassing a group of men with her slutty attire.
Woman sexually harassing a group of men with her slutty attire.

A month or so ago, after an antiques dealer responded to her comment about a piece of furniture by asking her if she and her female friend “ever made out with each other,” Leah Green of The Guardian decided it was time to try a little gender-reversal experiment: she would use hidden cameras to film her to treat unsuspecting men to the same sort of inappropriate sexual remarks that women get treated to every day, using real life examples collected by the @everydaysexism project.

You can see their reactions in the short video she posted on the Guardian’s website; she discusses her motivations more here.

Many of the men, unaccustomed to this sort of harassment, weren’t exactly sure how to react to her comments. When she asked a bartender for a drink and a lap dance, she had to repeat herself several times before he got her point. When she tried the “have you guys ever made out with each other” line on two older men, they couldn’t quite even process the question at first.

Others got angry. When she yelled “oi, get your asses out” at some construction workers – a gender-swapped version of the classic “show us your tits” — one of the affronted men responded with “you can’t talk to us like that.” And that was essentially the point of the video: no one should be talking to anyone like that.

That point seems to have escaped one angry commenter on the Men’s Rights subreddit going by the name of frankie_q, who spewed forth a well-received virtual manifesto arguing that it’s complaints about cat-calling, not the cat-calling itself, that is the bigger problem. And that the biggest problem of all is that women wear clothes that men consider sexy.

Frankie starts by pointing out that none of the men in the video were dressed like Chippendale dancers (or Donald Trump):

[A]ctivists who point out that on average women are cat-called more than men never admit that on average men tend to dress in very conservative and unrevealing attire compared with women: all of the men featured in the video were dressed in bland, functional clothing. …

The harassed men were not flaunting their flesh, their figures, nor even showing ostentatious displays of wealth, strength or influence (which are things that more often attract women to men than vice-versa). Had these men been wearing tight black leather chaps and shirts, Chippendale tuxedos, hotpants over profile-enhancing push-up underpants; if they were parading their waxed and oiled muscles, or if they were letting their £30,000 Patek Philippe timepieces dangle alluringly from beneath their shirt cuffs, it would have been a much more poignant and valid comparison.

So is Frankie suggesting that all women who get harassed literally dress like strippers? Not quite. He’s suggesting that there’s just not that much difference between what stripper and non-stripper women wear.

[E]ven something as ordinary as a skirt reveals acres more flesh than the equivalent male garment. Almost all women’s clothing is designed to enhance their sexual allure and heighten their sexual power, and this is so normalised that we don’t even notice.

And therefore, women who dress the way women usually do are essentially broadcasting their sexuality to the world and bringing sexual harassment – sorry, sexual attention – upon themselves.

Dress is a form of communication. … A prostitute dressed convincingly as a nun or in dusty overalls would fail to attract many clients, not because nobody desires her services, but because she is not communicating her sexual availability. Conversely, men and women who advertise their desire for sexual attention, whether verbally or through their dress, are wilfully miscommunicating if in truth they desire no such thing.

So should women simply cover themselves up from head to toe?

While I would not advocate for the adoption of burqas in the west, they are a stark and extreme example of how things like cat-calling correlate with appearance. Their use is encouraged in the genuinely patriarchal Arab world by women who wish to evade the attention of men, and by men who perceive immodest dress to be a way for a woman to gain power over them, and while I consider the practice backward, these men and women both have valid points backed up by empirically observable outcomes: dress dowdy, be left alone.

But hey, we don’t need to resort to burqas when we already have pantsuits:

A female office worker in a frumpy pant-suit or a woman running an errand in baggy jeans and a hoodie is as invisible as a man dressed the same way.

And women in baggy or “frumpy” attire are never, ever, ever sexually harassed ever, apparently.

The real problem, in Frankie’s mind, is that women use their sexy sex appeal to have sexy sex power over sex-hungry men. (Women are not as interested in sex, you see, and so are less inclined to lose their minds over men in tiny hotpants.) By dressing sexily, women thus gain an unfair and “unchecked sexual power” over men.

Being sexually desired is a form of power. …

If a person has a strong psychological desire for something, be it a man who desires sex, a woman who desires wealth, an ex-smoker who desires nicotine, a recovering junkie who desires heroin or an infected person who desires a cure, someone who is in possession of the desirable thing has an easy way to manipulate the deprived individual.

So women are basically the drug dealers of the drug … in their pants.

[A] smoker who blows cigarette smoke in the face of an ex-smoker is rightly condemned for frustrating them. A pimp who has an abundant supply of drugs can is considered evil for luring addicts to their ruin. …

But the reasoning that accompanies these kinds of moral judgments does a full 180° turn when the scenario involves a man who is being psychologically controlled through his sexuality. He is afforded none of the sympathy given to the other, comparably manipulated individuals, but worse than that, he is considered an aggressor if he so much as looks at that which he is being tempted with (the “male gaze”, “visual harassment”), never mind if he passes comment or escalates the situation with a romantic advance.

So when a guy yells “show us your tits” at a passing woman, this “romantic advance” is really the fault of the woman for having tits in public. She’s the “morally contemptible party” for displaying herself in front of horny men who are not at that very moment having sex. Don’t blow your tits in men’s faces, ladies!

Oh, but apparently my reaction here is an example of anti-male “empathy apartheid.” In Frankie’s world, sexual harassment is merely a kind of “romantic advance”; the real sexual harassment comes from women wearing makeup and clothes that reveal their female figure.

In a world that treated the male experience with the same empathy and concern as western society treats the female experience, when revealing, figure-hugging clothing, makeup, short skirts and push-up bras are worn in the workplace it would be viewed as sexual harassment, and the women who seek to gain influence through such means would be shamed and reprimanded in the same way as would any other kind of psychological manipulator.

That’s right: women should be “shamed and reprimanded” for making (straight) men think dirty thoughts about women.

I’m pretty sure that most straight men can manage the dirty thoughts all by themselves. Maybe men should be reprimanding their own brains for all the filthy scenarios they keep coming up with.

Thanks to Cloudiah and AgainstMensRights for pointing me to this.

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Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Almost all women’s clothing is designed to enhance their sexual allure and heighten their sexual power, and this is so normalised that we don’t even notice.

Oh? Well, I suppose that explains how I managed to get harassed on the streets of Toronto wearing a puffy black coat that covered me to mid-thigh, over baggy jeans and Doc Martens. Oh wait, no hood on the coat. Yeah, I guess I was totally asking for it, and no wonder that poor curb-crawler who tried to pick me up thought my utterly invisible ass was for sale. I stopped wearing concealing clothing when I realized what an effect it was having on these poor, horny, clueless walking penises who just couldn’t help themselves, and that totally solved MY problem!

[/sarcasm, in case you needed that]

Monster
6 years ago

“A female office worker in a frumpy pant-suit or a woman running an errand in baggy jeans and a hoodie is as invisible as a man dressed the same way.”

Well that is interesting as baggy clothes/dishevelled hair and outside in my weekend job uniform (frumpy black shirt and trousers) are the outfits I receive the most harrassment from men by far. A little way behind is jeans/tshirt/shirt, with no makeup, or when I’m out running. Hardly ever get bothered when I’m more dressed up. Oh wait – I look really young w/out makeup…nevermind.

Monster
6 years ago

Also the ‘being too sexy in public’ accusation does nothing to explain all the dudes who felt compelled to scream across the street or from cars that me & my friends are ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ or some other negative, sometimes accomanied by flinging a bottle or a sandwich at us/me. A friend suggested that some of these guys do in fact find us attractive, but because we don’t quite fit in with what is supposed to be ‘sexy’ that embarasses them and therefore makes them angry so they shout and throw things to stay feeling/looking manly enough. Could be something in that.

swankivy
swankivy
6 years ago

Gee, and if women wear unappealing clothes or fail to wear makeup, I don’t suppose they ever get called mannish, get assumed to be lesbians (and treated like that’s unacceptable), or get told they’re dressing unprofessionally. Basically I’d have to put as much effort into camouflaging my body as I would painting it up to look attractive. And then I’d just deal with a different kind of abuse: the kind that comes immediately when a woman doesn’t make herself sexually available to men.

insanitybytes22
6 years ago

Male sexual frustration and failure at self acceptance is an ugly thing. That’s what really astounds me about some of these manosphere men, they appear to genuinely hate themselves. I mean, if you’re happy with yourself, there’s no resentment when an attractive woman goes, no desire to tear her down, no disgust over her alleged all mighty sexual power. At least I assume this to be true from watching men.

I know it’s a bit crazy, but it is the manosphere’s misandry that really bothers me. Some of us adore men, flaws and all, and watching some of these guys promote such horrible self images is actually kind of painful.

Rilian
Rilian
6 years ago

Someone walking around in revealing clothes is not so much a manipulation like a drug pusher. It’s more like someone walking around carrying a bag of weed but not offering it to anyone. If you wanna compare them to a drug pusher, I’d think of someone who abuses their partner after getting them emotionally invested and whenever the victim thinks about leaving, the abuser throws some sex at them because they know their victim and know exactly what will tip the scales slightly in favor of staying. but that’s not what you’re doing just by wearing clothes in public.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

So what you’re saying is that women are bogarting our own vaginas? Ewwwwww.

Ally S
6 years ago

A female office worker in a frumpy pant-suit or a woman running an errand in baggy jeans and a hoodie is as invisible as a man dressed the same way.

Um, no. The objectification of women has nothing to do with wearing revealing clothing and everything to do with being female. Women are structurally determined to be the objectified class – physical appearance doesn’t provoke their objectification. That’s why I know women who have been groped while wearing hoodies and baggy jeans. I’ve been objectified as well, and I’m someone that no one expects to be objectified: a trans woman who passes as male and wears non-revealing masculine clothes.

In fact, if anything, women who wear “shabby”, non-revealing clothes due to socioeconomic disadvantages are likely to be targeted, as poor people are over-represented among victims of violence and harassment. Clothing has often functioned as a class marker. Even a baggy hoodie is often perceived as a mark of being poor.

Being sexually desired is a form of power. …

If a person has a strong psychological desire for something, be it a man who desires sex, a woman who desires wealth, an ex-smoker who desires nicotine, a recovering junkie who desires heroin or an infected person who desires a cure, someone who is in possession of the desirable thing has an easy way to manipulate the deprived individual.

Women aren’t sexually desired by misogynist men; they’re sexualized and dehumanized. Moreover, women are not institutionally empowered to manipulate men because not only are they condemned for doing so, but they are also held as proof that all women are sexually manipulative. This in turn is used as a justification for the rape, abuse, and harassment of women.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

While I would not advocate for the adoption of burqas in the west, they are a stark and extreme example of how things like cat-calling correlate with appearance. Their use is encouraged in the genuinely patriarchal Arab world by women who wish to evade the attention of men, and by men who perceive immodest dress to be a way for a woman to gain power over them, and while I consider the practice backward, these men and women both have valid points backed up by empirically observable outcomes: dress dowdy, be left alone.

Oh yeah? Tell it to these women, you fucking jackanapes.

Ally S
6 years ago

[A] smoker who blows cigarette smoke in the face of an ex-smoker is rightly condemned for frustrating them. A pimp who has an abundant supply of drugs can is considered evil for luring addicts to their ruin. …

And a man who ogles a woman’s chest is rightly condemned for violating the woman’s boundaries.

Oh wait, usually women in her position are shamed for dressing like “sluts” and “whores” and told to not complain about harassment because “it’s a compliment” and “guys can’t help themselves.” Sounds like what the author is saying.

Rilian
Rilian
6 years ago

When pinky mentioned the white supremacy 101 or whatever, that was in response to the suggestion that e Google feminism 101, saying that they’d be biased. BUT. E misses the point. IMO reading white supremacy 101 would be a good place to start if you knew nothing of their claims. The point isn’t to get unbiased information, it’s to find out what they believe. Then the NEXT step is to investigate any claims they made.

Rilian
Rilian
6 years ago

Wait a second, did I comment about pinky on the wrong post?

cloudiah
6 years ago

I live in Los Angeles, so I’m surrounded by handsome young wannabe male actors who do everything they can to make themselves as attractive & sexy as possible. Somehow I manage to control myself.

Anyone who claims this is super-challenging is just outing themself as someone with no respect or concern for other people.

Lady Ballsnip
Lady Ballsnip
6 years ago

It’s ironic isn’t it, that in countries where women have to cover everything up entirely and stay at home when possible rape statistics are very high? And that there’s a general, huge lack of respect for women, no matter how much they try to keep hidden under cloths to hide their body in every way?

And on the other hand, people in warm countries can just run around naked without any problem.

Wake up, Einstein!

By the way, these people are *so* self-centred. Does he really think I wear something nicer than a garbage bag or a burqa to seduce him?

And if I wanted to, then why would I complain if I’m getting harassed too often?

Claribella
Claribella
6 years ago

“Next time an MRA goes on about how an accusation of rape ruins a man’s life, tell them to google the UK football player Ched Evans. Right now he is 2 years into a 5 year sentence for rape and his former football team are visiting him regularly and courting him to come back and play football for them as soon as he gets out.”

Delurking to link to an awesome New Statesman article about this:

http://www.newstatesman.com/media/2014/04/ched-evans-case-shows-ruined-life-narrative-just-another-way-blame-victim

JM
JM
6 years ago

So women who wear any clothes which might tempt a man are to blame not only for all cat calling, but for manipulating the sexual addiction of men? Right, got it. Poshness simple. Now all women have to do is figure out which clothes they can wear which will guarantee no male attention ever. Nuns habits are out, and there’s plenty of men who like pant suits. I wouldn’t doubt a burqa fetishist exists. Wait, I got it! A burqa which displays an image of a man!

baroncognito
6 years ago

I remember on Shapely Prose there was one person who was harassed while wearing a snowsuit. Sexy, sexy snowsuits.

I couldn’t read this without hearing “Stupid Sexy Flanders.”

takshak
takshak
6 years ago

Too many women have been targeted because they looked confident,

I’ve been informed that I look scary. I definitely don’t get harassed when I’m wearing the black trenchcoat and mirror shades. Unless you count the cops that keep circling the block….

I’ve been harassed while in security guard uniform. While talking to a male co-worker. In winter. These idiots need surgery to correct their recto-cranial inversion.

kittehserf
6 years ago

takshak – friend of mine used to get harassed in uniform (she was in security, on ATM runs) until the harassers realised she was packing a gun and knew how to use it. (This being Oz, carrying a gun is rare and mostly illegal.)

titianblue
titianblue
6 years ago

Thanks @Claribella, excellent article.

Hopefully someone will be along shortly with your welcome package.

kittehserf
6 years ago

titianblue – like this, you mean? 🙂

::waves:: Welcome, Claribella!

Kootiepatra
Kootiepatra
6 years ago

*crosses fingers and attempts a blockquote*

“I always wish these guys would tell us where they see crowds of hot women walking around in stripper gear all the time, because I’m sure plenty of straight men and lesbians would be happy to move to this wonderful place.”

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a notebook and casually people-watching in various safe, open, public places (for instance, the food court of my local malls), making a discreet tally of the women and teenage girls I see who are dressed in a way that could be considered “stripper gear” by the clothes police, versus the total number of women and teenage girls I see altogether. I want to do this precisely because I suspect that the number would be lower than 5%.

Now, granted, I live in the Midwest, so my numbers may well more conservative than more tropical or trendy places, but I want to prove a point: Guys who police women’s clothing (an overlapping, but distinct category from catcallers) *only* acknowledge the conventionally attractive, 15-22 year old women who show off some skin. They then then assume that ALL women dress like that, and further assume ALL women have the same (completely invented) reasons for dressing that. I know MRA’s aren’t fond of paying attention to IRL stats, but I like the idea of having some actual numbers to counter to the idea that all/most women are strutting around flaunting their “miniskirt power” and “cleavage power” (LOLOL at that quote, by the way, Anarchonist).

leatapp
leatapp
6 years ago

Yesterday was in the low 70’s. The shirtless dudes in shorts are already out.
More power to them. Long may the sun shine on their muscly shoulders.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Sigh…I’m still waiting for warm weather here. And hot shirtless dudes.

(Or even a lukewarm one in bicycling tights.)

Claribella
Claribella
6 years ago

Thanks kittehserf for the welcome package. I shall enjoy perpetuating misandry in my misandrist chair! 🙂

kittehserf
6 years ago

Ya welcome, Claribella! Keep that misandry misandrying.

Bina, love the image of a lukewarm man. I’m guessing they’re tepid at best up there at the moment!

Speaking of which, day I get to Chicago it’s supposed to be 13C/57F. Good thing I want to show off my knitwear anyway. 😛

Alex
6 years ago

Funny, the uniform I wore back when I worked at Canadian Tire was not at all flattering, and yet I was often catcalled. I was groped on the bus ride home once, whilst wearing the same uniform. My winter coat is nice, but not at all revealing and yet I’ve been catcalled whilst wearing it. I had another, stinky, ugly winter coat I wore back when I worked painting balloons; I was chased to the bus stop once. I’ve never worn makeup, but when I have dressed nicely? The catcalls were never more frequent than when I wasn’t.

kittehserf
6 years ago

I’d love to think my uniform at the Museum (striped shirt, electric blue knitwear) was sufficiently horrible to put anyone off. It’d be the only thing it had going for it.

Funny thing: this was when striped business shirts were all the rage in the 90s. Co-worker, in her uniform, found herself waiting at a crossing with three dudes in business wear – and all four of ’em had the blue striped shirt happening.

They all four snickered about it.

takshak
takshak
6 years ago

Alex, I have no idea what Canadian Tire was thinking when they chose that red…. I keep waiting for a Horta to eat one.

vaiyt
6 years ago

it’s complaints about cat-calling, not the cat-calling itself, that is the bigger problem

“You are the real racists” with a new coat of paint, take eleventy billion…

katz
6 years ago

Sort of like all those schools with strict zero-tolerance policies for kids complaining about bullying.

miga
miga
6 years ago

Reblogged this on Life of the Loon and commented:
An awesome piece on catcalling and the MRAs who love it. Funnily enough I get harassed the most when I am distressed or look distressed (aka like a frumpy mess ). Men like that are vipers.

Tania
Tania
5 years ago

This article was written about a year ago and here I am just now writing a comment for it a year later, lol I’m late. But I came across this on a Google search. Wow. I have to disagree with your opinion. Not too long ago I got catcalled by a guy in his early 30’s, I’m 17 although I look like I’m 15, I was only wearing a big jacket (it was still cold here in NY) and jeans. They weren’t tight fitted jeans either, besides he was walking towards me so there was no way he could see my butt, either way my jacket covered me.
Its not the first time I’ve been harassed while wearing “normal male looking clothes”. So I find the statement false.
I find it absurd that females are blamed for males actions, what one wears shouldnt be an invitation for others to call her out on it. A female shouldn’t be entitled to wearing certain types of clothing simply because a male has no self control. If that’s the case then why are males praised when they can’t sustain themselves from this task, how can they be trusted.
I agree maybe certain attire is suitable for certain places, and this goes both ways male and female etc. What I highly disagree on is the not wearing “slut looking clothing” just so my pals penis here doesn’t get out of control. Or the “its expected to be harassed if you wear exposing clothing” in that case let’s eliminate the easy access for men to enter lingerie shops, strip clubs, porn, beaches etc because people can’t control themselves (sarcasm). I’m not hating on males, I have guy friends who are very respectable. I know some males get more horny and all but let’s not blame what a female decides to do with her own body as an excuse for these people to act like wild animals.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
5 years ago

Tania, I admit I’m having a little trouble following your argument, but I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with David. You do realize the sections justifying catcalling were quotes from somewhere else, right?