MY “Hollaback”

Someone just repeated to me the old line that the greatest compliment a man can pay a woman is an erection.

No, really, they did.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was still speechless.  I mean, erections are nice.  Fun, even.  And sure, complimentary.  In context.

Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter and a lot of articles about the video created of a woman walking down the street, recording (they said) all the catcalls.  It’s since come out that the video was edited, and whether intentionally or not, edited in a way that is offensive to many.  {I’m not going to link to the video, or the responses.  Search “catcall video” and you’ll see them all.}

I get catcalled my “fair” share.  And followed.  And groped.  I won’t even get on a subway that’s too crowded – not because I don’t want to stand, but because the alertness required is just.too.much.  But I also get compliments.  And one of the many things I hated about that video was the assumption that every time a man says something to a strange woman on the street, that can be classified as inappropriate, or even threatening.  Living in a big city, I believe you have to take the time to tell the difference.  can-stock-photo_csp4784026I walk down the street with my head up.  I meet people’s eyes – yes (gasp) even men.  And whether I smile or not (and frankly, the telling me to smile thing is ALWAYS annoying), I find that I get more than my “fair” share of positive responses.

Before you say it, it is NEVER okay for a person to behave in a way that makes another person uncomfortable, or makes them feel threatened.  And you cannot be sure what someone else’s threshold is just by looking at them.  But, folks, it is okay to smile at someone, or say something nice in a pleasant way, and then…move on.  (Note that I said person.  While the problem the video addresses (badly) is almost always gender-linked, “almost’ is the key word.)

And here is what is probably the most controversial statement I will make here (though I expect some of my other points might get a few negative reactions):  I think that women should take their share of the responsibility for what happens to them – which is not excusing or condoning bad behavior against women, but I am saying that we have more control than we are often led to believe.  So grab it with both hands and walk on, head held high.  But only smile if you want to.


P.S.  And to go back to the comment that started this…what do YOU think are the best compliments?




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