Someone Thought of the Men! Dudes Tell Cosmopolitan How Street Harassment Makes Them Feel
When I first saw this video floating around the series of tubes, its title definitely had me concerned.
We write a lot at The Mary Sue about why women’s worth shouldn’t be justified by their degrees to men. Male creators shouldn’t strive for positive representation just because they have a wife, a sister, or a mother, and men shouldn’t care about street harassment just for those reasons, either. Validating feminism by its ability to make men feel better about women’s experiences is a slippery slope, and it removes necessary attention away from the people most impacted by misogyny.
That being said, I think it’s only natural for a person’s concern over an issue to become more acute when someone they love is involved, especially when they’re placed in the unique position of having to watch helplessly as that person is threatened. So, although I don’t really care that street harassment makes boyfriends jealous, angry, or uncomfortable, it is interesting to see how some of the men in this video react with a genuine desire to further understand what women (not just “their women”) experience.
It’s also telling to see how many of the boyfriends react instead by making the harassment about themselves (“Am I not supposed to be angry right now?”) and by reiterating, again, that women are “sisters, wives, daughters,” a.k.a. extensions of men.
It might seem like we’re overthinking this clip (especially considering it’s part of a bigger and largely silly Cosmo series), but as the reaction to last year’s Hollaback video demonstrated, this kind of media has the ability to prompt vital discussions. We need to continue to interrogate our defaults; to ask why white street harassers don’t get the criticism they deserve, why conventionally attractive women are given a larger platform in this kind of activism, and why men’s feelings are so often centered in this discussion.
Most important thing to take into account with this video, though: if a person in your life doesn’t believe street harassment is an issue until he actually watches it happen to you, that person sucks.
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