Fathers React to Their Daughters Being Catcalled…but They Shouldn’t Have To.
What about all those times women reacted to catcalling by saying they hated it?
Last month, we showed you a video from Cosmopolitan showing us boyfriends reacting to their girlfriends being catcalled. TMS’ Carolyn Cox had…feelings about that. Now, The Scene has decided to make a similar video. This time, it’s fathers watching their daughters get catcalled. And yes, I have feelings about this.
Look, I totally get it. Too often, people don’t care about a problem until it affects their immediate environment or circle of people they care about. So, I think it’s good for street harassment to be brought to the attention of men via the women they care about so that they can be aware of what goes on when they’re not around.
What bothers me about videos like this, however, is that the participants are getting angry and offended…but for all the wrong reasons. In this video in particular, the fathers seem to be missing the point entirely. They talk about their daughters being deserving of “respect,” but they don’t seem entirely clear on what respect actually entails (things like acknowledging a person’s autonomy and protecting their agency, for example). One father, when first watching his daughter get catcalled says “In the summertime…the animals come out,” which is pretty much a variation of Boys Will Be Boys. It’s summertime…so I should expect it and just deal with it?
Another dad, when watching his daughter get catcalled and hearing a guy tell her how beautiful she is as she walks by, says “She is beautiful – he’s not lying.” So, an unsolicited comment from someone you’re walking past is OK…so long as it’s true?
I guess videos like this are important, only insofar as they remind us of the disparity between men and women when it comes to agency. A woman can make a video about catcalling, and she’ll be told everything from “Why are you so upset by receiving compliments?” to “You’re overreacting. It’s not that big a deal.” Meanwhile, the way in which these videos where men are upset by “their” girlfriends or daughters being catcalled are framed, it’s almost as if we’re supposed to feel bad for the guys. Videos like this are framed to show other men that if you catcall a girl “who doesn’t belong to you,” you might have an angry man to deal with.
You see how messed up that is, right? The point shouldn’t be that a woman’s father or boyfriend or brother or grandpa doesn’t like you catcalling her – but that she doesn’t. Just like, if you approach a woman in a bar for a date, and she turns you down, it shouldn’t take her saying “I have a boyfriend” to make you go away. No one should have “claim” over her to make you give up. Her lack of interest should be all you need to know. Whether or not she “belongs” to anyone is irrelevant. She belongs to herself, and that should be enough.
(via The Scene)
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