Henry Cavill Says There’s “a Bit of a Double Standard” Surrounding Street Harassment
During an interview with The Sunday Times, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s Henry Cavill somehow wound up talking about catcalling. I can’t imagine how that was relevant to a Dawn of Justice interview, but here’s an excerpt:
I do think there’s a bit of a double standard, you know,” says Henry Cavill, with eyes all a-twinkle and manners like those of a well-brought-up head boy. “I mean, if a girl shouts something like, ‘Oi, love, fancy a shag?’ to me as I walk past, I do sometimes wonder how she’d feel if a builder said that to her. Although, of course, I wouldn’t feel physically threatened, as she might.”
And do women proposition him in the street? “Erm, well… I’ve heard some things in my time, I have to say. I’d best not say what. I don’t mind it — not unless I’m with my girlfriend and someone is being complimentary to me in order to disrespect her. People who don’t respect other people’s feelings really get my goat.”
Henry: there’s a double standard at work in catcalling and street harassment, but it’s not a double standard that punishes men. As you rightly pointed out, women are more likely to be in a physically threatening street harassment situation than a man. We’re also taught by society since birth that our worth is based on men’s opinions about our looks; and that, by merely existing in a public place, our bodies are both a provocation and an invitation. Men do not have their value and right to bodily autonomy constantly challenged by society to the same degree that women do.
It’s invasive and gross for anyone of any gender to harass a stranger, and I’m sorry you’ve had the experiences you describe here. But it’s important to me as a woman that you understand why the conversation about catcalling tends to focus on women’s experiences over men’s. It’s not because of misandry, or because men’s experiences don’t matter; it’s because street harassment of women is an extension of the degrading and threatening double standard women face in society as a whole, where our right to privacy and our worth are deemed incidental.
All of that being said, it’s very strange to me that we’re even talking about Henry Cavill’s opinions on catcalling. The rest of The Sunday Times article is behind a paywall, and there’s no way on God’s green earth I’m going to fork over money to get behind it, but there’s part of me that’s depressed to hear Cavill’s opinions on this subject. Without more context it’s unfair to judge this instance specifically, but a lot of the time it feels like mainstream media is more interested in highlighting the offhand comments of one celebrity than they are in actually encouraging a productive discourse about harassment.
Still, Henry Cavill is someone a lot of people look up to now—he’s Superman, after all—so it’s important to point out where these comments are off, no matter how sensationalized they might be.
Street harassment sucks for everyone. We all need to acknowledge that existing in a public space, even if you’re a celebrity and therefore superficially accessible to people in a way other strangers are not, isn’t an invitation for proposition. But we talk about the harassment of women more because the double-standard at play in catcalling harms women, not men; and, in the immortal words of Henry, it really “gets my goat” when people imply that street harassment of men is at all equatable to the omnipresent judgment and invasive behavior faced by women on and off the streets.
—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—
Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]