Saturday, October 19, 2013

starting a conversation about catcalling and class

Hannah Price's photos of men who catcalled her are fascinating, partly because she's a fine photographer, partly because the conversation keeps being framed in ways she rejects. It first appeared under the headline My Harassers, but she rejected that simplicity in A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall. She understands that those men are coming from a culture she doesn't know, and she understands the importance of treating different cultures, even those that seem threatening, with respect.

I'm fascinating by catcalling because the people offended by it seem to conflate at least three different things:

1. Attempts to make someone smile.
2. Attempts to get a date.
3. Attempts to insult someone.

Being the class guy, it's the third that most interests me: are the insulting catcallers trying to hurt women, or are they trying to hurt someone who appears to be of a higher class than theirs, someone who has opportunities that they feel have been denied to them?

But the second question interests me, too. The women who complain are inevitably middle or upper class. Does the attempt to get a date ever work with women of the same class as the catcaller?

And the first makes me sad. I've walked by street people who suggested I smile, or cheer up, or appreciate the beautiful day. Not everything said to a stranger—regardless of their sex—is sexual. Sometimes people who are feeling good simply want others to feel good, too.

ETA: Just noticed that my previous post about catcalling was written a year ago. Is October National Catcalling Month?