By now everyone has seen that cat calling video, right? The one with the young woman in New York City who gets cat called about 100 times over the course of 10 hours while walking alone through various parts of New York City. As of Oct 30 at 1:30 pm (Pacific) it's been seen 17 million times. Which may or may not be considered a lot. Especially when you consider that nearly every other video of an actual cat gets about the same number of views.
I kid. Everyone knows actual cat videos get hundreds of millions of views.
Regardless, 17 million is a lot of views. And there has been much hand ringing, debate and discussion about this woman's experience. Is it emblematic of the experience of all women? Was the woman's experience a fluke? Is there a need for a Jon Stewart or Glenn Beck style national march on Washington to bring attention to the harassment that women experience as a result of cat calling?
As a man, I can't speak to what women may or may not be experiencing. I know this from my wife who often reminds me: "You may not think you're yelling, but you don't know how I experienced it."
And while I can't comment on women's experiences, I do feel that since I have eyes, I am qualified to discuss what I see in the video.
Above, a must see video of what it might be like if women cat called men.
First, some big picture thoughts on what I saw:
1. Nearly all of the men encountered are African American, Latin, or Asian -- a few of whom also demonstrated some threatening characteristics we usually associate with danger (guy in red cap, guy who follows her for 5 minutes).
2. Nearly all of the men encountered -- as best as I was able to tell, just by watching -- appeared to be what New Yorkers might colloquially call "working stiffs." Guys with blue collar jobs. Truck drivers. Construction workers. Delivery men.
3. The woman the camera was following looked a little staged. A little tense. A little driven. A little like she was out to make some point. A little 'not really what people look like when they walk down the street.'
Now, something I didn't see:
White guys. No white guys. No guys in suits. No white guys in suits. No Asian guys in suits. No African American guys in suits. No Latinos in suits.
These observations have led me to ask a few questions:
1. Is talking "at" women in public like we see in the video more tolerated or acceptable in Latin, African American and Asian cultures? I don't know.
2. Would any of what the 100 or so men said individually rise to the level of "harassment?" That's for lawyers to decide.
3. Is looking intense or purposeful while being female and walking in New York City an invitation to be made to feel vulnerable or unsafe? Or have your appearance critiqued? (even if the critique is positive?) No! Let me repeat. NO!
And yet, while culture isn't an excuse... I don't think it played much of a role, either.
So, what did I see instead of harassment? I saw a clash of classes.
What I saw in the video was a lot -- I mean, mostly -- working class guys and perhaps even more worse off financially -- who see an "upper class" woman and aren't going to be restrained by convention or protocol or cultural boundaries or social norms or expectations.
The vast preponderance of these guys appeared to me to be simply reaching above their station in life -- hoping to be "touched" (metaphorically) by something elegant, refined, sparkly, soft, and that's something "society just won't stand for." Who among us would not be excited if they found a diamond in the sewer?
That's mostly what I saw on the video.
When we think of cat-calls that are harassing, an image of a couple of threatening construction workers comes to mind shouting at a pretty girl: "Show us your tits." That isn't what we saw on the video.
None of which is meant to deny this woman's experience. Or the experience you had watching the video, if our opinions differ. I can't help how you experience things. Just ask my wife.
Jon Hotchkiss is a 14 time Emmy loser and the creator of the new late night comedy series, Get Sexxx Tonight. You can see the first episode FREE, by clicking here.