Catcalling has become something that is quite normal in our society. This is especially true for where we live, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Definition: Catcalling is sexual harassment in the form of a whistle, a shout, a comment, etc toward a woman passing by.
My wife attests that she gets catcalled on average of 1-2 times per week. And she gets looked at up and down or starred at much more than that.
A couple nights ago, a group of close friends got together to discuss this very topic. We decided to record the conversation as a Gentlemen’s Brawl.
Does a gentleman permit catcalling?
In this episode
- We share our views on the topic of catcalling
- How to honor your lady after she gets catcalled by a stranger
- How does self-confidence play into witnessing sexual harrassment
These guys are my friends. We chat about topics like this one on a regular basis. Topics that challenge us as men and help us see things from multiple perspectives. We aspire to be better husbands, better friends, better gentlemen.
Robert Gillette has been married seven years. He mentors newlywed men in marriage communication. He is a photographer, entrepreneur. Learn more about Robert’s photography business here: Robert Gillette Photography
Jose Anaya has been married for one year six months. He is a passionate person. He is a Market Development Manager for Coca-Cola. Learn more – His wife blog about their marriage here: Jose and his wife’s blog
Sam Bo has been married for half a year. He is a thoughtful and down to earth guy who provides financial services.
A follow-up e-mail from Jose
(re-posted with permission)
This email was a well thought out email from Jose, the one who suggested we “brawl” about this topic in the first place. This is a topic that he feels very strongly about. He graciously gave me permission to post it in it’s entirety.
First of all, I really appreciate you hosting a conversation around a topic I feel very passionate about. Especially with 3 other men, for the first time. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to be a part of that conversation, but as my friend, I find it important to be transparent with you and express my disappointment with how the conversation went.
I was disappointed because I felt that the conversation was more centered on how we as men can be more self confident when our women are being cat-called (by keeping a cool head and not confronting), when it should have also taken into account how women truly feel when being cat-called and how they might want us to be gentlemen who stand up for them.
Since the issue involves two parties, my believe is that as gentlemen, we are not only to think of our needs to be self confident and courageous, but also to think about the needs of the women around us. A women’s need, such as Addie’s, might be to be defended and protected in a verbally firm way. That may not be the case for all women, but I know it is for many. They desire for men to stand up for them when they’re being cat called. Sometimes, when they’re away from us, they wish their significant other was there to defend them. They often feel very disrespected, not flattered. Whereas some men may feel flattered by their wives receiving that attention from other men. Other times, women feel very scared, fed up with it, and just wish it could stop. With that said, I’ve gotten the impression that they find it to be a serious issue worthy of confronting even though it may not seem that way to some men. Therefore, I was hoping it would also be encouraged to take a strong stand in the presence cat calling or verbal harassment.
To reiterate, I believe it is not just about how men could respond to make ourselves feel more self confident (in ourselves, our relationship with our spouse, her beauty, etc.), but also about what women need and what is generically needed for us to put a stop to an objectively wrong thing. I know you probably agree with this and this is what you meant to communicate but just thought I should express my take. If you’re not in agreement with that, I’d love to hear your take.
In overall, I got the impression that blowing cat calls away was encouraged more strongly than standing up against them in a healthy, yet firm way. Not just for the sake of our wives, but for the respect of all women as a whole in light of what is almost becoming rampant and the “norm” to allow nowadays.
Unfortunately, I felt as though the concept of standing up was confined to violent reactions and discouraged, when it should have been though of more holistically. I firmly believe we can be self confident and courageously stand against cat calling without being violent as I perhaps was, but in our discussion, I felt as though that wasn’t accepted as a possibility.
As someone holding a differing viewpoint last night, I felt like my stand on the issue was decisively sided against. Not sure if that’s truly the case or what you all meant. I just know that you want to encourage an inclusive environment that welcomes differing viewpoints on issues and I wish my thoughts were given more validity. I don’t take this with any grudge or anything, my concern is also for other guys from gentlemen’s club who might feel the same when having a larger recording. Giving more validity to differing viewpoints could be an opportunity going forward that if addressed will lead to even better discussions.
So back to Cat Calling. In our society today, I believe that unfortunately, it has become the status quo for women to be cat called and harassed in such a way day in and day out. Even more than that, it has become the status quo for men to not react or do anything about it, perhaps because they want to exercise confident in themselves and not be affected by it. But disregarding the issue is not the solution. In my opinion that is why it continues to be perpetuated. As men challenging the status quo, I believe we have a courageous role to play that can involve healthy and firm confrontation.
The goal of the gentlemen’s brawl is to challenge the status quo and to stand up for things that are wrong and becoming the norm. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like we accomplished that last night and I say that with all due respect for the sake of finding solutions and improvements.
I didn’t really get to hear your full standpoint on this, so I would be interested in having a more detailed conversation and hearing you out. This is no negative reflection on you. I know you were just trying to do your best to facilitate. I welcome your thoughts on this and my hope is that we can come a better understanding of where we each stand on this issue.
My concluding thoughts
After this email I called up Jose and we talked extensively about this topic. My view on the topic is that you should stand up for your lady, IF you have authority to do so. But as the wise saying goes, “rebuke a fool and he will hate you”.
So believe that sound judgement needs to be exercised. I believe that self-confidence, respect, honor, and love within the marriage trumps any need to defend from a stranger catcalling.
But when your lady is catcalled the least you can do is affirm her that she is a beautiful and wonderful woman and deserves much more respect that the status quo.
Furthermore, sometimes it’s dangerous to stand up for your wife from harassers. Sometimes you need to weigh the risks, defend her and possibly put your lives at risk (violence is real in my neighborhood) or let it go and know that the best you can do is to be the change you want to see.
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Samuel Hatton is the full-time marketing guy at Endsight – San Francisco Bay Area’s premium locally sourced computer technology support. He’s a multi-talented creative, natural encourager, and is full of courageous ideas.
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