Nobody ever got laid by yelling ‘nice tits’ from a speeding van, Andy Hill wearily reminds the brotherhood
Is it possible to be a feminist and still enjoy the sight of a beautiful figure in a nice summer dress? I love Lena Dunham, I support Hillary Clinton, and fervently believe Samantha Bee is the one true heir to Jon Stewart. Am I allowed to claim solidarity with the sisterhood, and still cop a sly sideways glance from behind my strategic sunglasses?
I was occasioned to ponder these questions on a leisurely summer stroll through my seaside hometown of Brighton, UK, last week. A little way ahead of me were two young ladies, dressed for the balmy weather and clearly enjoying a good old chinwag. Lovely, I thought. What a glorious sight on such a blessed afternoon.
Then, the mood darkened. Some arsehole in a passing car yelled ‘Hey baby!’ and air kissed them. At the next junction they reached, a different car swung by and the same thing happened again. And then, further up, the same again. Why, why, why? I’d honestly never seen misogyny so callous in the wild before, and was stopped in my tracks.
Catcalling (mansplaining alert) occurs for three broad reasons:
1. Men are just awful
I’m afraid it’s true. All of us, to some extent or another, are horny lecherous swine. I believe both nature and nurture conspire against us on this. On the nature side, like bonobos, we literally are wired to constantly want sex. On the nurture side, porn culture encourages us to believe any girl is forever ‘up for it’. We’re idiots, basically.
2. Any kind of attention is better than none
I’m convinced the catcallers thought process runs essentially: ‘Wow, she’s hot. She’ll never find me attractive enough to get with me. I know! Why don’t I ruin her day, so at least she knows I exist?’ Which is risible, pathetic, and deserves nothing but scorn.
3. It’s about showing off to each other
This is absolutely key. Men rarely catcall when they’re alone. Most of the time it’s about affirming their own masculinity in front of their peers. ‘Hey, I’m straight, confident and powerful. Make me your alpha.’
Sorry, girls. And come on, chaps. Acknowledging we’re all douchebags under the surface, but choosing to keep it under wraps, is a good first step on the road to equality. Ogle, within reason, all you like. But be discreet about it. Please?