New York Post Writer Explains That Catcalling Is Good for Women's Self-Esteem

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 19 2014 11:46 AM

To All My Catcallers: An Apology

construction_worker
Thumbs up for your tight self-esteem!

Photo by Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

New York Post writer Doree Lewak has graced us with a piece on the totally flattering practice of men catcalling women. Lewak chastises feminists for cruelly denouncing the arduous efforts of catcallers—those beautiful men with their grunts and their hoots—and credits slobbering construction workers with boosting her self-confidence. “Oh, don’t go rolling those sanctimonious eyes at me, young women of Vassar: I may court catcalls, but I hold my head high,” Lewak writes. “Enjoying male attention doesn’t make you a traitor to your gender.”

Lewak goes on to detail how getting catcalled has been great for her self-esteem: “When I know I’m looking good, I brazenly walk past a construction site, anticipating that whistle and ‘Hey, mama!’ catcall. Works every time — my ego and I can’t fit through the door!”

Advertisement

“I still get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling whenever I walk past a construction stronghold,” Lewak continues. “It’s as primal as it gets, ladies! They either grunt in recognition or they go back to their coffee break. It’s not brain science — when a total stranger notices you, it’s validating.”

For so long, I’ve experienced catcalling as a form of harassment leveled by men who use sexual innuendo to dominate and humiliate women. But Lewak’s column, complete with a photo of her standing in front of two male construction workers, lovingly eyeing her ass, has made me re-evaluate my frigid women’s studies response to strangers on the street yelling about my rack. And so, a few apologies:

To my first catcaller: I realize I seemed startled when you told me I had a nice ass. Forgive me. I was but 11 years old and still naïve to the ways of love. You were doing your best to help a young girl understand her femininity, and I insulted your efforts by running away. I wish I could turn back the clock.

To all the men who suck their teeth at me when I walk down the street: I am sorry I roll my eyes and scurry along. I’m simply overwhelmed with the flattery and, in a fit of feminine modesty, cannot deal with the gift of sucking and hissing you give me. When you grab your crotch, I apologize for throwing the finger at you. It’s taken me far too long to realize that sexualized gestures aimed by men at women are compliments.

To the frat daddies in Texas who chased me in that pickup truck as I walked home from work: I realize now that you had no choice but to aim your tire into that puddle and splash water all over me. I was, after all, ignoring your whistles and hollers. I was also ignoring our shared history. Lewak writes, “I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention.” Had I thought more about the Israelites, I might have smiled at you.

To the countless others: I am sorry I’ve not been more responsive to your affectionate gestures. In an attempt at better understanding, I just have but one question: Considering that you are acting only out of generosity and an appreciation of female beauty, why don’t you share the love when I’m accompanied by a gentleman?

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

Behold
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.