Creatrixsblood's Weblog


The truth about “Complimentary” cat-calling
April 4, 2014, 3:33 pm
Filed under: beliefs, Journaling, journalism, opinion, writing | Tags: , , ,
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Hey baby, I’m feeling frisky.

I recently read a rant by a young man who thinks  it’s pretty silly that women get offended when random men whistle after them as they walk by, or lewdly inform her that she looks like a good sex partner.  He went on to posit that most men would enjoy these sorts of “animalistic shows of support” from women.

First, let me distinguish that there is a big difference between compliments and cat-calls.  There certainly is a way for a man to give a woman who is otherwise a stranger a compliment and/or express interest without being sleazy or creepy. In general, it does not involve: Yelling at her so everyone in proximity can hear, staring her down, saying “nice (body part)”, pickup lines, or making animal noises.   The fact is, receiving a cat-call is pretty weird and awkward.

I want the men in the audience to imagine this with me: You’re being hit on by loud, obnoxious and largely unattractive women most of whom, if they wanted to, could drag you into the nearest alley and rape you with a strap-on… That’s a little bit more what it is like to be a woman cat-called by men. Don’t complain. It’s a compliment!

Recently, British journalist Leah Green took to the streets to see how random men would respond to some of the tactics used on women. She asked male bartenders for lap dances, asked pairs of men if they had ever kissed, and told them their pants would better on her floor. It turns out, most of them did not, in fact, seem to enjoy it.

 

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Why being heckled for being fat hurts more than being heckled for being thin

As a skinny girl I hate the bones are for dogs comment. I am naturally skinny to the point I have to work very hard to keep my weight up and steady!!! I love being skinnybut it’s hard… it’s mean and hurtful when we are called skin and bones, referenced to attracting only low class guys, or called anorexic. It’s not ok to insult a plus sized woman so it shouldn’t be ok to insult a skinny woman. I have nothing against plus sized ladies. All that matters is you’re happy and healthy. And for the record, my fiancé is not a dog or anywhere close to it!!!!” -Facebook User commenting on a plus sized model’s photo.

Dear (Thin) Facebook User,

First, let me say that I agree. People should refrain from voicing hurtful opinions about the weight of others regardless of which end of the spectrum that person occupies, period. Generally, that person is aware of what their body looks like, and doesn’t need your input on the matter. Such commentary accomplishes nothing except for boosting the ego of the perpetrator by putting down the target, often in the guise of snide concern. Making fun of a fat person and a making fun of a thin person are equally condemnable. Neither is O.K..

real-womenHowever, the way this sort of commentary hurts a thin person is often very different from the way it hurts an overweight individual. Barring very low self-esteem, eating disorders, or other mental disorders that distort body image, most thin people are generally comfortable with their bodies even if they are not entirely satisfied. The above user said herself that she loves being thin. While this is becoming true for a growing number of overweight/fat/plus-sized/choose-your-adjective individuals, a vast majority of them (should I say us?) are constantly uncomfortable in their own skin.

Overweight people, especially women, tend to face a lot of imagery in magazines, television, and movies telling them their size is not only not beautiful, but not acceptable or at best, something to mocked. While there are a growing number of non-traditional models, big girls tend to have to seek out imagery that positively represents bodies similar to their own. On the contrary, thin women regularly see imagery that reinforces and reassures them that their bodies are attractive even if they hear remarks to the opposite effect. Being inundated with this sort of exclusionary imagery tends to make overweight women, and the men who are attracted to them, unnecessarily aggressive toward the idea of thin being sexy.  Often men attracted to fat women are seen as fetishists and the fat women themselves are seen as a fetish,  further increasing their defensive nature.

It is true that thin women still face the same pressure that all women feel: to have the perfect boobs, an exaggerated waist, and round perky buttocks. Disparaging remarks about our bodies hurt no matter what size we are; few people don’t inwardly long to change their appearance. The main difference here is that the remarks of peers regarding weight are much less likely to encourage or perpetuate harmful behaviors in the average thin person.

Thin women, because they tend to feel more confident about their bodies, are more likely to recognize the commentary as ignorant and hateful, label the person dispensing it an asshole, and move on. But it is fairly common for overweight women to already have an inner monologue that tells us we are unattractive because we are fat, and though we may hide it at the time, the commentary validates our negative self-image.  In women who are overweight despite vigilant diet and exercise, this can lead to starvation dieting or even encourage them to give up. In people who compulsively overeat, or eat for emotional reasons the implication is obvious.

In summation: Yes, thin Facebook user, the person who tells you to eat a cheeseburger or asks if you are anorexic is an asshole in the same way as the person who tells me I need Jenny Craig and asks me how I escaped SeaWorld. Yes, we both as women have to deal with insensitive assholes telling us that we don’t fit their ideal of beauty… But, unless you have a sense of worthlessness strongly linked to your weight…unless you have a loud inner-monologue that tells you that you are less than worthy because of how you look…please…don’t pretend you know how I feel.