Somehow, dudes of the internet have managed to take a video of a woman being harassed -- whose intention it was to show how disconcerting it can be to move through the world as a woman -- and make it about them. And when these men aren't making the video about themselves, they are ridiculing women for daring to feel some kind of way about a constant barrage of "hellos." Seriously? When a large group of women are telling you that a certain action is problematic, maybe just shut the fuck up and listen for a minute.
First, there was this unbelievable CNN discussion about the topic - in which a man actually claims he knows more about street harassment than women, because "I'm a guy and I know how we think." Yes, he knows more about how it feels to be incessantly harassed in the street, because he has been one of the harassers. Is that what he's trying to say? Here's the whole ridiculous conversation:
." "The Manual" author Steven Santagati immediately starts shaking his head, to which Seals replies, "I can see you shaking your head, but you are not an expert on this, my brother, because you are not a woman walking in the street." Santagati replies: "No, but I am more of an expert than you, and I will tell you why. I'm a guy and I know how we think more than you guys will ever know."
What the hell does that have to do with anything? I wouldn't expect much more from a man who wrote a dating advice book for women with the subtitle, A true bad boy explains how men think, date, and mate - and how women can come out on top. Insert all of the eyerolls, here.
"I'm a guy and I know why these guys do this. The bottom line is this ladies; you would not care if all these guys were hot. They would be bolstering your self esteem, bolstering your ego -- there is nothing more that a woman loves to hear than how pretty she is." Then he hypothesizes that the men were planted since the video was shot with the intention of going viral. Seals says it doesn't matter, because it's actually very accurate. Santagati replies, "I agree. I lived in New York City 15 years. But so what?" He then goes on to make some weird statement about how women constantly NOT harassing men is just as bad as men harassing women because women are not bolstering men's egos enough. WHAT? Wow. Way to make street harassment about you, dude.
But it doesn't end at this dumb video -- there are men all over the internet making jokes and really trying to miss the point.
This guy. I followed this guy's arguments on the internet last night, trying to see if he could actually listen to one of the many women tweeting at him to tell him how problematic they found his tweets. His argument is this - I am not a creep who hits on every woman I see in the street. I say 'hello' to everyone I make I contact with because that is how I was raised. Great! Good for you! You actually sound like a decent human being. You do understand that your behavior does not equal the behavior of every other man out there, right?
I might believe that this guy really does say 'Hi' to everyone he makes eye contact with in the street. He very well may not be someone who makes women feel uncomfortable -- I sort of doubt it by the way his tweets devolve, though. What's with his incessant need to prove that since he doesn't do it -- it doesn't happen? I don't think he even believes this argument. I'm using his Twitter stream because his argument is the same as many, many I have seen; I don't do it, therefore it's never done. Close cousin to, "It's never happened to me, therefore it doesn't happen."
Some men are being intentionally tone-deaf to this message, and I'm not sure why. If you are such a decent human and not a "piece of fucking shit," why are you arguing with a bunch of women talking about street harassment? You CANNOT EXPERIENCE IT. You are a man. Your opinion does not carry weight, here. It's the same reason I shut the fuck up and listen when someone who is not white tells me they've experienced racism. I don't argue and say - that's not racism! I'm a white woman. It is simply not my place to define how a person of color perceives racism, the same way that it's not a man's place to define how a woman experiences the unsettling, sometimes scary feelings that street harassment provokes.
When thousands of women are saying -- This makes me feel unsafe. This makes me feel objectified -- why do all of these 'decent' men feel like it's their responsibility to come out of the woodwork and tell women they are wrong to feel that way?
I'll tell you why - because as women we're not even allowed to own our experiences, unless those experiences sit comfortably with all the men perceiving them. We don't own our personal space, and we better not complain about men invading it. Because we might make some man somewhere feel like the whole world doesn't revolve around him for five minutes, and we wouldn't want to do that, would we?
If you are not a woman who has been objected to street harassment -- why are you even weighing in on this? Does every conversation have to revolve around men and how they feel about it? Congratulations to all the men who are whining about how this video makes you feel - you are now an internet meme.