Hey Guys, The 1950s (Cat)Called, It Wants Its Misogyny Back

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What’s a little sexual harassment between complete strangers? Chris Graham explains.

There’s a lot of things that wouldn’t happen in Australia if men didn’t dominate lawmaking.

For example, if it was men who laboured (bad pun intended) through a lifetime of wage disparity, then it’s unlikely it would be allowed to endure very long. We’d have a Royal Commission, followed by a special gender loading to even things out. Or, given the neoliberal policies of the two major parties, and their basic assaults on the rights of anyone with less than a million in the bank, we’d more likely tax women more, and then redistribute the wealth to men.

Another example: If it was men who were being murdered by women every week, it’s doubtful funding to domestic violence shelters would so disgracefully low.

Of course, we live in a western society where publicly bragging about sexual assault – i.e. ‘pussy grabbing’ – is apparently no hurdle to winning the most powerful office in the world. Did I mention men dominate lawmaking?

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Those same lawmakers have ‘criminalised’ all sorts of ‘anti-social’ behavior: we fine people for littering in the streets. For jaywalking. For being homeless (begging).

Strangely, there’s no public fine for that great male past-time known as catcalling.

One young woman from the Netherlands is aiming to change all that, taking the law into her own hands, figuratively speaking, by letting the court of public opinion pass judgment on men who harass her in the street.

And it’s a glorious, glorious thing.

Noa Jansma, aged 20, has recently started an Instagram account where she posts selfies with the men who’ve decided ‘she’s a bit of alright, and so obviously needs to have that yelled at her in a public place’. Jansma also includes a brief description of how it all came to pass: “*honks at me 3 times with his scooter, approaches from behind and cuts off my way* “God bless, When I see you, all I get is wild thoughts, wild, Wild Thoughts!! Darling” *honks again 3 times*.”

A dirty old man on a scooter aggressively propositioning a woman about a third of his age in the street begs the question, ‘What exactly was he planning to do, if by some remarkable turn of events, his advances were actually accepted?’

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So, just how frequently does Jansma get sexually harassed? Well, in the space of just over a month, there’s already 24 photos posted of ‘unsuspecting men’, most of whom have willingly posed for a ‘selfie’ with the young Amsterdam student. Unsurprisingly, everyone of them is smiling (several of them have gone the shoulder grope as well), lending credibility to theory that if you’re stupid enough to catcall a random woman, you’re almost certainly stupid enough to then participate in your own public shaming.

It’s early days for #dearcatcallers (although it already has more than 100,000 followers), but as you might expect, there’s been a pushback from men, the victims in all this, who refuse to except that sexual harassing random women is not actually a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all concerned.

There’s this from ‘makaveli116’: “I’m tired of you disgusting cry baby liberal feminazis screeching for attention from something so little when there’s bigger shit going on.. Yes get the fuck over it, if a guy really cat calls you.. buy pepper spray if it’s that bad… lmfao you don’t have to make a publicity stunt out of it….”

And this one from cza144, which is one of the cogent replies (seriously): “Is better to call her “ugly, slut, puta” etc. Men r being crucified just for trying to holler at a pretty girl. Smh. Did he call he ugly?? Did he call her slut? Or puta? Or smacked her? Etc??? NO!!! none of these guys did that!!! So slow down ur “FEMINISM” movement & grow up!”

Admittedly, while yelling out ‘Hey baby, you look hot, how about some’ is not the most heinous offence on earth, if you believe the well worn conservative theory that marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin, then it’s not that great a leap to accept that maybe catcalling is the gateway behavior to more serious forms of sexual assault.

Or possibly serial killing… as this photo strongly implies.

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In any event, a few pointers for readers looking for a productive way forward.

  1. If you’re a guy, and you feel the urge to sexually harass a woman, don’t.
  2. If you’re a woman, and you’re a victim of calling… selfie the shit out of that situation, then hashtag it #dearcatcallers.

If you want change, join the movement.

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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