Dr. Helen

On Men and Catcalling

By now, we have all heard (endlessly) about the video depicting a woman being catcalled by men in NYC. I wrote about this phenomenon in the conclusion of Men on Strike. Here is my take:

Many years ago, I lived in New York City for graduate school and I worked as a psychologist for the state. My favorite pastime while walking to work or school was to stop and watch the construction workers building these incredible high structures all across the city. Sometimes, they were just working on old buildings to make sure they were in good repair. I would stand with wonder and watch the men as they balanced on beams, hosed down sidewalks, and handled heavy material like it was nothing. Though you might want to get Freudian here and think that I had some kind of penis envy—the hose and all—my feeling was one of admiration, not envy. I was grateful that these men were willing to build such incredible structures at the risk of their own life so that I, and my fellow New Yorkers, might have a better one.

By the time I got to work or school, however, the sentiment of my fellow New Yorkers about the construction workers was not so positive. Often, women would complain that the men yelled out some kind of compliment or leer such as “looking good” or they would smack their lips. I can understand that this is not welcome for most women who just want to get to work or school without a leering squad. However, this is the only quality that these women remembered about the construction workers or men around the city who were providing services to them on a daily basis; the men’s better qualities and what they were doing escaped them. Many of the women were very angry and wanted something done about the men looking at them on the street. Gathering them up and putting them in jail for simply looking was fair justice for some of these women.

I look around every day at the wonder of men, how many of them are the building blocks of our society, quietly going about their day around my office planting trees and doing the landscaping, or mowing lawns, running businesses that hire people, working as doctors to help people get better, or just making society a better place by their perseverance and abilities. But mainly what our society focuses on now is the negative traits that they perceive men to have. Misandry is so common that no one even questions it. Writer Camille Paglia offers a refreshing exception to this disparagement of men, as pointed out by Christina Hoff Sommers:

For Paglia, male aggressiveness and competitiveness are animating principles of creativity: “Masculinity is aggressive, unstable, and combustible. It is also the most creative cultural force in history.” Speaking of the “fashionable disdain for ‘patriarchal society’ to which nothing good is ever attributed,” she writes, “But it is the patriarchal society that has freed me as a woman. It is capitalism that has given me the leisure to sit at this desk writing this book. Let us stop being small-minded about men and freely acknowledge what treasures their obsessiveness has poured into culture.” “Men,” writes Paglia, “created the world we live in and the luxuries we enjoy”: “When I cross the George Washington Bridge or any of America’s great bridges, I think–men have done this. Construction is a sublime male poetry.”

Our society has become the angry leered-at woman who doesn’t care that men can build buildings or do amazing things like be good dads, husbands and sons. She focuses instead on the small flaws that some men have and extrapolates to all men; they are all dogs, rapists, perverts, deadbeats and worthless. Who needs them?

We do. Our society has forgotten the wonder of men in its quest for retribution against men and boys who often weren’t even alive when women were being discriminated against. Many men understand the war that is going on against them and they are going underground or withdrawing their talents and going on strike in marriage, fatherhood, education and in society in general. They may not speak about it or use a megaphone to let the world know of their pain, frustration, and anger or just plain apathy, but it is there—raw and just underneath the surface. We as a society must wake up to what we are doing to men before it is too late and we live in a world that has left male potential in a wasteland.

Our society is made better by men who are productive, happy and treated with fairness. We have only ourselves to blame if we do not turn the tide of the war on men, for without half the human experience, our society can crumble, just as surely as those New York buildings would if they no longer had men to work their sublime male poetry on them. Is that the world you want to live in? I don’t.

Women and their Uncle Tims have declared a war on men — believe it. This catcall business, along with the focus on getting rid of sports, videogames and unsupervised sex for college men, is just another weapon in their arsenal for soon making it illegal to exhibit any stereotypical male traits. Fight back and don’t let them make typical male traits illegal or at least undesirable and questionable enough to warrant federal or state intervention. It is fine to let young men know the boundaries for interacting with women in a more appropriate way than catcalling or bothering women on the street. But to make typical male behavior an aberration is to give up not only men’s autonomy in what should be a free society but the “most creative cultural force in history.”

Also read: 

Feminists Don’t Want Privacy, They Want Approval