Speaker 1: There’s been a lot of conversation lately about the issue of street harassment, better known as catcalling. The knee-jerk deflection I’ve noticed is usually along the lines of, “Ladies, stop victimizing yourselves. It’s not catcalling, it’s a compliment.” To which I say, “All right. Let’s play that game.”
First of all, let’s formally establish what a compliment is. A formal act or expression of civility, respect or regard. A sincere compliment boosts one’s morale. Sign me up for a million of these.
Keeping that in mind, let’s play “If catcalls were compliments.” To begin, you probably wouldn’t have to catch someone’s attention by whistling, shouting, or doing anything along the lines of, “Hey, hey, hey, hey.”
If catcalls were compliments, they would pass two important tests. First, the if I said this to a co-worker, close friend, or family member I wouldn’t come off as a total creep test. “Hey-o, I’d like to explore the junk in your trunk.” What?
Two, the if someone said the same thing to a loved one or romantic partner, just anyone I had basic respect for, I wouldn’t be offended at all test. If it passes both of those tests, in that case, thank you for the compliment. My hair is especially shiny today.
If catcalls were compliments, the intent would be to uplift the other person and not uplift your own sense of power and sexual desirability. “I’m imagining you naked and I like what I see.”
If catcalls were compliments, they wouldn’t have anything at all, not even the hint of anything to do with sex. Unless you just had really great sex with someone and just want to pay them a compliment about it, but you’re probably going to be just next to them in bed. Probably not out on a street. Although I don’t know if you’re into that, you crazy kids.
If catcalling were compliments, you probably wouldn’t have to raise the volume of your voice to make it heard. “I’m thinking about you naked.”
Let’s talk repetition. If catcalls were compliments, you’d probably only need to say it once to have it properly received. Repeating the same compliment over and over again kind of makes you sound psychotic. “Like that new haircut.” Thank you. “Hey, I said I liked your new haircut.” Yep, thanks. “I like your new haircut.” Okay, seriously.
If catcalls were compliments, they wouldn’t expect anything in return. Not a smile. Not a conversation. Not a phone number. Not for you to jump in the car with them. Not for you to have sex in an alleyway with them. You get the picture.
If catcalling were compliments, you probably don’t have to interrupt what the other person is doing to deliver it. We’re going to need to double our order of that. “Over here, over here, over here. Hey, hey, hey.” Hang on a second. “Hey, hey.” What? “You’re gorgeous.” Oh, thank you. Thanks. Sorry, that was so weird.
If catcalls were compliments, it wouldn’t require a public audience. Compliments, so much more portable and easy to use and convenient for everyone involved.
Finally, if catcalls were compliments, they wouldn’t often require sexual gestures to get their point across. “I love that new dress you’re wearing. That color looks so good on you. I like your new haircut. I like your new haircut. I like your new haircut. I like your new haircut. Oh god, someone can totally see me. Awesome.”