Hysteria, Rudeness and Exaggeration

Or: Working as Designed

This video has gone the rounds. I am a little late to the party, but I wanted some time to process this.

Here’s the plot:

  • A shapely, attractive young white woman walks around predominantly “black” parts of New York, dressed in an outfit that accentuates her shape.
  • She says nothing, does not look at them, does not recognize their existence.
  • Men — mostly black men — say hello or call out to her. A few walk with her for a few yards. One walks alongside her for a few minutes, then takes the hint and gives up.

Some will view this video and talk about “street harassment”, but I see no such thing. Most of the men who spoke to her were respectful and polite. I would venture that most women who lack her obvious physical charms would be grateful to get some attention – the popularity of social media provides ample evidence of women’s insatiable thirst for attention (which is why FakesBook does not have a “dislike” button).

Here are my conclusions:

  • Women are safer than they think they are: During ten hours of walking around one of the busiest cities in the world, not one man laid a finger on her. None shouted abuse or called her names. Not once did she appear to be fearful for her safety – no-one tried to abduct her or tell her to get into their vehicles. No one tried to kidnap her and sell her into slavery. Try that in Riyadh, Rotherham or Kathmandu and let me know how you get on.
  • “Street Harassment” is an exaggeration: Since this video was produced with the objective of highlighting “street harassment”, we can assume that this selection represents the worst examples that were encountered during ten hours of walking through one of the busiest cities in the world. During that time she passed within sight of tens of thousands of men, and yet there was only one or two whose behavior could be described as “creepy”. That is statistically insignificant. As for the rest of us, remember, smiling, winking or saying hello to a girl is now considered harassment – so stop that.
  • Black male stereotypes are bogus: The popular portrayal of black men as pimps, muggers, thugs and criminals needs a little critical examination. An attractive white (ish) woman walking for ten hours through predominantly black parts of New York is the equivalent of dragging the proverbial hundred-dollar bill through the proverbial trailer park. I will ignore the obvious racist element and focus on the behavior of the men. Most ignored her. A tiny minority saw an attractive woman and approached her – that’s what men are supposed to do – working as designed. And almost all of them spoke with respect and broke off when it was obvious they were not getting anywhere. Where some see “street harassment”, I see gentlemanly conduct. Amazingly, some said “God bless you” as they let her go on her way. To my amazement, some (female) commenters actually thought that was “weird”. How sad for the neighborhood.
  • Women think it’s OK to be rude: In most of the world’s cultures, eye contact is a sign of respect and recognition, and deliberately avoiding it is considered extremely disrespectful. In ten hours of walking she studiously avoided eye contact or any other form of recognition. Most men are intelligent enough to understand a shake of the head, or the word “no”, but refusing to acknowledge someone’s existence is just plain rude, or worse, might be misinterpreted as “playing hard to get”. In a society where women care so much about what other women think of them, the increasingly acceptable practice of ignoring men they are not attracted to is not smart. Honesty is generally the best policy. If he likes you and you don’t like him, “woman up” and tell him – he can take it.
  • Women want to be ignored… except when they don’t: Some years ago I spoke with a young woman who was complaining that she was getting “too much attention” by men. I advised her to wear a wedding band; most of us can take a hint. That solution, while perfectly reasonable, was totally unacceptable to her; apparently she *did* want to be noticed… but only by the men who were “tall, muscular, handsome and rich”. Go figure.
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