Funny Or Die’s Street Harassment Response And The Difference Between Men And Women In Public

Funny or Die made a response to Hollaback’s street harassment video and, of course, there are buzzkills all around. People who sympathize with women say it’s making light of a serious topic, while those who don’t sympathize are complaining that this isn’t what it’s really like for men.

Of course it isn’t, it’s satire.

I get that men aren’t actually proclaimed King of New York and carried around on a chair, as does everyone else. The point remains that my boyfriend Michael has a 40-minute El commute to downtown Chicago for work five days a week and he can pretty much be guaranteed that, other than people asking for change or directions, no one’s going to say anything to him in the almost seven hours that he spends alone in public every week. Not to be “friendly” and “just say hello,” not to tell him how handsome he is, not to say “God bless,” and certainly not to make the kind of obscene comments that weren’t included in Hollaback’s video but that women have experience with all the time. Me, though? Most of the time I can’t walk five blocks without someone saying something to me.

Michael sent me an e-mail about it yesterday: “Of course a man would be OK with it if the roles were reversed, a woman doesn’t present much physical threat to your average man. Bottom line, even when men just say ‘Have a nice day,’ it has implications, or why else say it? They wouldn’t say it to a random guy. My $.02.” Spot on, Sugar, spot on. Here’s the thing about all those people who say “I say hello to everyone! It’s just manners!” No, you don’t. Because if I asked the men I knew how many strangers said “hello” to them in a week for no apparent reason, I’d be surprised if the number breached one.

So to me, yeah, Michael’s living the dream. If only I lived in a world in which men were only polite and friendly enough to smile and nod as they passed, say “Mornin’!” if we happen to make eye contact while they’re walking their dogs, and otherwise pretty much just leave me alone. Compared to the constant stream of commentary about my looks and body, “polite” hellos that obviously have an implication because they’re not being said to any of the men on the corner, jeers for not responding, anger for responding negatively, occasional gropes, instances of getting cornered alone in a train car with a man who won’t take a hint, uninvited and vacuous conversations that are just a front for eventually asking me if I have a boyfriend and/or if I’d like to go on a date, whistles, hollers, and kissy noises, it would feel like regal treatment.

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