My Reaction To “Men React To Their Girlfriends Being Catcalled”? BLAH BLAH BLAH

There is a strange, pervasive trend in the great content scheme that, for some reason, highlights the reactions of men to things that women experience and go through every single day. This is a formula that was pioneered by Buzzfeed’s Try Guys, a merry group of diverse men who gamely try things that women go through every day without complaint in an attempt to empathize with the fairer sex. On the surface, this seems fine. The execution, however, is often ham-fisted.

By drawing attention to the things that women do — give birth, change diapers,wear underwear — and explaining just how hard it is to be a woman (!!!!) through the eyes of a man, they’re actually fetishizing the things that women do every day to prove a point that isn’t quite clear. It’s shitty to be a woman? Being a woman is hard? Ahh, diapers, babies, OMG, this woman’s work, right??! It’s never clear just what they’re trying to prove but the message feels hollow.

It turns out people love this shit. People love to share it, to tweet it, to Facebook it and tag their friendsies. These videos have the kind of banal specificity that manages to engage a huge swath of the population. Lots of other outlets have snatched up this concept and run with it, as far as they can, churning out video after video,  like so many leaves clogging a gutter.

The latest iteration of this trend comes in the form of this surface-level harmless video from Cosmopolitan. Titled “Men React To Their Girlfriends Being Catcalled”, it plays out like a strange throwback to a time when chivalry was very real and men felt the need to defend their women like property.

The video itself is horrible, it’s true. But, catcalling is something that happens all the time, to every woman. Every woman knows it’s horrible! Something about pointing out the horribleness of it to the men in these women’s lives feels strange. It’s very possible that these men, like lots of men, don’t fully understand how it feels when you’re walking down the street to buy toilet paper and some stranger tells you that he wants to stick his dick where the good Lord split ya. Honestly, it’s hard to convey that kind of thing so that someone actually gets it. Sometimes it’s crucial to provide receipts and that’s what this hidden camera footage is. But, the reactions of the men in question make me uncomfortable.

Is this supposed to be cute? Are we supposed to think, “Awww, what a good dude” if your man is all of a sudden puffing up his chest and getting ready to clock the next dude that tells you how nice your tits are? It’s nice when you feel protected, but something about this strikes me as waiting for a dude to weigh in on an issue that primarily affects women in order to fully feel its impact, its severity. That feels like bullshit to me.

So, if you’re a man, watch this video. This is what it’s like for lots of women when it’s summer and you want to wear a sundress and walk down the street, as is your right. Think of your girlfriends — who, mind you, were people before they were your girlfriends — and be angry, if you want. Just make sure you’re angry because this kind of harassment is shitty behavior towards a person, but not because that person happens to be “yours”.