Monday, November 09, 2009

Studies in Machismo

Today we will be examining one of the more useful tools of the male chauvinist: the catcall. I'm sure I won't be alone in saying that I find this practice infuriating and demeaning, and it's unclear to me as to whether these are the objectives of the catcaller. However, a few recent instances have proven to be so humorous to me that I just wanted to sit down with the poor misguided chauvinist and instruct him in the art of objectifying my kind. And that's sad.

My cirumstances make me a prime target for catcalling: My husband and I are a one-car family, and as I work from home, he usually takes the car. Thus, I frequently walk along major roads to visit grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. My favorite form of exercise is running, which I often do outdoors at a park a few blocks from our home. On top of all that, I am a female between the ages of 13 and 73, free from major deformities or religious doctrines requiring me to wear a burka. So I've experienced my fair share of come-ons, to which I've historically responded with anything from an icy gaze to a direct physical threat.

Situation 1: A week ago, I was coming home from a run. A young gentleman was sitting at a bus stop across the street and whistled at me. Now, we're all familiar with the traditional two-toned wolf-whistle. The one that says, "damn, sexy!" Right? This kid gave me the two-toned "Hey, I'm trying to get your attention" whistle, the way you do at someone you know who's trying to find you at a crowded bar. Naturally, I paid no heed to his first attempt, assuming that someone nearby was trying to call their dog or something. So he tried it again, exactly the same way (at least we can admire his persistence). So I turned toward him, and he gave me the barely perceptible chin nod, indicating that he's too cool to wave but wants me to know it was him. I thought it was so funny and sad that no one ever explained to this poor kid how to whistle at a girl, I didn't even flip him off. I just shook my head with disappointment and ran on.

Situation 2: This afternoon I was crossing a major road, carrying a bag of groceries, and talking on my phone. A guy leaned out of the passenger window of a nearby car stopped at the light and whistled at me. Again, not the familiar wolf-whistle, but instead a single whistle, starting low and ascending. What is that? I ignored it, and you just know he sat back down in the car, confused and defeated, saying to his friend, "why didn't it work?"

Situation 3: Later, I was walking along the sidewalk and an SUV passed me by. Just a few seconds after going past me, he honked, but it was too late. He had just barely passed me already. That's worse than the ignorance of the other guys- that's just laziness, and it's not gonna get you a date. Today's woman is busy, busy, busy, and she doesn't have time to turn around to appreciate your gesture, so you've got to stay on top of your game.

These suckers are doing it all wrong, and that's a shame. But at least we can learn something from their unfortunate mistakes. First, learn how to perform a traditional wolf-whistle, so as to leave no doubt in the mind of the recipient regarding your intention. A louder, more effective whistle can be accomplished by placing the thumb and pointer finger between your lips- that way women from long distances will hear and come to you. Second, you can't lose your focus for one second. Always be on the lookout for attractive women to hassle, because your opportunity will have passed you by before you know it. Especially when your opportunity is a pedestrian minding her own business and you are traveling at even relatively high speeds in a vehicle. Third, take some cues from all of all the star-crossed couples you know who met and fell instantly in love after he honked at her while she was walking a cross walk in front of his car. Exactly. I haven't met any either. So, maybe, stop being a giant douchebag.