There is often a lot of talk about how men can’t help showing their appreciation for women – I mean, it’s biology, right? 1
So I thought you might be interested in some of my behavioural adaptations in response to this male appreciation and its potential darker side:
- my girlfriends and I always phone each other when we get home safely (do men do this?)
- I walk home different routes and hopefully not in a predictable way
- I vary the time I leave work every day by at least 15 minutes
- I don’t wear some flattering outfits to work in case they give the wrong impression
- I keep a ‘creep’ list in the back of my head = a list of colleagues that I won’t be alone with, even in an elevator 2
This is just a small subset. Please feel free to share some of your adaptations too. Not only are men often not aware that women make these changes but women often just think these are normal things that we do.
But if I can make those changes, why can’t men think about whether their ‘hello’ is going to be welcome to women? As Karen James said articulately in a Facebook reply,
…some women don’t mind being catcalled. But as we also see here and elsewhere, a lot of us do mind; it frightens and upsets us. So, what’s a nice guy to do with this information? You see a woman walking down the street, and you want to catcall her (or even “disguise” your catcall by saying hello) but you don’t know if she’s a woman who is going to feel complimented or a woman who is going to be scared out of her mind. What should you do? How about don’t catcall her, you know, just in case. That’s what a nice guy would do, a guy who truly just wants her to have a good day…
And what about those meet-cute stories about couples meeting on the street? The few people I know with those stories had mutual interest and both struck up a conversation. In other words, there were signals like eye contact or smiles.
I think men can look for some social cues to show their appreciation. I think they already do in some cases. For example, a woman walking with a large man probably isn’t catcalled as much as a woman walking alone so somehow that biological need is curtailed. So it is just taking it a step further – wait until there are social cues like eye contact or smiling at you before you decide to compliment a woman.
Women have been making behavioural changes to accommodate ‘male biology’ (or at least that argument) and I think it is time that men start making some of the changes. Conversations on the street should be opt in not opt out.
- This came up a lot in comments for the recent catcalling video where a woman walked around NYC for 10 hours and recorded a variety of encounters with men. Although there were some valid concerns with the video, including race blindness, it definitely started some conversations about whether women should be flattered when men say ‘Hello’ on the street. ↩
- This dovetails with a current scandal in Canada now with Jian Ghomeshi and knowing. ↩