You guys know who you are, and Tim Bell just wants you to know you’re making his life a whole lot easier!
First of all boys, I want to say thank you. Thank you for catcalling women, for whistling at them while they walk, for honking when they run by, and for staring them down on the train while they make their to-do list after a tough day in an already tough city.
Thank you because it makes you so easily identifiable as one of “those guys”. Wolves in sheep’s clothing you are not. You are the lumbering, drooling hyena from The Lion King (I looked it up, his name is Ed) and when you shout or whistle at a passing woman you are simultaneously waving a bright orange flag and dancing an uncoordinated Macarena to the sound of a poorly tuned accordion. You are making yourselves known so that I and men like myself can avoid friendships with boys like you, maybe even call your bullshit out when we find ourselves in a position to.
Also, thank you for helping me recognize the strength in the women around me. I always knew they were cool. I always knew I was surrounded by talented, intelligent, funny, compassionate female friends. But until you started waving your flag and dancing your dance I never appreciated just how brave they are. How courageous it is for them to still get on that train late at night, to strap on running shoes and hit the pavement, to say yes to dates with strangers and to dress in a way that makes them feel attractive and desirable. Because every woman has a right to feel attractive, and every man has a right to find them attractive, but when you take it and twist it to build your own ego by shouting “nice ass” or “hey mami” or “damn girl” you, my machismo compadres, are the cowards, and the woman you are attacking are the total badass motherfuckers.
Thank you for continuing your behavior. Thanks for displaying it on street corners, in crowded bars, from the windows of your ego-compensating sports cars. You have been caught on camera and you have captured our attention and you have taken your behavior to the extreme where it can no longer be ignored.
Congratulations! You’ve started a national conversation, and that is not an easy thing to do. But you were persistent! Your patience has paid off because it has caught the attention of myself and millions like me, guys who first thought of your behavior as the antics of “that wild friend” but who now see it for what it is: Harassment. Behavior I now understand I need to call out, to drop friends over, to teach my sons and daughters not to tolerate.
Finally, I’d like to extend an invitation to you. I’m building a museum. A very special museum, and I’d like you to be my latest exhibit! I’m calling it The Museum of Damn, We Must Have Been Crazy. I currently have an open slot between Witch Hunts and Racism, but I would gladly move over the diorama of when women first gained the right to open a line of credit without a male cosigner (19 goddamn 74) and squeeze you in next to lobotomy. Maybe you can join Himmler and the boys from the Nazi for their biweekly poker night in the gift shop?
Anyway boys, keep up the good work, and enjoy your time while it lasts, because it is swiftly drawing to a close. If any of you decide to make a conscience effort to change your behavior then you are welcome on this side; we can always use a few more men in the world.
Also by Tim Bell: How Eliminating Ambiguity Led to More Sex With Less Stress
Photo: Flickr/Erin Nekervis