The original piece discussed the question of whether guys can be the victims of catcalling, too. But reader Patrick Brown brought up an excellent point about, among other things, our choice of art for the post:
Interesting that you’ve chosen a photo of a black man in a hard hat to illustrate this article. The stereotypical catcaller is always a construction worker. This is an issue of class and female hypergamy.
I think part of what is being complained about is that women, who are accustomed to treating men of insufficiently high social status as socially and sexually invisible, do not like being forced to notice as a sexual being a man they would usually dismiss without a thought.
This is not to say that men who catcall women in public are doing it for innocent reasons. They do it to annoy. But I think that, besides such motivations as inter-male competition and bravado, I think it’s done out of resentment towards someone perceived as a social superior who looks down on them.
An incredibly perceptive comment and one that made us reconsider our choice and sparked considerable discussion. Here’s Lawrence Everett Forbes:
I agree with the ethnicity of the construction worker, but wonder why it would be better if he were white. Does that not equate “whiteness” with neutrality—and if so, isn’t That just as racist? I ask that question, not just of you Patrick, but of our society as a whole.
To which Patrick responded:
My point was not about racism, but more broadly about status. If he was a white man in a hard hat my point would have been the same, because manual work has a low social status, but I thought the fact that the photo used was of a black working man was also worthy of comment, adding race prejudice to the class prejudice. Perhaps that has obscured what I was trying to say.
And Lawrence again:
No—I understood what you meant. Your comment just made me wonder aloud. I wasn’t accusing you of being racist. It’s just an odd catch-22. Include someone of European descent, you leave yourself open for being called exclusionary. Place someone of non-European descent, you run the risk of falling into stereotype.
What a great conversation—and one that should really continue! Consider this post as more firewood on a worthwhile flame. Keep it stoked, folks!