Yeah, Not So Nice and Complimentary, Is It? #DudesGreetingDudes Hashtag Unmasks Catcalls

This is one of the most hilarious consciousness-raising exercises I’ve seen in a while. One of the reasons I love Twitter is because it’s the perfect medium for this sort of thing. Sometimes, like with the #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag, it’s heartbreaking and intense. Other times, like with  #DudesGreetingDudes, it’s pointed and satirical.

Screen shot of a tweet from Elon James White. Tweet says, "You see a dude looking all hard & shit. Roll up on him like "Aye yo, smile, son. Damn." BRING SUNSHINE TO HIS DAY. #dudesgreetingdudes."Elon James White started the hashtag after getting into a Twitter discussion about street harassment. “I’m surprised women don’t just tweet “go fuck yourself” every hour on the hour. It would be a really reasonable response to this bullshit,” he tweeted. Shannon Miller suggested, “Since there’s such a wealth of these ‘nice men’ who just want conversation, why can’t they just strike up one with each other?” Elon took her suggestion and ran with it, birthing the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag.

Screenshot of a tweet from Elon James White. Text reads, "Dudes. If you feel society has lost it's decency, let's bring it back. Let's start the #DudesGreetingDudes movement! Say hi to each other!" There’s absolutely no better way to prove that catcalling and street harassment aren’t about merely saying hello or complimenting people like telling dudes to do it to other dudes.

Image shows profile of a cat looking at something off-camera. Caption says, "Excuse me, but... WTF?"

Like Amanda Marcotte said, if it was all intended just to be “nice,” men would stop once they realized the majority of women don’t think what they’re doing is nice at all.

The point was made extremely clear: Men aren’t “just” saying hi. They are being extremely selective at who they say hi to and it’s based primarily on who they think owes them attention. If, in fact, we actually lived in a culture where everyone was chattering at strangers all day, it would be miserable, especially in pedestrian-heavy cities like New York. Only women have to put up with this bullshit. That is why it is sexist, even if you take the weird sexual bullshit out of the equation.

And again, if you were just saying hi, the fact that your targets don’t like it would cause you to reconsider your behavior. If you’re trying to be nice to people, the first rule is to do things they like instead of constantly badger them with behaviors they have indicated they don’t like.

You can see that these so-called compliments aren’t complimentary at all by the fact that straight white dudes, seeing them aimed at their own precious selves, suddenly feel like it’s all homophobic. Nope. Alyson Miers explains:

Screenshot of a tweet by Alyson Miers. Text reads, "If #DudesGreetingDudes elicits homophobic anxiety, then cat-calling behavior is clearly not JUST friendly."Another tweet by Alyson reads, "If cat-calling were strictly non-sexual, pro-social behavior, then homophobia wouldn't even be a factor in discussion. #DudesGreetingDudes"And in case that wasn’t exquisitely clear, Elizabeth Plank explains further,

To be clear, this is not about men hitting on men, a subject with deeply-ingrained stigmas of its own. The #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag was designed to highlight why exactly its disingenuous for apologists to argue that a catcall is somehow a normal form of discourse between two strangers, and not a specific form of harassment designed to bolster a gendered power hierarchy.

And dude, that discomfort you’re feeling? Not a patch on what women feel every day as they try to navigate public spaces. So think about it. If you’re this uncomfortable thinking of some random dude coming up to you and complimenting you on how those jeans really show off your ass and thighs, hey, do you work out, bro? – don’t you think, maybe-possibly, a lot of women may be feeling just as uncomfortable? Think maybe that means you shouldn’t invade their space, demand their attention, even if all you want to do is tell them they look nice?

Feeling squirmy because some random stranger dude joked about demanding you have a burger with him because you look American? Think of how a woman of color feels when you approach her on the street and suggest you go out for Chinese because lol she’s Chinese.

That’s the point of this hashtag, straight white men. Maybe you really do think those are nice jeans, maybe you really would just like to talk to an interesting-looking person about their culture or your shared interests or whatever, but if you wouldn’t want some guy on the street to ask you to compliment your clothing or ask you to do stuff with them, now you know how the vast majority of women feel. Congratulations! Put your new insight to good use.

And if you’re wondering why, if there’s nothing sexual about it, you may still feel uncomfortable being a dude talking to a dude, check out what Miri Mogilevsky has to say about it. A lot of it’s to do with how different genders are socialized in this culture. But there’s some other, fundamental stuff going on:

Men who approach women in this way may or may not be consciously aware of that gendered difference. It may be simple social learning—throughout the course of their lives, women have tended to pay attention to them in this way and other men haven’t, so they’ve learned to approach women and not men. A more cynical (but still probably accurate) explanation is that men know quite well that women are taught to indulge them, and so they choose women as the targets of their attempts to make conversation with strangers.

There’s also the rarely-spoken fact that many men are almost as afraid, if not as afraid, of other men as women are. If a man pesters a woman on the street, she is very unlikely to respond with physical violence. Other men are more likely to.

So here’s another golden opportunity to put yourself in women’s headspaces. Think back to a time when you said something offhand to some big dude, and he gave you a look that made you suddenly worry you were about to get the snot beaten out of you. Remember that fear? Remember that uncertainty? Yep. Women feel that around men all the time.

Does this mean you’ll never ever be able to strike up a conversation with a female stranger? Nope! There are social settings where doing so is totally appropriate. Say we’re standing in line together waiting to see a show or meet an author, and I look your way and smile. You can say something like, “This is exciting, huh?” And if I say, “Yeah, it is!” we might even get to talking enthusiastically about our shared interest. Wow, right? (If I give you a death-glare, though, go talk to someone else and assess what about you may have set off the ZOMG CREEP alarm.)

Maybe you can ponder other appropriate settings. But start with three simple rules:

  • When in doubt, STFU
  • Don’t bother women who are walking or taking public transit, especially not when they’re studiously ignoring you.
  • If a woman tells you to fuck off, then off you should fuck. Graciously. (Hell, if you’re All That Plus The Potato Chips, fucking off when told to do so might just change her opinion of you, dude.)

And I think the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag has taught us the Golden Rule of Male/Female Stranger Interaction: if you wouldn’t do it to a strange dude, definitely don’t do it to a strange woman.

Image shows a perplexed dude in the middle of a group of partiers. Caption says, "It's called a cat call because it's as effective as trying to call a cat and get its attention."

When Bad Writing Is Good

Brian Switek pointed us at a site today that actually managed to make me laugh despite a certain monthly recurrent condition that makes me hate life, my uterus and everything.  That’s no small feat.  Anyone who reads or writes will appreciate How to Write Badly Well.  Only a great writer can write so badly so perfectly.

For example:

It was four o’clock in the afternoon and Derek was facilitating his process environment. He validated his competency, taking care not to leverage his parameters to an un-optimal degree, then took ownership of the resultant paradigm.

And:

Dr Henry Billingsworth was a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and all-round renaissance man. In the course of his long career, he had held sub-atomic particles in the palm of his hand, excavated lava from the centre of the Earth and invented a whole new mathematical function which supplemented the old-fashioned plus, minus, multiply and divide to create a unheard-of fifth way of doing sums. At present, he was absorbed in his new experiment – observing evolution in fruit flies.

And:

Penny stared down at the police interview table.

‘I’m embarrassed and quite scared,’ she said. The policeman nodded.

‘I’m aware of that,’ he said. ‘However, I’m not above using your fragile emotional state to get the information I need. You see, despite sympathising with you and, to be entirely honest, being quite attracted to you, I am very good at my job.’

Of course, after reading several entries on the site, I’m having flashbacks to several pieces of ostensible literature written in our college creative writing class, and I’m not sure if the resultant sweating is a symptom of impending nervous breakdown or just regular ol’ hot flashes.  It’s an enduring mystery we shall solve next week.

 
In the meantime, go enjoy some of the best bad writing on offer.

Hot Potato

Sometimes, the essential truth of a situation can be succinctly summed up using satire, parody, and other forms of humor easily comprehended by the left and completely lost on the right:


Late Night: Baked Potato Frontrunner for 2012 GOP Nomination; Liberals Vow to Destroy Potato, MSM Reaches for Sour Cream, Chives

It’s so accurate it’s depressing. But it’s still hilarious.

Obama Announces The Ultimate Marvel Team-Up

There’s been a lot of pants-pissing Con hysteria over the impending closure of Guantanamo. We liberals have been quick to dismiss their concerns, but we may have been a little over-hasty. A closer reading of history proves there’s good cause for concern:

Today, Glenn Greenwald makes a completely incorrect assertion:
Take note, Chris Cillizza and friends: while it’s true that “not a single prisoner has escaped from Gitmo since it was created,” it’s also true that no Muslim Terrorists have escaped from American prisons and our SuperMax prison “has had no escapes or serious attempts to escape.” Actually, the only person to even make an escape attempt from a SuperMax is Green Arrow, who hasn’t succeeded despite the help of Joker and Lex Luthor.

Greenwald clearly doesn’t remember the Magneto incident of 2003, in which the mutant supervillain escaped from his glass prison facility after Mystique increased the iron content in his guard’s blood, which Magneto extracted using his ferrokinetic powers and then used to destroy his cell. Obviously, we need to discover if Gitmo inmates do have mutant abilities, which will undoubtedly require more waterboarding, and this has to be done before the administration gets a dime to close Guantanamo. In fact, I’m pretty sure Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the subject in 2002.

Whether or not Nancy Pelosi was accurately briefed, the imaginary threat is real. We can’t dismiss the danger of terrorists being superpowered mutants just because there’s no evidence for it. That’s why it’s so heartening to see President Obama taking immediate action to counter this dire threat (h/t):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, DC – Seeking to quell fears of terrorists somehow breaking out of America’s top-security prisons and wreaking havoc on the defenseless heartland, President Barack Obama moved quickly to announce an Anti-Terrorist Strike Force headed by veteran counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer and mutant superhero Wolverine. Already dubbed a “dream team,” their appointment is seen by experts as a crucial step in reducing the mounting incidents of national conservatives and congressional Democrats crapping their pants.

“I believe a fictional threat is best met with decisive fictional force,” explained President Obama. “Jack Bauer and Wolverine are among the very best we have when in comes to combating fantasy foes.” Mr. Bauer said, “We’re quite certain that our prisons are secure. Osama bin Laden and his agents wouldn’t dare attempt a break-out, and would fail miserably if they tried. But I love this country. And should Lex Luthor, Magneto or the Loch Ness Monster attack, we’ll be there to stop them.”

[snip]

Some critics have expressed concerns as to whether Mr. Bauer is the best choice to counter the potential threat of a super-villain such as Magneto, a dinosaur stampede or an alien invasion. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that while Bauer lacks conventional super-powers, he can withstand extreme amounts of pain, has near infallible judgment, can teleport across Los Angeles and Washington D.C. at will, and can go 24 hours without sleep or relieving his bladder.

Should the task of protecting the country prove too difficult for the super-agent and super-hero on their own, Crime-Fightin’ Jesus has offered to lend a hand “in a pinch,” although he says he would rather spend his time helping the poor “if at all possible.” Republicans insist that a law-enforcement approach to terrorism is ineffective.

The Kimberly-Clark Corporation, manufacturers of Depends adult diapers, has already come out strongly against the announcement of the Bauer-Wolverine dream team, claiming that their increased sales are helping spur the nation’s economic recovery…

These advances are always so difficult for major corporations to adjust to, aren’t they? But I’m sure there won’t be any reduction in demand for Depends. David Vitter’s still healthy enough for sexual activity, right? And sales of Kleenex brand tissues, another Kimberly-Clark product, have increased dramatically since the press release, possibly due to the equally dramatic increase in despairing tears as Cons realize their usual gloom-and-doom scenarios are impotent in the face of this Wolverine-Bauer team-up.

Prominent Cons could not be reached for comment. Sources say they’re meeting in an undisclosed location, frantically trying to manufacture the next Big Scare. We wish them luck with that.

Proposals That Read Like a Joke

Looks like the Cons have gotten hold of spray paint and stencils again:


Saying something isn’t so doesn’t change reality. And it can be dangerous to delicate electronics equipment:

Windows users are being warned not to input Republican policy proposals into their computers until the software company issues an urgent patch later this month. Apparently, an overload of non-sequitur and contradictory GOP policies can cause computers running on Windows to simply crash. “You have seen those episodes of Star Trek where Captain Kirk talks alien computers into overloading,” said one Windows engineer “They start spewing smoke and saying ‘Error, error, does not compute!’ – well we are seeing increasing incidences of this occurring when users input too many GOP policy proposals.”

[snip]


Nothing in this blog entry has been serious – aside from what the Cons themselves fervently proclaim as the best possible policy for this country. How sad is that?