What we are used to isn’t automatically what’s right

Some people on Fox News – to be more precise, four women and one man on Fox News – have a conversation about catcalling women in the street. Olivia Kittel at Media Matters comments.

On the August 28 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, hosts highlighted a New York Post opinion article that suggested women “deal with” “flattering” catcalls. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle defended street harassment saying, “let men be men,” and, “look, men are going to be that way. What can you do?”

She summed up with:

They mean it in a nice way, I think, like they find you attractive or they want to pay a compliment.

Which is a stupid and irresponsible thing to say. Some do, maybe, and up to a point, but not all do. You know how we know that? Because many get hostile if the women react in ways they don’t like.

But after that the one man took over, and did far more talking than any of the women had, until I got irritated and stopped watching at 2:40. But how classic is that?

Guest host and Fox contributor Arthur Aidala reenacted his personal signature “move” — aiming a slow round of applause at women on the street, which one host said she’d find flattering.

He said his slow clap – which he stood up to perform, standing over all the women, just in case we’d gotten confused somewhere along the way – gets him “a 90% success rate” – he gets a smile. Really? It looks incredibly creepy, to me. But he’s confident that he would just love the same treatment. He said “I don’t know about the ladies but” – he gets up in the morning and tries to dress nicely, he’d love it if more people would let him know. Really? Strangers in the street? I don’t believe that for a second. He’d be repulsed and outraged if men did it, and if women did it he would assume they were hookers – that’s what I think.

Strangers squawking at you in the street just isn’t that much fun. The Fox women actually mostly did admit that to some extent along with minimizing it or dismissing it or saying they’d gotten used to it.

Yes, we can get more or less used to various things, some of us more easily than others. That doesn’t mean the things we get used to are fine. We get to expect better treatment even if we are accustomed to shitty treatment.


  1. quixote says

    Women are always being called upon to take care of male egos. If it was so complimentary, women would be catcalling strange men in the street all the time.

    The weirdness of that mental picture is all you need to tell you how “complimentary” it is.

    It’s a power play, pure and simple. It’s telling someone, “This is my street. Not yours.” It’s telling her, “I can break in on your thoughts and time and attention any time I feel like it. You’re not a person I have to respect. You’re just a stray cat I can pat if I want to.”

    And that’s when it’s not even a prelude to worse impositions.

  2. Eristae says

    He said his slow clap – which he stood up to perform, standing over all the women, just in case we’d gotten confused somewhere along the way – gets him “a 90% success rate” – he gets a smile.

    I don’t know about most women, but I smile as a defense mechanism. Some guy does something that really, genuinely creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable? I smile because it generally reduces the hostility of whatever response he may direct at me. It’s actually gotten to a point where it’s reflexive. Often I don’t smile because I’m happy, I smile because some guy is scaring the shit out of me and I want to placate him so he won’t hurt me. I have to be really comfortable with a guy before I’ll say, “Dude, that was creepy.”

  3. Sili says

    “look, men are going to be that way. What can you do?”

    And yet feminists are supposedly the ones with a low opinion of all men?

  4. Anton Mates says

    Y’know, I can well believe that Aidala has occasionally been catcalled (by a woman, so he didn’t risk catching Teh Ghey) and enjoyed it. I’ve been catcalled and enjoyed it. I’ve been goosed, unexpectedly, in the street, by a stranger of a gender I’m not attracted to, and enjoyed it.

    But so what? I’m not most women. I’m not even a woman, and neither is Aidala, so what we would enjoy isn’t very relevant to whether it’s a good idea to harass random women on the street. There are lots of reasons why the experience of street harassment is very different for the average man than for the average woman. Men experience it much less frequently, for one thing; it tends to be more overtly friendly, and doesn’t immediately morph into angry insults if we don’t respond appreciatively; it’s less likely to escalate into violent assault; and so on.

    And the thing is, Aidala almost certainly realizes this. He’s a conservative pundit, so I’m sure he believes that men and women are fundamentally different, and that women don’t react to everything the same way men do. (In fact, if a woman did react to everything like a “typical” man, he’d probably think there was something wrong with her.) He just doesn’t want to actually listen to the women around him to figure out what those differences might be.

    Also, that slow clap thing is massively creepy. At least a wolf-whistle is brief and predictable; a slow clap is startling, prolonged, and not even obviously appreciative. People slow-clap to make fun of you for doing something stupid.


    I don’t know about most women, but I smile as a defense mechanism.

    AFAIK a lot of women do that, and I’d bet any amount of money that Aidala knows this. He probably thinks women should smile when they’re nervous, because part of traditional femininity is smiling almost all the time. The fact that he can then point to that smile as evidence that she likes whatever he’s doing is a feature, not a bug.

  5. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Honestly, the more I think about the slow clap the ruder and more obnoxious I think it is. The guy really must be a major asshole.

    Seriously. The slow clap meme is generally like a sarcastic “well done” in response to someone acting like people should be impressed by something trivially easy they just did.

    Also, coming from someone like this guy, who is presumably clean cut and well dressed when he does this, there is a distinct vibe of “I will get away with anything I do to you” because he’s exactly the sort of respectable guy who doesn’t do that sort of thing that the system is designed to protect.

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