Social media has been abuzz lately over the video of the young woman walking through the streets of New York and getting catcalled over 100 times. At least that’s what we’re told, since apparently there was some selective editing done. Once again the subject of street harassment has been brought front and center for people to express moral outrage over. Me being me, I have looked at the issue and want to share my perspective.
The main issue with street harassment is not that it happens. The real issue is that the women who are being “harassed” are getting attention from men whom they do not find attractive. If one pays attention to the commentators and videos complaining about harassment, the main issue is that women are getting unwanted attention from certain men. I don’t say this lightly. When I speak, I do so based on actual life experiences. Let me share some things.
Back in the 1990s when I worked in downtown Washington, DC, I used to meet women in the streets a lot. A whole lot. I got phone numbers, dates, and sex from women I met initially on the street. Even in my books I talk about how to meet women on the street. Now, to be clear, the way I met women was decidedly different from walking up to a woman and saying, “Hey beautiful” or even “Hello.” I used to meet women at either bus stops or subway stations. Often a woman would strike up a conversation with me while sitting next to me on the bus or train. Another scenario that happened a lot is that women would simply say hello or otherwise just start conversations while I was walking down the street minding my own business. Even to this day, an occasional woman will see me on the street or especially in a mall and say, “Smile.” I keep a serious look on my face most of the time.
It was extremely rare that I initiated a conversation with a woman on the street. One time that I did was in the 1990s when I worked near the White House. I’ll call the woman Celia. She was tall, about 5’10”, had a pretty face, and big shapely legs. Shapely legs drive me crazy. She could literally cause accidents. It was of the rare times that I used real game to connect with a woman. I was walking by the bus stop when I saw her and I walked past her without saying anything. I didn’t even look back. I just looked at my watch and noted what time she was at the bus stop. The next day she was there again and I still didn’t say anything. A few more days went like this. After a couple of days I walked by and just said, “Hey” and she responded by saying, “Hi” and we left it at that. After a few days of this, I stopped and said, “We always say hi to each other. We should at least know each other’s name.” We exchanged names. A few days later phone numbers. Maybe a month or so later we went out on a date.
Now someone may say why I took my time with her. One: I read the situation. The reason she was at that particular bus stop was that she was constantly getting harassed at the bus stop that was closer to her job. She was pretty and built like a brickhouse. The combination is a magnet for catcalling. I knew that men were constantly hitting on her. By walking past her without saying anything, I did several things. The most important thing I did was set myself apart from other men. Then by walking past her I allowed her to get used to my face and to give her a chance to choose me. I knew she chose me when she would smile when she saw me coming. Also a very important factor was that I always had on a suit when I walked past her. This brings me back to a point I mentioned at the beginning of this blog: The main issue with street harassment is unwanted attention from certain men.
People who follow my blog and have read my work know I divide the male population into four major categories in terms of how women see them. Two of the categories are select, meaning that women will seek them out for relationships. Two of the categories are non-select, in that women generally do not seek them out for relationships. The two select categories are Mr. Goodbar and the Masked Men. Goodbars are select for the most part because women find them very good-looking. There are a few exceptions. Masked Men are men who look successful. The two non-select categories are the Nice Guys and the Gamesmen. Nice Guys lack the looks or look of success that will turn a woman on sexually. The Gamesmen are in the same boat. Each group of men will interact differently with women on the street.
Goodbars rarely say anything to women on the street. A man in the Goodbar category typically gets harassed by women in the streets. Some women are extremely aggressive when they see a man they find physically or sexually attractive. Ask me how I know. Goodbars also have to be concerned with gay men hitting on them. The average Goodbar will ignore all but the most physically attractive women when he is out and about.
Masked Men are not going to be inclined to say anything to women on the street. Masked Men are successful men and as a result tend to be elitist. In the eyes of men commenting on the street harassment issue on social media, blogs, and websites, most of the women complaining are average-looking at best. Masked Men want trophy women. It’s very rare that a successful man will be seen walking around with anything less than a woman who looks a fashion model. If a Masked Man is even on the street, they will be about business and will generally ignore most of the women around them.
Nice Guys are generally not going to say anything to women on the street. Nice Guys as a group are not that aggressive. They will generally be too shy to approach. At most they may look, but the average woman wouldn’t feel threatened. Nice Guys are the invisible men of the dating world. Women simply don’t see them.
Now those Gamesmen. Any real discussion about street harassment has to focus on them. Every single man I have seen in a street harassment video has been a Gamesmen. I can tell this even in cases where the faces are blurred. Goodbars will tend to have superior body builds. Masked Men will be dressed well. Nice Guys will be dressed plainly. Now please understand what I mean when say Gamesman. The Gamesman is non-select. He doesn’t have the looks or the money to attract women. He would normally be invisible to women, like the Nice Guy, except for one key factor: he is aggressive. At some point in his life the Gamesman realized that the only way he was going to fulfill his sexual needs was by being aggressive in his dealings with women. Formally or informally, he had to learn some game. One aspect of that game is to approach as many women as possible.
Most women are going to reject the Gamesman. He knows that and is quite frankly cool with that scenario. The Gamesman if nothing else has a thick skin. It’s part of the game. Here’s the thing. Say a Gamesman says hi to 25 women in a single day. Likely, 22 of them are annoyed beyond belief and will complain about being harassed. And 2 of the women will engage him because it’s easier and some women do like the game. Finally, 1 woman will give him her phone number because the Gamesman may be the only man to show her any attention. Guess what? Those 24 women rejected the Gamesman, but in his eyes he wins because 1 gave him her number. The Gamesman repeats this process for a month and he will end up with 5 to 10 serious prospects. There are Goodbars and Masked Men who don’t have that many prospects in a month.
Gamesmen are going to keep talking to women in the street because in their eyes it works. Bottom line. Now, there are extreme cases where a woman’s life can be in danger. People will say we have to criminalize street harassment for that reason. Okay, let’s say we criminalize it. Has criminalizing rape, which is a way worse crime, stopped it? Has criminalizing child molestation stopped it? Even if street harassment was criminalized, which incidentally some of it is anyway as touching somebody can be considered an assault, would that stop it? A man has more to gain than to lose by hitting on women in the street. Even if the laws are on the books, how often would they be enforced? Say a woman feels harassed, she calls the police, and goes back to the spot and finds the man she feels harassed her. Without witnesses or a cellphone recording, it’s just one person’s word against another. Police will not be inclined to arrest someone without evidence that a crime has been committed. Also the possibility exists that someone could be falsely accused of harassment. The accused could charge the accuser with slander and maybe libel as well. As someone with experience in the court system, I can say that prosecutors will not want to be bothered with these types of cases.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying just ignore street harassment. I personally believe that men should limit who they talk to on the street anyway. If a woman isn’t giving a man a blatant invitation such as a smile or she initiates the conversation, he should just leave her alone. Too many men are gassing up the heads of basic women and it really isn’t worth the trouble. That’s what men need to do. Women, on the other hand, need to examine their own actions in encouraging street harassment. I don’t mean in terms of how they dress. Women need to look at their selection criteria. Boys evolve into Gamesmen because they no longer want to be invisible. The only way for them not to be invisible is for women to change their criteria.
Now I know women feel justified in wanting what they want. Many women feel entitled to have that pretty boy or bad boy with the killer body. Women feel entitled to successful men. What I have seen over the years are attempts to shame men into engaging with less than desirable women. One thing is shaming men into dating fat women. Even though there are men who are genuinely attracted to larger women, most really are not. This is especially the case with Goodbars and Masked Men. Yet many women feel like a man should want a less than desirable woman. Friends and family will say, “She’s so nice though.” Many men can attest to feeling this type of pressure. Let’s turn this around. There’s no real pressure on a woman to take a less than desirable man. The complaints about the “shortage of good men” is really about the shortage of desirable men. The largest category of men are the Gamesmen. If women gave Gamesmen that same opportunity that they want Goodbars and Masked Men to give basic women, I guarantee the incidents of street harassment would drop immensely. All these men really want is a loving relationship. Most of them are good, loyal men. No, they aren’t fine, nor are they likely to become millionaires. At the same time, the women rejecting them aren’t fine, nor are they likely to be millionaires. In many ways, women are rejecting men who are their matches.
Now let me be very clear. I’m not saying women need to respond to men on the street. Women do need to pay more attention to men in more proper venues such as churches, gatherings, cultural festivals, or wherever men and women gather. Another way is good old-fashioned personal introductions. If a man should give unattractive woman a chance, a woman should do the same. Sometimes people find diamonds in the rough.
The only way to truly deal with street harassment is to change the relationship culture as it exists now. Anything else is simply a waste of time and energy.