Anyway, many topics on the heart today, but let’s start with a safe one: cat-calling. Bum bum bum. What’s safe about cat-calling, you ask? I don’t know. Nothing to you, probably. Everything to me because I don’t do it and it doesn’t get done to me and when it does, I’m a 6’2” 180 lbs white man with the law on my side and a few years of martial arts experience (it’s easy to feel “expansive” when you were born into privilege). You, on the other hand, have probably been disenfranchised in more ways than one so you are more likely to perceive a threat than I am.
Anyway, I am here to write about the sexism epidemic and how I believe we can sooth the ache until the disease is finally cured, like taking ibuprofen for the acute pain while getting a massage to clear away the chronic knot.
Men: stop cat calling or behaving in erratic, sexist ways. I realize that if you run in my circles, you don’t need to read that, but pass it on or, at least, try not to cause harm wherever you go. As a caveat to that: don’t turn into white knights. Nothing could be more sexist than thinking your sisters can’t take care of themselves, and nothing could be more degrading to everything around you than believing that it needs you there to save or improve it (yet here I am, writing. Irony!)
Women: I believe you have an active role in this, too. I’ve brought this up to a few female friends and while some reject it, it still seems worth saying: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” (Matthew, 5:44)
Remember, hurt people hurt people, and the men that cat-call are the hurt ones. They never had the chance to develop compassion or empathy or perceptions of anyone existing outside themselves (as if I have, but I’m trying), so they have no idea that their actions have consequences. That’s not their fault, and they’re not bad people. They just never got a humanistic education like some of us were lucky enough to have.
A few women I’ve met seem to respond to sexism with aggression, harassing their harassers, classifying them as “evil,” “pigs,” or some other categorization which makes that person less than human, and these women feel justified or proud in doing so. They don’t realize that by seeing their aggressor as “evil” and responding with aggression, they are perpetrating the same act of dehumanization that they feel is so injurious to themselves.
It’s very easy to lump the unconscious or those we don’t like into umbrella groups like “bad,” “evil,” “sinful,” (or “the unconscious,” for that matter) all of which essentially have a baseline commonality of “irredeemable.” However, as an old wise man once said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
I realize that there is a knee jerk reaction to respond with aggression because aggression commonly scares people off, and you feel more threatened than, say, I would in a situation like that because you’re usually dealing with a group of people who can physically overpower you 10 times out of 10 and have a history of erratic, violent behavior. I’m sorry. I can’t do anything about that. I just hope we can start to see our “enemy” as a misguided friend, like someone who just doesn’t know the facts. That doesn’t make them wrong morally, just wrong factually. Not bad. Just misguided.
Also, does anyone know the heritage of cat calls? Is it possibly it’s considered a form of flattery in other cultures and a very viable mate-attraction tactic, and we’re so busy being ethnocentric we just reject it outright without taking the time to respect it in context? This is not a question I have answered. I’m seriously wondering.
Anyway: I can’t tell you what to do. I can only tell you how to do it and, more importantly, why. Remember: love is the answer. I’m not saying you won’t get angry. I’m not saying you won’t chastise. I’m not saying you’ll always smile and the world will always be kittens and rainbows. There is a place for wrath. There is a place for fury. The question is what is your motivation? Are you aggrandizing yourself, your struggle, your victim identity, or are you passionately worried about the state of this other person and helping to correct their course, ease their suffering, serve them in some venerable way? Are you alight with compassion or pettiness? Think about it. Feel about it. Check in with you and figure out what you’re so upset about, what you are fighting so hard to protect.
I’ll end with another quote that sums this up better than I can:
“What is a good [person] but a bad [person]’s teacher? What is a bad [person] but a good [person]’s job?”- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, #27, trans. Stephen Mitchell