Some men say they'd love to get catcalled. Jamie Kilstein puts that to the test.
By age 17, 85% of U.S. women are likely to have experienced some form of street harassment.
This is just one of several disturbing findings in Cornell University's 2014 Hollaback International Street Harassment Survey Project study. Others include that 11.6% of respondents report their first encounter with harassment happening before age 11, and the fact that 77% of U.S. women under age 40 reported having been "followed by a man or group of men in a way that made them feel unsafe during the past year." Wow.
But one of the saddest (and most common) pieces of advice given to women? "It's just a compliment." (Seriously. Look at some of the comments from men featured in one of our past articles.)
In a new music video, Jamie Kilstein flips the street harassment script, imagining a world where men are "complimented."
"I think guys legit think, 'Well, I would like being called handsome or whatever,' so what's wrong with that?" he tells me via e-mail. "But the reality is the men who say those things don't realize that it's not just one guy who says, 'Sorry to bother you, but you're really pretty.' That might be one of eight dudes who go up to that one woman in one day. And they all don't sound like that. Most don't."
It'd be great if we lived in a world where people could just compliment strangers. But we don't, and it's complicated.
"In a perfect world we would live and respect each other, and every once in a while you might be struck by such beauty that you have to approach this stranger, tell them how awestruck you are, fall in love, and have 2.5 kids."
That does sound like a pretty awesome world. But reality is more like...
"I have friends who have been spit on for not saying 'hi,' who have been followed, who have been threatened. OH FUN! I'm sure guys want that. Live in constant terror? SEXY!"
And sometimes "compliments" turn deadly. Sadly, there's no way to distinguish until it's too late.
Last year, Mary "Unique" Spears, a 27-year-old mother of three, was shot and killed after declining a stranger's advances. And less than two months after promoting an editorial titled "Hey ladies! Catcalls are flattering — deal with it," the New York Post reported a story about a 26-year-old woman having her throat slashed after turning down a stranger's request for a date.
"Women aren't there to put on a show for us. Who wants to be told to smile as they're walking through NYC?" says Jamie. "It's such a creepy thing to go up to a stranger and request."
Take a listen to Jamie's (very NSFW) trip into the a world where men get "complimented" below.
Seriously, though, this has some pretty explicit language, so if that's not your thing, you might want to pass on this video.