For Doree Lewak, summer is about three things: “heat, hemlines and hard hats.”
Lewak, a New York Post features writer, wrote an essay on Monday for the newspaper in which she went into great detail about her love and appreciation for catcalls.
It all began back when Lewak was an intern at MTV. Her “tightly molded pink tank top and black capris” prompted two construction workers to shout “You’re hot.”
“I was over the moon,” she writes.
That sweaty summer day marked the beginning of a beautiful love affair between Lewak and the men who have since offered her the satisfaction that can only come with someone you don’t know declaring that he thinks you look attractive. Out loud. On the street.
How do you know the cute outfit you picked out in the morning is, in fact, cute? Well, step outside, ladies! If a bunch of horny, strange men say you look hot, then guess what?! You picked the right shoes to go with that top, and your butt doesn’t look big, or if it does, it looks big in just the right way.
“It’s not brain science — when a total stranger notices you, it’s validating,” she writes.
Not on board? Come on. Lighten up. Women who appreciate catcalls are, in Lewak’s opinion, “self-possessed and playful.”
But Lewak isn’t in favor of all catcalls. She draws the line at any comments that specifically reference her nipples.
“A compliment is ‘You’re beautiful,’ and not ‘I like your nipples,’ a crude comment beyond the point of no return,” she writes, adding that “enjoying male attention doesn’t make you a traitor to your gender.”
There are a bunch of reasons you might take issue with Lewak’s stance.
You could argue that Lewak’s piece ignores the fact that there are many self-possessed, playful women who don’t need – or want—the same validation of their hotness from strangers that she does.
You could argue that in a world where women are still underpaid, discriminated against, and consistently victimized by sexual violence, discouraging men from yelling across a busy intersection their thoughts on the sexual attractiveness of a female passerby might actually be something worth discouraging.
Statistics indicate that 35 percent of women worldwide “have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.” The wage gap that has long persisted has increased in recent years, meaning that even with the same education, women make less money than their male peers.
You could also argue that when women condone, and even support, ‘catcalling,’ it makes it that much harder to end the street harassment that instills fear in many other women.
According to a 2014 study on ‘street harassment’:
Seventy-five percent of female respondents have been followed by an unknown stranger in public. More than 27 percent have been followed at least six times. About 62 percent of women say a man has purposely blocked their path at least once and 23 percent said this has happened at least six times. Nearly 57 percent of women reported being touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public. About 18 percent said they have been touched sexually at least six times.
But, I mean, ugh, that’s not summer talk.
Don’t you realize that there’s nothing ‘playful’ about moaning and groaning over not being able to have it all, especially when by ‘having it all’ you mean having the reasonable expectation that you won’t be followed, or raped, or underpaid?
I mean, come on. It’s summer. Summer isn’t the time to be so serious! No one wants to hear your whining about gender equity and feminism. It’s time to throw on a pink tank top, get outside, and find out if you’re as hot as you think you are.
Doree, let me put this in terms you can understand: it’s a beautiful August morning. You step out of a Manhattan subway station wearing what you think is a pretty great outfit. You hear the sound of jackhammering stop, then what sounds like a whistle. You turn, preparing to deliver the appreciative and flirtatious smile that has become your contribution to the catcall exchange that you consider a beloved summer tradition.
“HEY HOT STUFF! THAT TURQUOISE TOP MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT, BENT ON DESTROYING DECADES OF PROGRESS FOR AN ENTIRE GENDER.”