Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Call and Response

Something has truly skewed awry in this world, and basic tenets of decency falter when proclamations of horniness from jeep windows can be issued prior to happy hour. 
This is how my day starts.
And really, I know that they're not actually horny.  For one, it's 7:45 a.m., and they aren't 14 year-olds.  But this whole cat-calling thing, it's never actually about sex or sexual attraction, now is it?

I started thinking about this phenomenon in earnest when I first moved to D.C. and lived in a "transitional" neighborhood that required a disagreeable slog a few blocks to the most harrowing grocery store you've ever seen.  There was a particular apartment complex en route that included such amenities as surly loiterers permanently leering.  I came to realize they were an institutional fixture of that block, and when preparing for my shopping, I'd don my grocery outfit: an oversized hooded sweatshirt, hood pulled up over hair that was ratted out to Timbuktu, big baggy pants, and a stoop-shouldered shuffle.  The goal was androgyny.  The boys didn't care.

It was then that I realized point 1 of cat-calling: It makes virtually no difference whether you are actually attractive or not.  I mean, of course if I were to walk in some frilly Paris Hilton mini like all the 13-year-old skankettes in town, I'd get my share of grief.  But the point is, you can minimize it with your hoody sweatshirt, but you can't escape it while you're still recognizably female.

My grocery jaunts also brought along point 2 of cat-calling.  As most girls can tell you, the generous offers of sexual favors will never, never, but never come from a lone gunman.  On the other hand, if you're walking past a stationary group of 3 or more gents, it's practically assured.  If the boys are in motion, it's less likely, but still possible.  There is probably some physics explanation for this involving the doppler effect, but I can't work it out.  I'm just a girl.   
Since it's painfully obvious that these pitiful yelps from sad little shitslices aren't actually about sex, I came up with a few theories as to what they are about.  Not to go all feminazi on you, but it seems clear to me that there's a power component in there.  They can shout what they want to you and you can't do anything back.  If you respond, which they're dying for you to do, it's ill-advised provocation.  This verbal domination is a proxy for something more unseemly, methinks. 
And let's face facts. 
The fine specimens shouting at you from car windows or streetside benches aren't the weak-knee, swoon-inducing gallants of girlhood dreams.  They're just these guys.  These sad, sad guys, and they know that all the girls walking by don't need 'em for anything, and don't even see them.  Maybe something from their primitive, hunter-gatherer, prehistoric instinct rises and rages against their nose-picking imbecility and shouts "Do something!  Beat your chest!  Show your plumage!  Gore your rival!" and through the muck of centuries of evolution and civilization, this comes through their mouths as "Hey sweet thing!  I'm horny!"


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