In the early hours of Saturday, May 24, a young man accused of serially harassing young women on the streets of Toronto was hit with a shocking revelation: women are related to men! During one such catcalling instance, he discovered that his victim did in fact have a brother. This condition is not quite as rare as he first thought … as a matter of fact, it is incredibly common. That’s right: every girl you know has, at some point, had a father, brother, husband, or another male relative of any sort.
Now that we realize catcalling will be affecting men all across the country, what does this mean for us? Does this mean everyone is doomed to a life of never violating another’s personal space again? This game changing information has left catcallers across the nation in a state of confusion. While the young man is suffering an existential crisis, the rest of us are learning to move on from the breaking news.
I’m gonna put down the sarcasm pen now. The overwhelming number of videos, pranks, and social experiments being shared with this message screams an unpleasant message for all girls watching. It says ‘your worth is derived from being a man’s daughter, and not your own existence’. Perhaps these socially charged videos come from a place of good intention, but the message it sends only harms us as a society. It begs the question: if she were no one’s sister, would you still respect her?
If you needed the realization that girls have fathers, brothers, husbands, etc. to deem them worthy of respect, you no longer have mine. What does it say about us if a society only recognizes humanity by appealing to someone else’s? The statement, “before you harass a female, just remember.. She is someone’s sister. She is someone’s mother.” appeals to the emotions of a man, and how they would feel if someone close to them were harassed. Yet it completely ignores the women being victimized and her basic sense of security. Catcalling is dehumanizing and invasive; you have inserted yourself into another person’s personal space and to yell about parts of their body and looks. To add to that, it is frightening. The idea of it progressing from a verbal to a physical assault based off how they react is always at the back of a woman’s mind when in these situations. These are not issues to be taken lightly, the point is: people should not be treated like this.
To strangers on the street, I am not a wife, sister, or daughter. I am a person, with every right to be treated with civility and consideration. And that needs be sufficient to have a decent being’s respect. The need to create narratives that affect males around me before you decide I am worthy of basic manners is just as backwards as the act of catcalling itself.
Women are to be respected because they are human beings. It is as simple as that.