Cosmo recently published “People Judge Me Because I’m Pretty,” by Felicia Czochanski. Predictably, the Internet is ENRAGED. Not because Felicia’s article kind of totally misses the point (catcalling isn’t about physical attraction – it’s about gross ass creeps exerting power and control over women – more about that later)…
but because a woman had the NERVE to self-identify as beautiful.
Felicia, you’re gorgeous. You’re a great writer, and you’ve got passion. The vast majority of people spend 100% of their energy consuming – but you spend time creating, and that is awesome.
Right now, the whole world is pissed at you for al the wrong reasons. It’s not because you spoke out about a problem that affects ALL women. It’s because you publicly called yourself pretty, and everyone is spouting hateful shit about how you’re not. Please don’t take it personally. The whole world would be determined to prove how ugly you are whether you looked like me:
Getting ready for some Labor Day whitewater kayaking! My fourth time on the river... and my fourth time down a Class III section of the river! Because the best possible way to get stuff done during the week... is to make weekend plans.
Or Taylor Swift:
Because, although Dove Wants Women to #ChooseBeautiful… Men Want Women to #ChooseAverage.
Don’t believe me? Turn on the radio. (Or Spotify… whatever you kids are listening to these days.)
“You don’t know you’re beautiful / That’s what makes you beautiful,” sings One Direction, in the song that made them famous. Admittedly, I've loved this song ever since I saw 1D in concert this summer...
Because everything's always worth it...
But still. The first two lines of the song are:
"You're insecure, Don't know what for
You're turning heads when you walk through the door."
But seriously, though -- look how cute I am in my new One Direction shirt!
Then there's Bruno Mars. I loved him in the Superbowl. But seriously, Bruno?
“I know, I know, When I compliment her she won’t believe me
And it’s so, it’s so, Sad that she don’t see what I see
But every time she asks me, ‘Do I look okay?’ I say…
You’re amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are).”
And heeeeeere’s… John Legend!
“You fix your makeup just so
Guess you don’t now you’re beautiful
Try on every dress you own
You were fine in my eyes a half hour ago
If the mirror won’t make it clearer, I’ll be the one to let you know. “
So, okay, John Legend. You want to be the one to let her know? And when you do, she doesn’t believe you, right? And that’s why she’s so beautiful in your eyes?
But what if you let her know… and then she accepted the compliment?
Let's revisit a story I shared in a previous post.
In 2014, Gweneth Bateman did a little online experiment. Men would often message her online to “let her know” she was beautiful – and when she didn’t reply, they’d often lash out. Usually something along the lines of, “You should be grateful for my compliment,” and ending in a word like “rude” or “bitch.” (Not so very different from a catcaller, huh?)
So. Bateman decided to try something different. Whenever guys messaged her online to tell her she was beautiful, she decided to simply accept the compliment. Here’s how the men responded:
In other words… It’s okay for men to tell you you’re beautiful. It’s just not okay for you to agree with them. Or else you’re a “vain,” “arrogant,” “ugly” bitch.
Just like you, Felicia!
I’m sorry the men of the world are so pathetic that they want to control you. I’m sorry they’re so pathetic that they get their little panties in a bunch when you say you’re beautiful. That’s totally due to their own insecurities, and has nothing to do with you.
Likewise, I’m sorry that so many women are so jealous of and/or threatened by you. It’s almost sort of not their fault. They’re just mindless, insecure members of a society that hates women with self-esteem. They’re dull, complacent people who are happy to spend time binge-watching Netflix and posting nasty comments on the Internet, rather than questioning negative aspects of the society they grew up in – and especially negative aspects of their own personalities.
The world needs more women like you. Ones who know they’re smart and know their ideas are worth sharing and know that they’re a total catch.
That said, I wanted talk about your ideas. Your post was an interesting read, and it's sparked a lot of debate... but I’m not sure you fully understand the nature of street harassment.
It’s not about being pretty. It’s about men exerting power and control over women. (See also: The Secret "Catcalls" of Educated White People, and My Problem With "Pickup Artists.")
Like you, Felicia, I’m a beautiful woman. But I rarely experience street harassment. Here’s why:
Catcallers prey on the "weak." Remember: it’s all about power and control. They want to go after easy targets. Just as muggers target people who look more distracted or vulnerable… so do street harassers single out women they think they can rattle. A point you made in your post when you wrote, "By not responding to this behavior, I'm discouraging these people from doing it again to someone else."
Except – not to blame you at all, but you said a few other things in your post that make me think you do respond... or, at least, that you don’t exactly exude confidence in public. For example:
"Imagine how it feels to have heads turn and all eyes on you when you are simply trying to get to where you need to be. It doesn't make me feel beautiful or sexy. It makes me feel like there's something wrong with me."
“The immediate thoughts of whether my skirt is too short or my shirt is too low cause me to doubt the professional outfit that I put on in the morning. I wonder if there's something stuck to my shoe, if I forgot to put on some item of clothing, anything that could be wrong with me that would cause people to stare.”
Psychology research shows that even your most fleeting emotions show on your face – and it only takes other humans a fraction of a second to interpret them.
Meanwhile, I rarely get catcalled. Probably because I have no fear. I have roamed many of the “murder capitals of the world” alone, at night, without much of a thought. When I hear women lament about how scary it is to go places at night, I have a hard time relating. I’ve never had that experience before.
Part of that is because I’m quite aware of the statistics. As I wrote in You Won'y Believe What This Cop Did After Disarming a Robber, or How To Be Better At Everything, and again in 3 Things I Wish All Girls (And Women) Knew:
If I get raped, it’s not going to be by a stranger on the street. It’s going to be by a friend, classmate, coworker, family member, boss or other non-stranger. Which isn’t any better than being attacked by a stranger – in fact, in pretty much every way, it’s worse. But it does mean that a lot of the discomfort you feel walking around alone is statistically unnecessary.
Part of it is because I have more of an “I dare you to fuck with me – no, seriously, I DARE you” attitude than an “I wonder what’s wrong with me, is there something stuck to my shoe” attitude. And, because people are experts at reading your emotions… I think it shows.
I was all, "Bring it on, 10-pound lingcod!"
And, I’m pretty sure part of it is because I’m much taller than the average woman. And man. I’m a lifelong athlete, so I’ve got huge guns that people are always asking me about (basketball and rock climbing). Not appearing small or weak, I’m sure, works as an automatic, built-in deterrent.
I wouldn't want to mess with me, either. :P
Aaaaaanyway. The point is, I'm not going to to tell you that you “should” act or feel any specific way. I don’t know you, and I’m not you, so it’s really none of my business how you carry yourself or respond to street harassment. I’m simply pointing out some of the facts:
Although you ARE pretty, you are not street harassed BECAUSE you’re pretty.
Although you ARE pretty, the pathetic creeps of the world are going to hate you for saying so. I hope you won’t let it stop you.
Although you ARE pretty, it’s clear that there’s a lot more to you. Keep writing! I expect great things!
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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