Pounding the New York City pavement while tailing her undercover DP for ten hours, a callipygian young lady named Shoshana, garbed in formfitting black T&Jeans, reportedly scored a total of 108 catcalls (“This doesn’t include the countless winks, whistles, etc.”) from male strangers she encountered during her marathon stroll.
In general, catcalls are perceived as an unwelcome annoyance, but in this particular case they obviously were desired, the more the merrier, for the purpose of producing a video to highlight their undesirability and, in the process, racking up donations to “Hollaback! a non-profit dedicated to ending street harassment.”
The dictionary defines catcall as a whistle, shout, or cry made to express “derision or disapproval.” By contrast, the subtype of catcall at issue here is uttered primarily in order to communicate a fawning approbation of the target’s physique: “Hey beautiful,” “God bless you, Mami,” “Nice [insert body part],” and the like.
Confining our discussion to this latter type, it stands to reason—does it not?—that the typical catcaller’s objective would be to attract the target’s attention in a manner so as to foster a climate of mutual interest in each other and lay the groundwork for a “beautiful friendship,” as Humphrey Bogart would put it, not send her absquatulating for the hills in revulsion at the unsolicited assassessment [sic].
Does catcalling ever work as intended? Does there exist a non-zero percentage of catcallers that actually succeed in having consensual congress with their targets down the line? If not—and I have yet to hear testimony to the contrary—how come evolution has thus far failed to select out such a stunningly ineffectual behavior?
My personal thesis is that, until fairly recently in human history, the eminently creepy “Yo mama, what’s up?” method of approaching a female stranger on the street must have been a sure-fire strategy for getting her to disrobe on the spot and throw herself into the catcalling gentleman’s arms. But then a random freak mutation occurred in one female’s DNA, which terminated the heretofore favorable reaction to being catcalled and put in its place a sense of loathing for the males who engage in this practice. Conferring some sort of survival advantage upon females, the mutation eventually spread to all women, but the male genome, alas, hasn’t gotten the memo yet.
Just a theory.
Anyhow, according to the latest news, Shoshana, the black-clad pavement pounder, has been getting “rape threats” in the wake of her anti-harassment activism. These threats (a) indicate to her that “we are hitting a nerve” and (b) have spawned a second wave of publicity for the issue, sparking additional outrage over the kind of chauvinistic rape culture that still obtains in spite of whatever external markers of a supposedly advanced civilization there may exist that could hoodwink one or the other simpleminded 21st-centurarian into believing that the laws of the jungle are a thing of the past.
These rape threats, of course, were submitted in the form of anonymous comments posted online.
Whenever there is a situation of vile, violent, or otherwise reprehensible sentiments authored and disseminated from behind the veil of anonymity, the question arises whether these sentiments genuinely reflect the mindsets of their creators, or whether they constitute false-flag operations designed to smear one’s detractors or otherwise inflame emotions beyond the point that might be attained without adding a little friendly fuel to the conflagration.
Imagine, for instance, a shockingly bigoted comment directed at President Obama posted on a conservative website, with an avatar and a handle that gives no clue as the identity of the poster. Who left the comment? A racist right-winger venting in his basement, or an Obama sympathizer intent on tarring conservatives with a racist brush?
Or, conversely, imagine that someone with a Che Guevara avatar, who calls him- or herself the_marxist_enforcer, posts “The Fox News building needs to be firebombed” in a liberal forum. Who’s the commenter? An anonymous Marxist revolutionary hiding behind his laptop, or an anonymous arch-conservative posing as a Marxist fanatic in order to do his part in convincing the world that that’s what liberals are like when emancipated of the specter of reprisals for their unvarnished honesty?
Impossible to tell. (Of course, everyone will deny their own camp’s need to go false-flag, insisting that the enemy furnishes ample self-incriminating material all by themselves.)
So who posted these rape threats? Goofballs? Sexual predators, real or wannabe? Guys mad at Shoshana for drawing attention to the scourge of catcalling? Or individuals sympathetic to her cause, be they active collaborators on the YouTube video project or spontaneously self-appointed co-campaigners, who decided that sprinkling a few rape threats into the mix would help sex up the story, add urgency to a worthy mission, hike the influx of donations, and thus the greater good would be served?
Again, impossible to say.
Because if we don’t know who’s hiding behind an anonymous message, we don’t know who’s hiding behind it, nor what their motives are. To automatically conclude that non-disclosure of identity equals the most candid disclosure of purpose, and in consequence to run around half-cocked, jaw dropped down to one’s ankles, screaming “Oh my God, now she’s getting rape threats!” without maintaining a healthy sense of scepticism with respect to digital declarations that could have been posted by anyone for any reason, seems a bit, well, naïve.