*A video that shows a woman walking down a street in New York city, enduring one cat-call after another, has gone viral. Many women can relate to the extremely unpleasant experience.
I know I can. The situation it reveals caused me a lot of anguish growing up between the ages of 18 through 21 in New York City.
Then and now, many men apparently believe they are complimenting women when they call out to them on the street because they look good. They actually believe that when they say things like, “Yo ma, can I holla’ at you for a minute?” and “Baby, you sure look good!” women should be pleased, because to them, it is a good thing.
And listening to Steve Santagati, an author and self-proclaimed dating expert who alarmed many as a guest on TV host Fredricka Whitfield‘s CNN program, these men are right. Santagati participated in a heated debate on the issue with New York-based comedian Amanda Seales.
Santagati’s remarks bring to mind many men who maintain a mindset that has yet to discover “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” What they don’t seem to understand is that they can use that same intent but change the way it is delivered. Why not try, “Excuse me, I hope you won’t feel offended if I say you look very nice, today?” or “Excuse me, but purple is definitely your color.” I’ll bet the response from a woman would be different.
“There is nothing more that a woman loves to hear than how pretty she is,” Santagati remarked after seeing the catcall video and barely listening to the argument presented by Seales on how these comments make a woman feel.
The video, spearheaded by anti-street harassment organization Hollaback, received heaps of praise, but also ruffled some feathers – including Santagati’s – who delivered a baffling rant against the video that was at best tone-deaf and uninformed and at worst unabashedly misogynistic.
“It’s just another example of a lot of feminists that have an a la carte attitude towards it, meaning you can do this, I want this sort of thing, but they take it too far,” he said. “It’s kind of like, this thing bordered on ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf,’ like where’s it gonna go next?”
And just when you thought Santagati couldn’t get any more ridiculous, he actually suggested women “defend themselves” and “act like a strong woman” and tell the catcallers to back off – ignoring Seales’ response that a woman who had taken that action just a week prior had been killed.
“A woman got killed the other day for doing that in Detroit, actually,” she said, referring to 27-year-old Mary Spears, who was shot dead after refusing to give a man her phone number. “You sir, do not know what you’re talking about.”
Not to be one-upped, Santagati then told Seales to buy a gun – before he blamed bad parenting and the probability of cultural differences on the behavior.
Watch the full clip in the 8 minute, 17 second video directly below.