Catcalling is not harmless ever! It’s somewhere between upsetting and terrifying and I know that not because someone told it to me. I can remember being 10 and walking home from school when a guy pulled up in his car and started talking to me and saying “complementing” things to me. It was awful and I was scared. Remebering that brings tears to my eyes. That was the first time but it was hardly the last. “The emotional impact it has as girls develop is quite significant.” (From the Hollaback study) You have never lived in a world where other people express entitlement to your body and your person just because you are out in a public space. That’s what catcalling does — it says, “You are here for my personal enjoyment.” That’s why men tell women on the street to smile.

Did you also gloss over the part where 50% of the women in the survey on catcalling had been groped or fondled on the street? The part about 71% who were followed by harassers? These are children who have this as their life experience and it doesn’t really end — that’s just the starting point. That is the point of #MeToo! It’s in every industry — not only the creative ones. And it’s not because these “victims” are weak or put themselves in harm’s way. Did you see the open letter from the women in national security? This happens in all industries and at all levels. Calling it out is the right and responsibility of every woman who has had to live her entire life this way — which is most of them.

Just because you don’t understand the experiences that other people have had doesn’t mean they aren’t real or valid. You are too smart a guy for that, Robert. I recommend that you ask the women in your life, including older women, about their experiences, both with having their voices shut down and with sexual harassement. I think it would really open your eyes.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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