Has Catcalling Made It Hard For You To Accept A Kind Gesture Or Compliment From A Man?

June 23, 2016  |  



Maybe it’s just me, but catcalling has gotten pretty aggressive over the years. So much so that we as women are often ready to be on the defensive, even at the kindest of gestures aimed at us from a man we don’t know. In the back of our minds, there’s always an ulterior motive, even when there really isn’t. Experience has taught us to be on guard. We’ve been conditioned to believe that saying no or ignoring their commentary could possibly leave us berated or in a dangerous situation. So naturally, when approached by a man while minding our business walking down the street, a Black man to be more specific, our initial reaction is to quickly build an invisible wall and hope that by the end of our interaction, he isn’t calling us out of our names should we decide we’re not interested.

Sometimes these interactions lead us to feel scared and sometimes they’re just bothersome. Unfortunately, I think it’s true that some men have ruined it for the good ones when it comes to nice gestures and compliments offered on the street. We don’t know how to say “Thank you” because we think it will prompt him to ask us for our number and, in turn, follow us down the street. Besides, a majority of the time, we just want to be left alone. But does that mean we should lump every guy on the street together and stop being cordial to the ones who are just being nice?

Over drinks one night, a friend of mine talked about how he likes to greet the people in his department at his job every morning with a friendly “Good Morning.” His greeting is often well received, except from a Black woman in his department. He said that whenever he would speak to her, she would either ignore him as if he didn’t exist, or she would let out a deep sigh and roll her eyes at him. He just chalked it up to her not being a morning person, but he continued to say good morning to her and everyone else. He decided to ask her one day why she often responded to him negatively and her reply was, “See, this is why I don’t like Black men and you are a typical Black man.” Naturally, he was offended by her remark as well as her attitude and couldn’t figure out what he had ever done to her for her to be so nasty to him. He expressed his confusion to me and wanted to know what it meant to be a “typical Black man” and why his attempts to be polite threw him into that category.

I expressed to him that maybe the woman had some deep-rooted resentment towards a few Black men she had encountered and that’s made her hostile towards all Black men. We got into a conversation on the idea of the “typical Black man” and concluded that it’s just another way to say f—kboy before that term was coined, which he is not. But on a deeper level, I was left wondering where we as women draw the line between being on the defense and being able to accept kind gestures from men? I’m sure we’ve all had less than positive interactions with guys who used compliments aimed at our attire or our beauty to then take things to an uncomfortable level. Who hasn’t been ogled or told to smile so we can look more desirable to a complete stranger? It’s tough out here. However, have we started to allow those interactions to impact the way we interact with men in general?

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