The Disrespectful Cat Calls Have to Go

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The Disrespectful Cat Calls Have to Go

I've had this gripe before and while sometimes the annoying burn is just a smoldering of ashes the smallest bit of kindle can set the flame ablaze once more into a roaring fire. What is that smoldering ash, you ask? Stupid heterosexual men and their cat calls.

Yesterday I was leaving work walking down West Broadway in SoHo and an older man yelled out, "Yeah, baby those are some sexy lips "to which I responded, "Really, dude? That's rude, fuck off" and then he yells, "Yeah, you'll get fucked, bitch!"

Hmm. How to respond? My immediate reaction was to whip around and march over to him sitting on his milk crate and remind him that he was an utter ass because his remarks were not only sexist, rude, and unwarranted but that they were lost on me because I'm a big ol' homo. Furthermore, any woman walking down the street deserves the respect and courtesy of enjoying her walk down a street without getting harassed by old fuckers like him.

I just don't read lesbian outside of a lesbian venue. There's nothing about me that reads overtly straight either in my opinion. Outside of the work environment I opt for a relaxed and casual style of dress that is usually not a dress. If were to run into me on the street I'd be wearing skinny jeans like every other New Yorker, a graphic t-shirt, either Havianas or Jack Purcells, over-sized ear phones listening to Le Tigre, Tegan and Sara, Fiest, Sleater Kinney, Tracey Chapman, or Rent.

I carry a giant white leather purse, wear over-sized sunglasses and usually have a scarf wrapped around my neck winter or summer. My natural hair is always a mess on top of my head and you'll never, ever catch me wearing makeup unless purposefully, like for Pride or some girl dancing when I want to femme it up a bit. If a gay girl, or girl I perceive to be gay walks my way and she's hot I'll make eye contact over my glasses and shoot her a smile. I've often turned to keep eye contact until it becomes inappropriate and continue on my walk. No one is ever going to scream homophobic slurs at me unless I'm holding my girlfriend's hand (which has happened), so basically I'm a homo-undercover.

I had chat with one of my best friends, Dez, last night over $3 Vodka drinks at Fat Max on the LES about this very issue of looking "gay" or "not gay." Dez screams lesbian. No, she screams dyke. She's got the hair, the tattoos, the swagger, the plaid shirts, low-slung jeans, awesome sneakers and bike messenger bag. It is no secret that Dez, my former Friend Crush, is amazing and I love her to no end. She's a producer for a major animation studio, an animator, biker, (single), and all-around best hugger I've ever met. Walking down the street with her I can feel my gay go up at least 20 notches and I'm comfortable with the world knowing that there are two dykes walking down the street.



Comments [5]

Joanne Robertson's picture

hmmm

I don't know if this is a gay issue (or not appearing "gay" enough), so much as what has happened (since the beginning of time) to femme women, as opposed to non-femme appearing women...

(In the man's eye):  Does this woman appear obviously femme enough to "warrant" a cat call, or does she display enough obvious masculine traits that I'll give her a pass?

Would a man would be so bold, as to give P!nk a cat call in the street? ... I think not.  Femininity is traditionally viewed as weak or safe, whereas if a woman looks as if she could kick the guy's ass, he's unlikely to open his mouth.

Basically men (or rather some men), view cat calls as a compliment.  It's the Neanderthal's way of telling a girl she looks "pretty".  They also get to feel some good old fashioned Patriarchal power from it.

Chances are (as a femme) if I wear my gay pride t-shirts, men still pay attention because the rest of me doesn't fit a stereotype.  In their deluded mind's, they totally have a chance (lol).

Of course, women with obvious masculine traits, or butch identified's get abuse in society for different reasons ... either way it sucks and I'm not sure if it will ever change.

Erika Davis's picture

Definitely a catch 21

Either situation sucks, you're right.  I've definitely had the guy who thought maybe I'm the sort of lesbian who likes to have a man along as well which opens up an entirely different can of worms. 

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile
www.blackgayjewish.com

geek4grammar's picture

the eternal questions...

hmm, yeah, no easy answers here. I'm in the same boat w/ you, erika-- I don't "look gay" to anyone who thinks there is a certain way to "look gay," and when I was a teenager this actually caused me a lot of angst-- I wanted the whole world to know I was gay, but I didn't want to have to change my girly-punk look. but now, I'm so far past the point where I make any assumptions about anyone I see, it doesn't really enter my head much. I know that some people do make assumptions, and some people don't, and I'm not gonna change that.

now, as a new yorker, cat-calls on the street offer up a whole separate slew of conundrums. do you ignore it or call it out? if you ignore, it's sending the message that it's okay and there are no consequences for the asshole doing it; if you address it, you risk escalation, which anyone who's ever gotten trapped on a subway car w/ an altercation between a religious fanatic and the person who doesn't want to hear it, knows is daunting. I admit, I generally just ignore it. it doesn't honestly make much of an impact on me, so why take my own time and energy to deal with some jerkface who's just gonna forget about me in ten seconds? I honestly don't think it will stop them from doing it again, so I just don't see any point. sorry if that sounds cynical...but I am a new yorker after all Wink

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Erika Davis's picture

Agreed

You're right.  You cannot and most likely will not be able to change people's perceptions-especially when it comes to "looking" gay and actually being gay.  I suppose that because I came out at 28 as opposed to 18 that I'm still in my adolescent phase. 

As a native Ohioan I'm inclined to ignore cat calls but as a New Yorker I'm inclined to get pissed off and give the offender a piece of my mind.  Not every time, mind you, because it's not really worth my time.  Still, if I've forgotten  my head phones and I hear something offensive I'm bound to react in some way.  Last winter an older gentlemen called me sexy on my walk home and I asked him if he'd want his daughter or grand daughter treated the same on the street.  He apologized and wished me a Happy Kwanza.  You win some, you lose some.

 

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile
www.blackgayjewish.com

geek4grammar's picture

aww, that's sweet :)

yeah, sometimes you can change someone's attitude-- good job w/ the old man. and yeah, I completely understand how you're still in your gay-adolescence (mazel tov!) so that's bound to affect how you view the world, and how you perceive the world viewing you, for a good long while yet. not to oversimplify, but I did go through something very similar when I came out at age 15...I spent at least a year in a constant state of panic that I didn't "look gay enough." I'd just seen the now-classic lesbo film "go fish," and I was really fixated on guinivere turner's monologue on "what if I crack under the strain of never feeling out enough." I think the only way to work through those feelings is to just keep living your life the way you want to live it...eventually you feel rooted enough in your own sense of self that it doesn't really matter anymore what strangers see. 

 

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)