Sexual Harassment; Boys will be Boys?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
12 Jun 2010

Is it ok for a boy or man to cat call to a hot babe walking down the street? In this day and age it seems weird to be asking this question but many if not most women have heard cat calls or rude comments by men and boys. Young men and women learning about social interactions are a bit awkward about it in their teens and often think behaviour like this is ok. While there is no excuse for poor manners hopefully they soon learn that women feel harassed by the unwanted advances.

In this post I will attempt to talk a bit about sexual harassment on the streets and what I think of behaviour like this. I will also attempt to put this into the proper context from the greater self defense perspective. To get this conversation started – take a look at this video I found at the Strategic Living Blog about Miss Washington D.C.’s experiences.




First off what is harassment or sexual harassment? I am not going to deal with workplace harassment but more of the street variety. I think a good definition would be any unwelcome advances because of a person’s sex. The reason is there can be same sex harassment too but I will focus on men harassing women in this post. Do women have a right to equal treatment in our society? I would argue yes although that may not be strictly correct in some countries. If you agree with that statement, are women treated as equals by men? Many times yes but there are some men that treat and think of women as sexual objects.


Why might you be thinking, am I focusing on men harassing women? The short answer is I believe that is more of a problem then women harassing men or same sex harassment.


So is this fair? Nope. Should women expect some men to act poorly and some might say criminally? I would say yes. Miss D. C. makes an excellent point that women should not take this type of behaviour but rather should learn strategies to deal with harassment. She mentions a couple of websites that women can share their experiences at: Holla Back DC  and Stop the Street Harassment. Here is another video that depicts how women feel as they are being harassed.


WARNING – Some strong language


As you can see women being harassed by strange men do not take the cat calls as complements. Should women just tolerate this because  after all – boys will be boys? Are women asking for the cat calls because it is hot out side and they are flaunting it in a summer dress?


Huh? I say HELL NO!


If women tolerate this – boys and men will just think it is ok to treat women like sex objects. Women have made great strides in the workplace in the US since the civil rights act of 1964 and subsequent updates – so standing up for what is right is part of the process of making changes in expectations.


Men and boys should understand this because we all have a mother, grandmother, sister, wife, girlfriend and female acquaintances that are important to us. One could argue if a man harasses any women he is granting the same license for other men to treat the women in his life badly. I doubt you would find any men to agree to that.


In the greater context of self defense, all of us have to endure some harassment at times to keep ourselves safe. What I mean is no one is immune to harassment, muggings, and such in life so we have to be prepared to deal with whatever happens. I don’t mean that just because men have to deal with harassment that what women have to deal with is no big deal but rather men should be more sympathetic to women’s plight!


Some men might have the classic case of kick the dog. I mean a guy gets hassled by some gang bangers so he goes after the cute gal that happens by to feel superior. Bad move – very poor form. Regardless of the reason girls and women should learn how to keep safe and not give these guys the time of day.


Guys and gals being human will still be attracted to the opposite sex but with a little civility we can all interact in such a way to let the opposite sex feel comfortable. So if you see “boys being boys” you might put the bug into their ear to behave themselves – how would they feel if their wife was treated like that? I guess a post on a blog will not change things too much but in the context of self-defense we should all attack the causes of bad behavior and take a self defense class as a minimum in case things get out of hand.

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7 Responses to “Sexual Harassment; Boys will be Boys?”

  1. Zara Says:

    Nice use of the categorical imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Immanuel Kant) If you don’t want your wife harassed or called names don’t do it yourself. That being said I don’t know if this is such a big problem, in my experience only stupid and vulgar men will act this way and one may hope they’re still a minority otherwise education (both in schools and at home) has failed miserably. Words are only words and fairly harmless, the question is whether such rude and vulgar men can really be changed and whether one should take the trouble (and risk) to act as a kindergarten teacher and correct them everytime. Aslong as they don’t become violent or really obnoxious (you tell them off and they refuse) let them be and go elsewhere, places that are frequented by such types are not generally fun to hang out in and sleasy behaviour is largely promoted and reinforced in sleasy surroundings. The advantage of loud mouthed baffoons is that it’s immidiately clear how they feel about women and hence they can be easily avoided, a lot of rapists and mysogenists act all smooth and caring at first to win a woman’s trust and do far worse to them than call them names.

    Women can be quite rude towards men too, lets not forget that: if you as a woman ridicule a man or make fun of him because he shows interest (in itself a compliment) or lead him on and give him the cold shoulder afterward you are pushing him towards mysogenism and you lose the right to complain if you get called names or treated unfairly. Respect should be mutual and certain skirmishes just aren’t worth being fought.

  2. Dr. J Says:

    In the history of the world has a guy ever got the object of his attraction making cat calls, etc at her? Call me silly, but if I like a woman, I try to approach her in a way that at least gives me a chance, even if a very small chance.
    Dr. J recently posted..Lab Notes: 20 Fittest Cities in America; Telling the Difference Between Fat and PregnantMy Profile

  3. Zara Says:

    @Dr. J: very true. Probably why these men are so frustrated and usually end up alone. There is justice in this world, at least sometimes. Too bad stupidity hasn’t died out yet.

  4. Matt Klein Says:

    Most of the fights I have been in were the result of someone disrespecting a female I was with at the time. Usually ignore the comments although it is very tough, but when they get touchy-feely, it is past my point of tolerance, and well, someone has to take a stand. No one has a right to invade your space, male or female.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Kids Anti Bullying Secrets: Tip #2My Profile

  5. SueC Says:

    John, I applaud the fact that you always stick up for women in your posts – you clearly believe in treating women equally and respectfully.

    However I do agree with some of what Zara says. I don’t think this type of behaviour by men is that common other than in ‘the wrong end of town’ kind of districts or in sleazy bars and night clubs. That’s not to say its inexcusable when it happens. A woman’s best self-defence is to completely ignore it and not frequent places where it happens. We’ll never irradicate rude and unacceptable behaviour from ignorant, ill-educated people in society so we just have to learn to deal with it.

    What is important is that women don’t demonise all men because a few of them behave badly – some men wish to pay genuine compliments to women and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately many women cannot discern between a well meant compliment and a sleazy catcall and give all men the same negative response. This has the effect of feeding a cynacism between men and women such that all common courtesy between them breaks down.

    In my experience most men I’ve met are courteous and respectful. In situations where I have received a remark, if I’ve guaged it to be rude and offensive I’ve comletely ignored it but if I guage it to be a genuine compliment then I’ve smiled and said thank you. However, if a man was to try and touch me in some way then that would be a different matter…..

  6. Zara Says:

    Touching without permission is clearly a big no no, as is keeping up the insults when asked to stop and in such cases I, as a man, would step in and do something about it (verbally if possible, with some help from mr right cross and sir left groin kick if needed). However, in most cases it’s just not worth it and you’ll get caught up in fights you could have easily avoided if you had kept your wits about you (male chauvinism, big ego). I pity guys like that (as dr. J pointed out they rarely get a date, let alone with someone worthwhile) and why would I need to beat on a dimwit (without bragging I think I could easily take most of the loud mouthed beer muscle out there) without him learning anything from the experience, if I can just walk away with my lady and leave him be in his sad, miserable, lonely existence. If I’m with a woman and I notice she’s so feeble-minded or so hyper-concerned about her image she needs me as a bodyguard or a prizefighter to enhance her own self-esteem and increase her perceived worth in the eyes of others I’d tell her to find another poor sap to manipulate (some women will even pick fights and insult tough guys and let their dates take the beating) and leave me the hell alone. Surely we men have a duty to protect women but only when they’re really in danger and not to bring more senseless violence into this world just because someone mouthed off and bruised a tender female ego or their own (alot of men who feel they need to fight for their women the first chance they get tend to see them as property or status-enhancing and not for who they really are) with complete nonsense and baseless accusations. Some guys are idiots, they were born that way and hence can’t help it… Don’t feel offended but pity them and know real, civilized men despise rudeness and ill manners and are prepared to treat decent women as they deserve: with affection, courtesy and respect. Men who think otherwise are just brought up badly, lack higher brain functions and probably didn’t have a good role-model.

    I still maintain this isn’t entirely the men’s fault (although this doesn’t excuse anything): just as a minority of men are rude, stupid and vulgar so are a minority of women (makes sense given the theory of evolution: if there weren’t stupid women too stupidity would have died out ages ago) and I’ve been in some clubs (not long, in case you’re wondering) where women basically prostituted themselves (out of their own free will too, or else they were incredibly good at faking it) right there and then or were so incredible rude, drunk and obnoxious they rightly deserved to be called names, although I personally would never do such a thing. Although it’s highly impolite and not done to call someone an idiot the fact is there are idiots out there (a lot too unfortunately), just like there are women to whom certain epitaphs are entirely applicable although it’s very rude to call them that. If you constantly hang out with that kind of female, does it really come as suprise you start to become mysogenistic or sexist?

    Obviously I’m a big proponent of civility and a healthy respect for people regardless of race, gender, status, class or whatever. This doesn’t mean I have to like all of them though, nor become violent or rude myself because they don’t abide by my principles.

  7. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Zara! Agreed that with most men this is not an issue. The ones that just don’t care are not going to be affected by the likes of societal expectations. I’m mostly looking at this from the stand point of women’s rights and I did not really get into how to deal with an escalation of harassment.

    Dr. J! One never knows what chances they have but I’d agree the odd cat call might lessen one’s chances from slim to none. :)

    Matt! Yep the sticks and stones mentality is a great mantra for judging a situation to be self-defense or just poor form.

    Sue! I like how you differentiated rude from genuine compliments. Totally agree that women (and men) need to deal with the world as it.