One of the big media stories last week was the Hollaback video depicting catcalling of a woman who happened to be out walking while female, preceded by a hidden camera operator. I'm a dude, I haven't been catcalled very often... one memorable occasion that occurred in my twenties was while biking, when a fourteen year old girl greeted me with a sing-song, "Hi, Irish boy!" It was cute, she was a sweet kid, and I replied, "Hi back at ya, colleen!" The imbalance of power in this case was so much in my favor that it was a harmless, even a charming occasion. If I had been the one initiating the conversation, it would have been creepy and intimidating.
I've never been one to catcall, I see it as a ridiculous exercise, fit only for making women upset and men foolish. Also, looking like the guy in my profile pic, I know I can come across as somewhat fierce and intimidating looking... while I can easily snap into "Big Bad Bald Bastard" mode, my general attitude on the street is one of threat-minimization. I make an effort to at least acknowledge the presence of others on the street, with a nod or a greeting, but I make sure to maintain eye-contact, rather than going all Tex Avery wolf. Basically, I try to live by the motto "don't be a dick" most of the time... if some woman wants your attention, she'll know how to get it.
A lot has been made of the fact that the majority of the catcallers on the video were black and latino men of "lower status". The fact that footage of white harassers didn't make it to the final video is disturbing, but I'd also offer that lower-class black and latino men live more of their lives in the public view- they aren't insulated from the general gaze by office entry-control or the gates of private clubs. Upper-class men are probably more likely to engage in workplace harassment than street-harassment. Like most of the sins of the wealthy, the sexual peccadilloes of the wealthy are less obvious than those of the poor, even if they are more serious.
I don't have any prescription to fix the problem, other than, "Dudes, don't be dicks." Basically, this post is a great excuse to post a video for Pablo Picasso by The Modern Lovers, which is basically the theme song for this video:
I never knew that David Bowie did a cover version of the song... I bet David Bowie never tried to pick up girls and got called 'asshole' either: