Now it’s time for that beloved and time-honored game, “Satire (Please, God, Let It Be Satire) or Not Satire”: Doree Lewak in the New York Post.
Summer to me means three things: heat, hemlines and hard hats.
It’s the time of year when I can parade around in a skimpy dress with strategic cutouts that would make my mom wince.
And when I know I’m looking good, I brazenly walk past a construction site, anticipating that whistle and “Hey, mama!” catcall. Works every time — my ego and I can’t fit through the door!
I’ll never forget my first time: At age 20, interning at MTV in Times Square and taking advantage of the company’s liberal summer dress policy, I was wearing a tightly molded pink tank top and black capris when I strolled by two construction guys on a lunch break.
“You’re hot!” they shouted, high-fiving one another.
I was over the moon. What a contrast from those coy college boys who never expressed how they felt. This was a brave new world, where guys tell it like they see it.
Now, a decade later, I still get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling whenever I walk past a construction stronghold. I’ve learned that it’s not what you wear — the skimpy sundresses, the sky-high heels — but how. Walking confidently past a mass of men, making eye contact and flashing a smile shows you as you are: self-possessed and playful. The wolf whistles that follow will send your ego soaring.
Now, I don’t happen to remember my first time, because it’s kind of been drowned out by the memories of so many other times. Other women remember their first times distinctly, because traumatic experiences when you’re 15 tend to stick with you. It’s also true that it’s not about what you wear, because that 12-year-old in her school kilt is definitely attracting male attention with her hip-swinging, womanly playfulness rather than her knee socks.
(Me, I was in jeans and an oversized football jersey when I was followed by a slow-moving pickup truck full of hooting men asking to know if I offered fries to go with that shake, and who responded to my stony silence by telling me that it was okay, because “[they] like it when they’re quiet.” I felt like a princess, y’all.)
It has to be satire, though. Lewak has the awareness to namecheck Cards Against Harassment, which, she says, “launched a fierce online debate about how catcalling is a form of abuse, leading to a climate that oppresses women further.” (She also could have mentioned hollaback!, Stop Street Harassment, and #YouOkSis, which draws attention to and support for women of color who have been victims of street harassment.)
But the mystique and machismo of manly construction workers have always made my heart beat a little faster — and made my sashay a little saucier. It’s as primal as it gets, ladies! They either grunt in recognition or they go back to their coffee break. It’s not brain science — when a total stranger notices you, it’s validating.
Yes, the primal mystique of grunting strangers always gets my validation-zones tingling. And also:
I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention.
Because Jesus Christ.
Oh, don’t go rolling those sanctimonious eyes at me, young women of Vassar: I may court catcalls, but I hold my head high. Enjoying male attention doesn’t make you a traitor to your gender.
Isn’t feminism all about self-empowerment, anyway — or am I just lifting from an impassioned speech by a college porn star named Belle Knox?
sounds awfully familiar.
So I put it to you,
ladies commenters. Doree Lewak and her catcalling mystique: Satire (please, God, let it be satire), or not satire?