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“If women on the street said I look nice, it’d make my day”

In street harassment | on 08.31.10 | by | Comments ( 6 )

I LOVE this cartoon by @barrydeutsch! (Update: He’s made the cartoon available for purchase. I just bought it as a postcard and print)

It speaks to one of the arguments* I make when men tell me they’ve been whistled at and don’t mind it: there is a difference in the sheer volume of harassment that men and women face.

For example, a running friend of mine has said before that he’s been whistled at a few times over the course of his 15+ year running career.¬† Hmm. In college, I was harassed more than that in a single hour when I would go running (no exaggeration), including whistling, honking, kissing noises, and sexually explicit comments. I have no idea how many times across my 14 year running career I’ve faced harassment. At least hundreds.

That volume of harassment is annoying in addition to being demeaning and perhaps threatening. It’s hard to get some men to understand that and so I’m grateful for this cartoon.

(*Factors like gender inequality, threat of rape, and victim blaming, all issues I address in chapter two of my book, also make men’s harassment of women¬† unique compared with the harassment men may face.)

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6 Responses


Ha! I swear to god, I think this cartoon was written about me! Sadly, I have literally experienced every single comment in this cartoon, right down to the “fat ass” remark while riding my bicycle.

I have male friends tell me all the time that A) “Some women like that! It makes them feel attractive!”, and B) “If women said that to me, I’d strut my stuff and feel like a stud!”

I think men simply fail to understand that, in a woman’s mind, any one of those comments, especially while walking alone, triggers in her mind the understanding that a strange man is getting sexually aroused by her, and that, consequently, on some level she has the potential to be raped by him.


Men simply cannot fathom that these comments have *nothing* to do with anything in the nature of ‘compliments’–far from it; they’re meant to be demeaning and threatening. It’s all about the type of control that women, even in this day and age, are still hugely and painfully subject to–the type of control that men can’t even begin to imagine because they’ve *never* been subject to it.


From reading the comments of this site since it was started, this seems like a great summation of life in public for women. Sorry to you all. Thank you B. Deutsch for getting it.


The reason why men don’t face harassment like women do is because society still forces men to initiate romantic and/or sexual encounters most of the time, rather than vice versa. This is a reality that is ignored by many feminists, who can’t put themselves in the shoes of a man.


“Philip”, you can’t be serious. What’s romantic about “you have a sexy fat ass” and “suck my cock”? And who is FORCING men to say demeaning and sick things to women they don’t even know? Think before you speak.


I think what Philip may actually be somewhat closer to meaning is that many men-including, likely, himself–believe more that it’s a man’s PLACE to ‘force’ a “romantic/sexual encounter”, than he believes that lame old saw about how ‘society’ is ‘forcing’ the poor male to do something that he apparently has no control or volition over himself. Men have learned that it’s easy to blame ‘society’ and ‘biology’ for their acting on impulses and behaviors that they (the men) have no desire or wish to control or curb themselves.

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