As a mid (to late) thirty something year old woman in NYC, I’ve had my share of inappropriate comments thrown my way over the years by construction workers, delivery men, loitering teens and even the occasional unexpected business man walking down the street. Now, most of the time, I’m appalled that even today, considering how far women have come in our fight for equality, that this is still a male “habit.” But every once in a while, as much as one of my colleagues would be horrified to hear it (you know who you are) I’m actually not all that offended, and in fact, might even go so far as to say I can appreciate the little ego boost that a carefully crafted and delivered comment can provide. It’s not that I need the affirmation of total strangers by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes, when the comments are polite and complimentary rather than lewd, I’m less likely to throw a dirty look and more likely to actually respond with a smile to the “have a nice day” that typically caps off the remarks. Just the other day, I was garnering more street attention than usual – for some unknown reason – and it got me me thinking about all the times in pop culture that this unusual yet somehow still prevalent male behavior has been addressed.
I’ll start with my favorite. Anyone who knows me knows that I make Seinfeld references at least once a day. So here’s (one of) today’s: As any fan of the greatest sitcom of all time can tell you, there’s a stand up clip at the top and bottom of each episode where Jerry does his bit on something related to the show, and there’s one particular time where he discusses how men simply do not know what women want. How women are subtle and men obvious, and when it comes to knowing what women want, and how to get women, men are absolutely clueless. But the one thing they do know is what they want: “Men know what men want, what do we want? We want women, that’s it! It’s the only thing we know for sure, it really is: we want women. How do we get them? Oh, we don’t know about that, we don’t know. The next step after that we have no idea… This is why you see men honking car-horns, yelling from construction sites. These are the best ideas we’ve had so far.” And then he goes onto describe the car horn honk scenario – it’s hilarious – and caps it off with “This man is out of ideas!” It is so spot on!
Onto my next favorite. All you Sex and the City fans knew this one was coming. Yes, Miranda v. the construction guy in “The Drought.” It’s the perfect example of what happens when the woman takes charge of the situation and flips it on its head. The unsuspecting construction worker suddenly retracts, only to prove that the men who call the loudest are typically hiding behind their macho exterior, protected by the safe distance of the scaffolding or construction barrier they’re standing behind, unable to actually approach a woman in a civilized manner. Miranda is frustrated, hasn’t had sex in months, and this is what ensues:
Worker: Where are you goin’, doll? I got what you want. I got what you need.
Miranda: You talking to me?
Worker: We got a live one, boys.
Miranda: You got what I want? You got what I need? Well, what I want is to get laid. What I need is to get laid. I need is to get laid!
Worker: Take it easy, lady. I’m married.
Miranda: All talk and no action, huh?
You can’t help but cheer for Mirando and all womankind. And despite the unfortunate overalls Miranda is sporting, it’s one of my favorite scenes from the series.
And finally, in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, there’s a part when Bridget goes to meet her friends, and walks past a construction site. She prepares herself for lewd catcalls and then is practically disappointed when she doesn’t get any. On her way back, she walks past them again, and hears a “huge cacophony of appreciative noises.” When she turns around to give them a filthy look, she finds out that they are all looking the other way – one of them had just thrown a brick through the window of a car. Now, in this case, her anticipation and subsequent disappointment when she ultimately was not the object of offensive catcalls is certainly troubling, and one would hope that real-life women would not be so lacking in self-esteem. It’s Bridget Jones, after all, so we can’t take this one too seriously.
Women have certainly come a long way, and it will probably take some time before men realize that catcalling is inappropriate, sexist and demeaning, so the next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, take a page from Miranda’s book and throw it back at the guy. Maybe eventually they’ll all get the point.
The Big C