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Jessica Valenti at age 36: Which is worse, misogynist catcalls, or no misogynist catcalls?

July 21, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Author Valenti: Uh-oh–no one’s wolf-whistling at me anymore

Jessica Valenti, June 3, 2014:

“[O]ver the years, like a lot of young women, I endured ass-grabs, disgusting come-ons and a range of hisses, whistles and stares. For a long time, I thought there was something about me that invited the unwanted attention: it took until adulthood to realize that it was the common cost of being female in public spaces….

“Because while street harassment is just one of many violations that American women endure, its prevalence is a clear message to women and men: there are no safe spaces for women. We need to be able to walk the street and simply be in public without fear. Not just for equality, but because, one day, I’d like my daughter to take the subway to school.

Jessica Valenti,  July 20, 2015:

“The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.

“[A]s much as I wish it didn’t, the thought of not being worth men’s notice bothers me. To my great shame, I assume I must look particularly good on the rarer days that I do get catcalled.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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2 Comments
  1. Lastango permalink

    Though it may have happened (and I’ve simply forgotten), to the best of my recollection I’ve never in my life heard a woman being cat-called. So, for starters, I’m calling bullshit on Valenti’s premise that catcalling (or the gaps between catcalls) can serve as a test of, well, anything.

    That said, Valenti is spot on when she points to her gathering feelings and fears of invisibility. It signals the Achilles’ Heel of the feminist life-plan: that older women cannot compete for desirable, high-status, high-SMV men. Further, their life-accomplishments are not valued by men:

    ”It’s wall-to-wall arseholes out there,” reports Penny, a 31-year-old lawyer. She is stunned by how hard it is to meet suitable men willing to commit. ”I’m horrified by the number of gorgeous, independent and successful women my age who can’t meet a decent man.”

    Penny acknowledges part of the problem is her own expectations – that her generation of women was brought up wanting too much. ”We were told we were special, we could do anything and the world was our oyster.” And having spent her 20s dating alpha males, she expected them to be still around when she finally decided to get serious. ….

    ”I can’t believe how many men my age are only interested in younger women,” wails Gail, a 34-year-old advertising executive as she describes her first search through men’s profiles on the RSVP internet dating site. She is shocked to find many mid-30s men have set up their profiles to refuse mail from women their own age.

    Dig the rest here:

    http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/why-women-lose-the-dating-game-20120421-1xdn0.html

  2. Interesting article that at this stage in my life I can relate to. I have a memory of walking with my mother and there were cat calls. I assumed it was directed at the two of us. I was indignant- this was my mother! I said something to the effect that I wished they would stop. She told me I would miss the day that there wouldn’t be that level of attention.
    Well, I’ve lasted longer than most women having able to pass for at least 10 years younger. I also did some modeling in my early 20’s. But now at 57, the attention is starting to wane. Yes, I do feel a sense of relief, because it was constant. Bosses and undesirable father figure type men as well as drop dead gorgeous men. Good with the bad. Now, while I do get the occasional ” look” and yes, it’s somewhat flattering, it’s more important to me to have the love,respect and compliments only from my partner.

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