Catcalling – Compliment, Implicit Threat, or Just Annoying?

CatcallingThere’s an interesting news story making the rounds about a young, professional woman who took video of men catcalling towards her as she made her way to work each morning. Catcalling in this case is defined as a man whistling or otherwise commenting on how much he likes the appearance of a woman who happens to be passing by.

I’ve witnessed such behavior on any number of occasions and it always makes me uncomfortable but I’m an introvert by nature. I’ve certainly seen occasions were women seemed to enjoy the attention although more times than not they either ignored it or it appeared they were discomforted. In a strange way it reminds me of people at the gym who come up and offer unsolicited advice on how to properly use exercise equipment. It’s someone invading my space without an invitation to do so.

As I’ve said, there are times that women seem to not only appreciate such interactions but encourage them with their dress and mannerisms. I wonder is it ever appropriate to engage in catcalling? If the woman is dressed in a particular way does that invite such behavior? If a woman smiles and seems to enjoy mild catcalling is that in invitation for louder and more obnoxious attempts?

It’s all a bit confusing to this introvert.

It seems to me that it’s probably largely based on circumstance and personality. For the most part I think it is an uncomfortable practice that apparently gives men an excuse to say outlandish things without consequence. However, there do seem to be times when it is perfectly acceptable because the woman in question desires such attention. It gives men a chance to interact with women who they would otherwise not be able to engage for a variety of reasons.

Women rarely engage in such behavior although I have had my buttocks mentioned in a complimentary fashion by women in passing on a few occasions. I wasn’t offended although it was a bit disconcerting. I can imagine that if it happened frequently I would come to find it annoying although I suspect there is little chance of that occurring.

In this case the woman has printed cards which she hands out to the offenders and also offers for download to those who read her story. Is this wise? To confront the men who so annoy her? Certainly some of the reactions of the men are positive and include apologies but other men are not phased at all and I would imagine think they have increased their chances of furthering a relationship with Lindsey. Getting a woman to engage in conversation is certainly the first step in a relationship and their catcalling has achieved this purpose.

I’m particularly interested in the opinions of my female readership. Do you always hate catcalls? Hate them when it’s from someone who doesn’t interest you? Find them complimentary when used mildly although offensive when used more aggressively? Has you opinion changed over time?

Let me know in the comments!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Emotional Intelligence

Social GracesAfter yesterday’s post summing up my conclusions on intelligence I got a comment asking my opinion on how I thought “Emotional Intelligence” factors into success. So that’s today’s topic. I admit a complete lack of knowledge on this subject but that isn’t going to stop me from telling you all about it!

A quick perusal of Wikipedia reveals the following definition: Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.

I’m willing to get over my initial distaste at the combination of the words “Emotional” and “Intelligence”, as the two things are paradoxical in many respects, and try to break down the concept. It seems to me what is being said here is equivalent to social graces. People who are good at judging others’ emotions get along in social gatherings. They are good at “reading” what another person is feeling and are able to respond appropriately. As a card-carrying member of the Aspberger Team this is not exactly my forte but I can certainly recognize the trait in others.

This is supposedly testable using something called the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT … for short (insert eye roll here)). Event this admits it is testing against social norms. I don’t want to get into a big debate about testability. It is pretty clear that getting along socially is part of success in life, in answer to the original question.

So, if we say high intelligence leads to success are we not also bound to say that high emotional intelligence, or social graces, also tend to lead to success in life. My answer is … yes. Sadly.

Why sadly? I’ll tell you why. Because being good at social graces doesn’t mean you are good at achievement. People who are good at social graces get far in life. They convince people to trust them, they achieve positions of power, but they do not have the ability to actually achieve great things once they get there. There are exceptions, naturally. Some, rare, people have both high intelligence and high social graces. But, by and large what we are talking about here is The Monkeys or Milli Vanilli. Fake musicians who make millions of sales without doing anything other than being socially adept.

How many times have you lamented “politics” at work? This is someone using social graces to achieve promotion. Why do we call it “politics”? Because that is what politicians do. They get elected not on their actual qualifications but upon their ability to manipulate the emotions of voters.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe … well … probably. My social graces are next to nil. But, I think I make a valid point here. We want people who have the talents to get things accomplished in positions of power. Would you rather hire a charming plumber or a competent one?

I’ll wrap this up with a test question I’ve been asking for year. How you answer it is telling in this social intelligence versus intelligence debate.

Place in order your preferences for the checker in your lane at the grocery store:

  1. Friendly and Fast
  2. Friendly and Slow
  3. Surly and Fast
  4. Surly and Slow

My order is 3-1-4-2.

Yep, I prefer Surly. Why? Because I don’t want to have a conversation with the checker. It is rude to the people waiting in line and, frankly, I’d rather be at home analyzing my chess games and planning my next Dungeons and Dragons session.

In all seriousness, the issue isn’t black and white. Everyone has shades of Intelligence and Social Intelligence. But, I stand by my conclusions. I’d rather have competent people working with me than socially adept ones.

Tell me what you think!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist