Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's the deal?

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Over the past few weeks, I have recieved numerous "cat calls" from all sorts of people. I don't understand it. I am not writing this post so that I can brag about the attention I've recieved lady, but I write this mostly out of confusion. Gals, is being whistled at and yelled at flattering to you? Guys-- what success stories do you have in "getting the girl" from such tactics? Hopefully, I can predict the answer to both of these questions.

On the trip home to Texas we stopped at a gas station. It was 8:30 p.m., still light outside, and we were somewhere in Tennessee. I walked into the gas station (I was wearing jeans and an oversized t-shirt, and my hair was in a sloppy ponytail. I was not looking my best.) and this guy looked at me, noticeably looked me up and down, and said, "Hey Pretty Lady. Where are headed tonight?"

Gas Station #2. 1:00 a.m. somewhere in Arkansas. Getting out of the car, someone at another gas pump whistled at me. What? I went inside. My t-shirt was a Texas Tech t-shirt, so someone in line behind me struck up a coversation about my alma mater. They asked me in a weird sort of way if I lived "around here" and engaged in general flirting. I said no, and explained that my husband and I were on a trip home to see family. As soon as I dropped the "H" word, all conversation ceased.

Gas Station #3. 4:00 a.m. somewhere near Texarkana. Numerous whistles as I got out of the car.

On our return trip to KY, I got a couple of more whistles and comments... and that was in the daylight hours.

Moving on. Monday of this week, I went to the lumber store. I looked ridiculously out of place, but I was on a mission. I needed lumber for a VBS project Billy was helping me with, and in order to save time, I had to go to the lumber store by myself. Hey, I can handle these sorts of things. That day, I was dressed nicely and was wearing my fabulous new red shoes. As I drove up, everyone was staring at me. Granted, they were probably thinking, "What is this young girl doing at a lumber store?" But then I went inside. Where shirtless, toothless men, were staring me up and down. I also got whistled at. Well, I bought my lumber and went on my way.

Same day. I was walking down the street in Versailles, KY. Someone leaned out of their truck window, whistled at me, and yelled, "YEAH!!!"

So ok. That's that. The whistles and pick-up lines have been in gas stations, lumber yards, and downtown Versailles.

But last night Billy and I were in Office Depot. A young guy that worked there helped us find what we needed. As we left the store, Billy mentioned that the guy that helped us was a "good looking guy" and had I noticed. I honestly hadn't. Then Billy asked, "What is it that makes someone a 'dirty guy' or 'gross guy' that you think is hitting on you, and what is it about a guy that would make you think he's just a nice guy?" He was not meaning me, specifically. He just meant "you" in the general sense. He was trying to figure out if I sometimes percieved that someone is "hitting on me" when maybe he's just being nice.

Billy does blue-collar work for his job. Billy is also extremely polite. He's trying to figure out if it's his job/occupation that would make people think he's a slimy guy, or if it's the manner in which words are crafted and attitudes are conveyed that would make someone come to that conclusion-- regardless of the job.



Jason said...

Hey Kelly (Ms. Lawson if you're nasty!) (so that's an obscure 80s Janet Jackson reference in case you were wondering, and if you were, the joke is lost and it becomes totally awkward),

Sorry about the skeezies, yo. Dana has been propositioned on a number of occasions - most recently in our own home!!

Not to be that guy that blames the culture for everything, but I think we live in a place where, because of movies, television, music, music videos, females are presented as existed solely for the reason of providing pleasure for males. Pornography has gone from the scuzzy store which no one wants to be seen in to up front and center. (I read somewhere that kids as young as 8 are being exposed to it.) Unfortunately, this shift changes how we view women in society. They become less than human beings and more like things that exist just for male gratification.

Not that any of this tome helps you deal with it - I've got more thoughts - but I gotta roll!

Kandice said...

Well friend, as you well know, I understand your issue. :) I personally don't think it's a job/status/workforce thing but an attitude/leering/creepy-as-all-get-out thing. Some people are naturally flirtatious, and if done innocently and respectfully, that's just being polite (because it can be flattering to the recipient).
On the other hand, when flirting has crossed the line to blatantly innapropriate comments without consent, that's a huge problem.
I've often wanted to quickly respond to a "cat caller"/"creepy, thinks-he's-a-smooth talker" with a very pointed statement such as:
" Do you have any idea how disrespectful you are, or are you just that ignorant? Surely you don't think that someone would actually be interested in your grossly clumsy attempts to flatter... and IF you've had success with this tactic before, certainly you were disappointed with the quality of the end result. You don't get diamond ring at the Dollar Tree. Think about it. Learn to use compound, appropriate sentences. Rethink that wife-beater...And cut your mullet."

Scott & Carissa said...

Hey! Lets do coffee SOON! I'll call you after I get off work at 5.

jason said...

sorry that took so long -

Is there a situation where flirting can be innocent? I'm not so sure. I guess that depends on the status (i.e. married or single) of the person doing the flirting or being flirted with. In my mind, flirting is disrespectful because of the feeling behind it. That is, if a dude is flirting with you, there is obviously some sort of attraction or lust behind it. What happens if you actualize that? Maybe I am overstating that the end goal of all flirtation is intercourse, but what then is the end goal?

I'm not sure I can accept the argument that someone looks at a person, thinks he or she is attractive and then feels the need to pass that on out of the graciousness of their heart. I think there's a much more basic instict at work here - something like, I like what I am seeing and I will express my appreciation. This devalues the person as a person created in the image of God and instead something created solely for another's pleasure. There is, of course, a difference between something like "you like nice today" or "dig the new threads" versus a wolf whistle or proposition, but I'm not sure I've seen or experienced an example of flirting as polite or innocent. If someone flirts with Dana and perceives themselves as being polite - that is not a fact, they are being disrespectful to me as her spouse.

In terms of occupation and correlation with respect for women, I'm not sure. Maybe you are stereotyping here. I have met plenty of blue-collar folks who are tremendously respectful of women and would never pull a stunt like those you described.

I once knew a guy who would proposition girls left and right because he honestly felt like it flattered them. When I told him it made him look like an idiot and made people feel uncomfortable around him, he tried like the dickens to stop doing it. Maybe the problem is too many guys think this way (that they are indeed paying women a compliment)?