In Response To ‘Street harassment: There are some things only a man can explain’.

Yesterday Katy Guest wrote an article in The Independent, trying to explain why men feel the need to ‘cat-call’ women in the street, and why 37% of female students have received “unwelcome sexual advances” and why “two-thirds of students were aware of “unwanted sexual comments”.

She seemed to think firstly that this was just a male problem and that the issue boiled down to something as simple as wanting to impress our mates, and that making unwarranted sexual advances towards women was simply about trying to look the big man. This is ultimately not the case I’m afraid, and it seems that actually, Katy will never be able to understand why some men feel the need to behave like this, why? Because she has a vagina!

I know that a lot of people will not like to hear that, but I also know that men aren’t the only section of society which make un-warranted advances. I have been grabbed, pinched, stroked, whistled at, called too, hugged and kissed by women who didn’t understand that those actions were making me uncomfortable. I however will not be presumptuous enough to explain the behaviour of the women who made me feel uncomfortable, because I don’t know what drives some women to act like that, what I can do though, is try to explain why some men behave that way.

(By the way, for anyone thinking that a man cannot be sexually harassed or for anyone who thinks its funny to harass a man. I urge you to watch the video in the following link. Why Rape Is Sincerely Hilarious * Please watch in full before commenting, it is not what you think!*)

It is nowhere near as simple as saying that we just want to show off in front of friends, although I admit that sometimes that may be a part of it, but there are many other important factors to consider. Things like social norms play their part, genetics and evolution play a major role, and a lack of education is an important factor. I’m not trying to defend the actions of the minority of men who make these advances, I want to make that very clear, but I do want to explain why some men behave this way.

Part of the problem is with our genetics, we are hardwired to look for sexual partners, when you see a guy ‘eyeing up’ someone in the street, it’s basically down to the oldest, simplest, and darkest part of our brain. It is the last vestige of the animal brain that still resides within us. It is the part of the brain that thinks only of eating, sleeping, defence, attack, and reproduction. Now most men are able to control the animal brain, we have evolved higher social functions in order to reign in our base impulses, this is what gives us our capacity to reason, learn, feel empathy, and not try to have sex with everything that moves. But, when we see a woman (or man) which we find sexually attractive, we are going to look; there is no two ways about it! We may not like it, we may not be proud of it, but it happens. It’s just the way we are.

It is also the animal part of the brain which is active when some men make advances towards women, and which makes them shout, and call. The animal is telling us to be an ‘Alpha’ in order to attract the person we find sexually attractive, for some men, being an Alpha means being the biggest physically (which is why a lot of men hit the gym to gain muscle, they aren’t doing it to wrestle tigers are they?), but for others it means being the loudest, and sometimes this manifests as ‘ORITE LUV SHOW US YER T*TS’.

So what can we do to overcome the animal brain? Well education is a good start. We need to start teaching boys how to be men, or more importantly, how to be Gentlemen! Most men have only found out how to be men from the men we surround ourselves with, our father figures as children, and our peer group as teenagers, etc. Unfortunately the way women have been treated by our fore fathers (until very recently) has been pretty bad, women have been viewed as an underclass, or the pretty accompaniment, or a play thing for men. So it is going to take a bit of time for the real world to catch up with the progress that women have made by fighting for their equality. Most of the men my father’s age which I have met in pubs and through work have abhorrent views towards women, which go well beyond simple ‘Get back to the kitchen’ jokes. I remember being taught by an aging divorcee when I was 19 the four F’s. Find em’ Feel em’ F**k em’ Forget em’. This sort of societal sexism is not going to go away anytime soon unless we teach the next generation of boys what sexual equality really means.

I wish I knew a solution to stop this minority of men from making comments, making advances, and generally treating women as walking semen receptacles, but I don’t. All I can do is apologise for the men that do think that way, and assure any women reading this that we aren’t all controlled by the animal brain. Yes we may look at you and think ‘Oh my I’d like to have sex with her!’ But that is as far as we will allow our primal brain to carry us, the vast majority of men are far more interested in your minds, and not just your bodies!