I am against catcalling but with regards to the wave of new laws against it, I’m against those too. What frustrates me about the anti-catcalling laws is this. To reduce mass incarceration, we need a united left that doesn’t advocate for criminalizing minor anti-social behavior. If a hobo calls you “sugar-tits” then just roll your eyes and walk on, the police do not need to intervene and should not intervene. I’ve been catcalled a few times and while it was far less than some women have experienced, I have been urinated on thrice and had rocks thrown at me twice and have gotten hundreds of death threats. My penis has not made me immune from traumas induced by others. I can honestly say that most women of my socioeconomic class have lived much happier lives than me.
Ultimately, the anti-catcalling laws are not a utilitarian means of reducing suffering but a deontological item. The law is not meant to reduce suffering but to condemn a deontological moral violation. The logic behind it is that if something is wrong then it should be illegal. That is a terrible mode of thinking. Anti-social behavior should be addressed with science to reduce harm done. Arresting that hobo for shouting “sugar-tits” is not going to make the woman’s life easier or happier. When, in the end, the cortisol and serotonin of all parties is weighed, her life is barely affected while his is royally screwed. For the feminists who support this, I want to know what their teleology is? In the end, they see the people arrested, that hobo, as “street harassers”. Rather than what that hobo is more likely: someone who spends their nights in Fallujah.
When they did their thought-experiements, they did them in a vacuum, devoid of intersectionality, and with a hard-on for the cognitive bias WYSIATI. The truth is, if they knew that guy’s story, they wouldn’t support calling the police. Of course, if it happens, and they talk about it to their friends and family. Those people, in order to seem supportive, will likely advise them to contact the police as opposed to having empathy. In a similiar vein, during, say, racist incidents, among fellow leftists, I usually find myself as the sole advocate of mercy. They foam at the mouth and yell to throw the book at them while I seek the maximimum leniency as is commanded of me by my religion. If, according to the psychological science, there is no need to restrict someone’s liberty then, as per my Christianity, I have no choice but to support their release and reintegration without regard to the gravity of their offense. Furthermore, any restrictions on liberty or restrictions to a mental hospital (I am a prison abolitionist and believe in replacing them all with psychiatric institutions) should be as humane and pallative as possible.
Or course, this all reminds me of George Orwell’s “The Road to Wigan Pier” where he writes about the stench of the poor. These laws are not going to be equally enforced. The catcalls of the attractive and wealthy will go unpunished while those of the garish and uncouth will be punished. The effect of these laws will not be to make street harassment illegal but to be a proxy to clear the streets of the unseemly. As The Atlantic writer, Conor Friedersdorf, pointed out; open street harassment is done more by the lower classes. It is, in effect, a means of gentrifying the streets. It should be noted that criminalizing low-level sexual harassment has a dark history and, being from and living in Charleston, South Carolina, I am reminded of that history every time I see a big oak tree. Did Emmitt Till catcall that girl? Possibly. But not only sould he not have been hanged for the offense, absolutely nothing should have been done save for a lecture from his parents or his pastor.
Making a “broken window policy” for low-level offenses is an attempt at forging a bourgeois utopia. It is where everything that suburban people find uncomfortable is sanitized from their purview. Where strange people don’t talk to them. Where the poor and the ugly know their place. I am against catcalling, again. I am totally for the psychologists and the sociologists to come up with solutions. What I am against is having the police and the courts doing that and if they do, it’ll turn into Giuliani in the 1990s. My prediction is if this happens enough, future SJWs will be for more humane and scientific solutions in a future analog to the Black anti-incarceration movement. Yet, why wait for that Hegelian dialectic to play out? We can just skip to the end. To allude to Hegel, the misogyny are the Bourbons, #metoo are the Jacobins, but why wait for the Hegelian synthesis? We can just do it now.