In a perfect world, women could exist without fear of catcalling, assault, or worse. But we’re in the real world. And unfortunately, that means women have had to merely adapt.
So, we hold our keys in our fingers Wolverine-style. We buy bedazzled pepper spray and decorative brass knuckles. While these work great for physical assaults, what about the verbal ones?
Heather Thompson Day came up with the perfect solution to unsolicited, lewd comments. Ladies, take notes—you’re going to want to use this one.
My Dad Just Told Me, ‘Never Laugh’
Twitter user Heather Thompson Day’s genius advice garnered over 120,000 retweets and 500,000 likes. “When I was 19, my boss said I should be a phone sex operator and laughed,” she began.
“I said, ‘I don’t get it.’ He said, ‘it’s a joke.’ I said, ‘explain it to me,’” Day recalled. “And that’s how I learned that once sexual harassers have to explain why their inappropriate jokes are funny, they stop laughing.”
Day explained that her boss at a radio station, a man 30 years her senior, made the comments. Lots of users also shared similar stories. Many were amazed Day came up with the idea at only 19. That she attributes to her dad.
“My dad just told me, ‘never laugh,’” Day wrote. “They will mistake your nervous laughter as compliance.”
“Instead, pretend you don’t get it and watch them explain to you why you should be laughing. I’ve used this advice my whole life since.”
A Catch-All Comeback
Catcalling is an international problem. In an infuriating UN study, 90% of men said they catcalled women “for fun.” Other reasons included “boredom” and “male bonding.”
Alright, has everyone completed their 360-degree eye roll with me? Good—let’s move on. Day’s method shifts the focus back to the commenter. It forces the harasser to either deflect or admit to their true intention: harassment.
One Reddit user says this method works on all types of adults. “It was taught to me as the ‘three whys.’ You can simply ask, ‘why?’ But finding different words or phrases is good, too.”
“For whatever reason,” they continue, “after three requests for explanation, almost all answers will have to be, ‘because I’m racist/sexist/homophobic/a plain f—ing a–hole, etc.”
Beat Them At Their Own Game
Indeed, sometimes the best solution is to make them feel as uncomfortable as they’re making you. For too long, women have been encouraged to sweep inappropriate comments under the rug.
But those days are over. Make them explain. Put them on the spot and promptly cut them down, as this NYC woman did beautifully (jump to :29).
I’ve implemented all of these techniques. In fact, I also work at a radio station and have received similar comments about my potential as a phone sex operator.
Unfortunately, the patriarchy isn’t going to tumble in a day. Until major societal changes occur, there will be those who feel entitled to harass others.
So, in the end, you have to beat them at their own game. Trust me; they hate it.