CNN guest: If women don't want to be catcalled, they should carry guns

Textbook "mansplainer" Steve Santagati illustrates everything wrong with the street harassment "debate"

Published November 3, 2014 3:25PM (EST)


People are still discussing last week's viral catcalling video produced by the anti-street harassment group Hollaback, because street harassment is a real issue that affects real people and having discussions about real issues is important. Unfortunately, this particular discussion doesn't seem to be going far. Queue CNN host Fredericka Whitfield's weekend segment on the matter, featuring stand-up comedian Amanda Seales and "The MANual" author Steve Santagati.

The debate, which rapidly descended into a textbook illustration of "mansplaining," began with Seales stating that the catcalling featured in the Hollaback video very much resembled her own experience, to which Santagati replied, "Nice!" When Seales responded by asserting that Santagati does not appear to know at all what he is talking about, he said that no, actually, he knows more about street harassment than Seales does:

I'm more of an expert than you, and I'll tell you why. 'Cause I'm a guy, and I know how we think, more than you guys will ever know. I can't get in a woman's head ... but I'm a guy, and I know why these guys do this. The bottom line is this, ladies: You would not care if all these guys were hot. They would be bolstering your self-esteem, bolstering your ego. There is nothing more that a woman loves to hear than how pretty she is.

Seales fired back by pointing out that Santagati's analysis seems to rely on what women -- not men -- think, about which he already proclaimed he is not an expert. He then turned things around and accused the "feminists" (in air quotes) of taking an "a la carte" approach to street harassment, saying something about boys crying wolf and then getting upset about women not complimenting men on the street.

Santagati went on to remind Seales that nobody is "holding a gun" to her head and forcing her -- or any other woman -- to live in New York, where street harassment is particularly common. Her response highlights one of the key problems in the ongoing conversation about street harassment (and consent), which seems to get stalled by a refusal to open dialogue:

You really should just be embracing and welcoming to the fact that women are saying, "Hey, we don't like this," not arguing why we shouldn't. If we say we don't like it and we are demonstrating that, you, as a man of honor, who wrote a book about this, should be discussing, "How we can make you more comfortable?"

"That's not going to happen," Santagati shouted back. He added a recommendation:

If you don't like it as a woman, turn around and tell them to shut up. Stand up for yourself. Act like a strong woman.

When Seales pointed out that women are routinely murdered for responding negatively to street harassers (men are also attacked for intervening), Santagati had just one more word of advice, which finally appeared to get under Whitfield's skin. "Then carry a gun."

Watch the segment, via CNN, below:

By Jenny Kutner

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