Some topics are difficult to address and even harder to discuss. Issues relating to gender and sexism can be especially hard to converse about due to their often controversial nature, however, as any rhetor will tell you, nothing makes things easier to talk about than a little humor. Although street harassment isn’t something new, it is a subject that has been the subject of more fruitful discussion in recent times. In writings past, I have talked about why it’s an issue and how we might go about solving it.
However, this past week a creative and hilarious video has taken the issue of street harassment and made it approachable- starring the one and only Wednesday Addams. Melissa Hunter, a comedian, writer, and actress stars in the video as adult Wednesday Addams, who combats street harassment in a way that only an Addams could. Gloomily walking down the street, adult Wednesday is catcalled by two men who tell her she would be prettier if she smiled and refer to her as “sweet cheeks”. Tracking them to their home, Wednesday turns the tables on the two men. Telling them she’s only at their home to “give [them] something”, they let their guard down in anticipation of what they hope to be a romantic tryst.
Then Wednesday asks the men why they shout obscene things on the street at women they don’t know, to which they respond by asking if she’s mad about it and calling her frigid for not accepting a compliment. After hearing their response, Wednesday introduces her unexpectedly large and buff friends, Stenchell, Viper, and, of course, Bob. After seeing the trio of men, the catcallers are noticeably shaken, especially after Wednesday tells them that she’s hired the men to stand out on the sidewalk and pay the harassers “compliments” the same as they do unsuspecting women. When one tries to call the police, Wednesday reminds him that his efforts are futile, informing the duo “most forms of verbal harassment on public property (i.e. the sidewalk) are legal”– a true and unfortunate fact.
Now, while we can all agree that setting your burly, intimidating friends loose on harassers is maybe not the best solution to street harassment, it certain proves a point (if only it were so easy to communicate the message in this video to all harassers…). Catcalling comes down to one thing, plain and simple: do unto others as you would have them do to you. So as much fun as it is to be catcalled on the street by random men, take a hint people– don’t yell at strangers, even if you think it’s a compliment. It’s not cool, it’s not sexy– it’s creepy and it’s definitely not going to get you a date.
In a world where sixty five percent of women and twenty five percent of men have experienced street harassment, this is something we can’t ignore (National Street Harassment Report, 2014). Fifty seven percent of women have faced verbal harassment and forty one percent have experience physically aggressive harassment on the streets, which is all the more reason we need more open channels of communication (National Street Harassment Report, 2014). However, thanks to Wednesday Addams and feminist comedians out there, we can more easily start the conversation. Hopefully we will begin to see more videos like this in the future that utilize humor and sarcasm to get to the root of important issues and create a safe space for discussion.
Maddie Gallegos can be reached at email@example.com or on her Twitter page, @maddiegallegos.