You know, I’ll go a step further and say - there are no “men who want to compliment random women on the street [who] are genuinely good guys who just don’t understand why their comments might be unwelcome.” There are guys who pretend that they don’t understand why their comments are unwelcome. But the man who whistles out his car window at me while I’m waiting for a light, the guy who stares at me while I ride past on my bike, the guy who says “Hey beautiful!” at me and my friend as we’re talking at an outdoor cafe - none of those guys want to make me feel good.
Not a single one.
I keep hearing about this guy! The good guy who catcalls and doesn’t get how it’s wrong, the nice guy who just wants to tell you you have beautiful eyes. And every time I’m told about that guy, it’s so that I don’t react, don’t glare, don’t respond negatively. Because who knows! Maybe he really super meant it in his heart and was just trying to pay you a compliment.
Because here’s the thing - here’s how I know that the nice guy ain’t real; because I always do react, always glare, always respond negatively. I always say, “No, that wasn’t okay. Don’t do that to me again.” And a nice guy? Would come back with, “Oh, man, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. You’re right. I won’t do that again.” A nice guy who didn’t get it would say, “Wow, I didn’t think about it that way. Is this something that you think a lot of women feel?”
And that never happens - what happens is I get called names, or have coffee thrown at my face, or get shoved up against a wall, or get followed for fifteen blocks, or get shouted out from six inches away by a man who’s six inches taller and fifty pounds bigger than I am. What happens is that I’m shown, again and again and again, that these “compliments” are prologues to a story this guy’s just desperate to tell, the story of him scaring me, hurting me, making sure I know my place. And he can tell the story as loud as he wants, because he can always fall back on, “I’m a good guy! She’s the one who started it! I was just trying to pay the bitch a compliment.”
So stop telling me that there are good guys out there who just don’t understand, because there aren’t. What there are, are guys who will pretend to be good guys, right up until you don’t smile at them. And then they show who they really are.
As you know, l’m quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book, not particularly well-drawn, but the mythology. The mythology is not only great, it’s unique…Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone.
Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak, he’s unsure of himself, he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.