Despite what you may have read earlier this summer, men yelling at women on the street is not a form of flattery. Really.
On Tuesday night, the Daily Show's Jessica Williams absolutely nailed what makes catcalling both frightening and infuriating for women just trying to get through the day.
Williams' clip followed a video in which a sleazy Fox commentator says that his preferred catcalling method involves applauding women who walk by him. Williams then begins her segment by smugly clapping by herself and offering some "unsolicited comments" of her own.
"This is just how we women show our appreciation for the male gaze," she says, before launching into a hilarious and deeply satisfying takedown of men who tell women to smile and catcalling in general.
As Williams makes clear, clapping at women on the street is still, in fact, harassment, because "going to work isn't a performance. We're not looking for applause. And what he's doing is basically just a high-minded Lincoln Center version of 'Hey Sweet Tits!'"
She continues, "And believe it or not, getting the horny clap of approval does not improve my day. It actually creeps me out. So guys, get some impulse control, 'cause I've got some shit to do."
Watch the full clip:
Williams has handled feminist issues with aplomb before, including her amazing spiel against rape culture on college campuses this past June. She's not the first funnywoman to break down what is so messed up about catcalling, either. Just last week, comedian Nikki Glaser also pinpointed what's wrong with telling women to smile in a video for NowThis News. In that video, Glaser notes that she typically obeys catcallers out of fear for her safety rather than elation at being objectified by men she doesn't know.
However funny Williams and Glaser may be, both clips do well to highlight how disturbing these interactions actually are. Catcalling is a serious issue. As I wrote earlier this year, reports have shown that the practice "adversely affects a disproportionate number of women, people of color and LGBT individuals, and can leave harassees feeling frightened, angry and violated."
Catcalling's latent creep factor has been overlooked for far too long, but the more attention we pay to its effects, the better shot we have at getting guys to think twice before spurting "compliments" at women who are just trying to walk down the street in peace.