The FOX News Way

Bob Beckel

To the one, we shouldn’t laugh. To the other?

Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Beckel:

Earlier this week, a video showing actress Shoshana B. Roberts getting 100 catcalls as she walked through New York City for a day went viral. The point of the video was to show what women go through, and how uncomfortable this form of verbal harassment can be.

But the point was lost on “The Five” hosts.

“She got 100 catcalls, let me add 101,” said cohost Bob Beckel in video posted online by Mediaite and Media Matters, among others. “Damn, baby, you’re a piece of woman.”

(Mazza)

Sigh.

Yeah. About that.

#NotAllMen are smart enough to figure it out.

And we can count two of Beckel’s male colleagues on The Five among that unfortunate bloc, as well.

“Look, I’m not going to condone it, but I will tell you nothing was disrespectful there,” said co-host Eric Bolling. “There were a lot of people there saying ‘God bless,’ ‘you look fantastic,’ very complimentary. She may not have wanted it, but I find it hard to find what she called verbal harassment going on.”

However, the video shows one man getting angry after not being acknowledged by Roberts.

“Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful,” he said. “You should say thank you more.”

† † †

On “The Five,” cohost Greg Gutfield called women who oppose catcalls “classist,” saying men meet women in bars using similar lines.

“She is finding fault with men in the street saying hello to her which may in fact be their only way of contacting women,” Gutfield said. “It’s their bar, and she’s walking through it.”

Okay, look, a note for Mr. Bolling: I don’t know how many times you, as a man, have had someone walk along beside you for minutes at a time trying to convince you to let him stick his penis inside you. Just sayin’, man. Doesn’t happen to me, and I happen to be gay. And honestly, man, how many times do you really think that’s happened to Beckel? And damn, I wish I hadn’t said that.

And Mr. Gutfield: If the only way you can contact a woman is by making her uncomfortable, you’re doing it wrong. The only reason we might find to even consider accommodating that sort of conduct is if society concludes that male chauvinist stupidity really is a disability. And come on, let’s face it, that ain’t gonna happen.

Once upon a time, an associate tried to make the argument that, well, you know, sometimes women bring it on themselves. Like high heels, he said, and then dropped this particular rhetorical bomb: “If you pull the pin out of a grenade, is it your fault or the grenade’s when it blows up?” Yes, that is how one blames, say, a white-collar female for “asking for it” by wearing high heels to the office. And it’s true, that one occurred in an obscure corner of the internet, so make of it what you will. However, it would seem that Mr. Gutfield is treading dangerously close to that line. And while FOX News might sound like an obscure corner of the internet most days, it is also the highest-rated cable news network, and has proven itself tremendously influential in the public discourse.

You know how we walk down the street and each have our own little customs for acknowledging the people we pass? Sometimes we nod, sometimes we say hello, that sort of thing.

It is hard to say how many women have the experience, but it is striking to hear one explain, as more than one of my female friends have, a chill that clutches at the heart in that second when one reflexively wonders if they are about to be harassed or accosted. I cannot imagine living like that, yet if we read the rape prevention tips from police departments and advocacy groups, they often seem to advise women to live in fear. How to dress, what haircut is safest, what shoes you should or shouldn’t wear. Yeah, just the perfect blend of not too tight to tempt the rapist but not too loose as to give him something to grab on, and don’t wear high heels, so here you are in carefully-chosen track suit and running shoes … for dinner and the theatre. Honestly, at what point is society telling women that it is their role in our society to live in fear?

There is nothing about this that is respectful; women are advised by society to fear and distrust these men and their behavior, and Eric Bolling wants to be offended? Greg Gutfield wants to be offended?

Have you ever seen that clutching moment? That is, you can never know because no stranger feeling that way is about to stop and explain it to you, and, you know, I may not be a handsome devil, but neither am I, say, Bob freakin’ Beckel. I’m pretty sure that shadow of a hint of a twitch in the eye isn’t her willful suppression of openly wondering at my misfortune. She’s not thinking, “Oh my God, he’s hideous! Be polite! Don’t stare! No! Don’t look away too fast. Oh God did I offend him?”

I can promise you, that’s not what is going through her mind. I can grasp intellectually the idea of that cold rush through the chest, but no, I don’t live it. I’m male. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen to me. And if it did, nobody would tell me to be more grateful for constant exposure to the people society tells me to fear.

It’s not offensive that she might wonder that way as I approach and pass. It’s tragic. That is to say, it actually comes to this.

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