This is so clueless, it's stunning. Saturday Night Live star (and recent "Weekend Update" addition) Michael Che thought catcalling was an appropriate subject to joke about in response to a viral PSA meant to shed light on street harassment recently released by Shoshana B. Roberts and Rob Bliss.
Which is to say, specifically, Che made fun of women who were offended by catcalling all together, and compared it to the amount of times he's approached by people on the street who want his photo because he's on TV.
Seriously, what the hell?
Roberts and Bliss were on point with their video, which documented massive instances of catcalling and harassment she experienced during one full day of walking around New York City. You may have seen the video (but if you haven't already, I urge you to watch it immediately here): Roberts, dressed in a simple black, crew cut top paired with black jeans, spends 10 hours total — in just one day — walks around New York, catching on video every instance of catcalling and harassment from men she came across during that time period. By the end of the day, she's covered a massive amount of ground in the city — and her tally is up to over 100 instances of catcalling.
In addition to shedding light on a reality that woman all around the world face every day, the video was meant to open people's eyes to the fact that, by catcalling a woman, you are not only devaluing her into nothing more than a sexual object, but you're insinuating that she is meant for your personal visual pleasure. Catcalling is not paying a woman a compliment, nor is meant to be appreciated.
That said, I'm pretty understandably confused by how Che gave himself the right to joke about catcalling. I'm confused, and I'm pissed off — because, seriously, how did the impact of that video fly so over his head? I understand that comedians sometimes approach difficult issues to make jokes about them in an effort to seem outrageous, but there are some topics that should not be broached because it makes them into less serious matters than they are. Rape jokes are one example, and jokes about harassment and assault are too, especially when they come from men who don't have to live in constant fear of being harassed.
As a woman having lived in NYC for just over four years now, catcalling from men is not just a constant occurrence in my life — it's a daily occurrence. I have lost count of the amount of times I've been told to smile by a passing man I did not know; the amount of times men have yelled outrageous, lewd comments to me as I walked by; the amount of times men have followed me for blocks, tried to touch me without my consent, cornered me against a wall, made me afraid to walk alone even in broad daylight simply because I am a woman. Hell, it's not even safe taking a cab home sometimes: I've had a cab driver lock me in his car before in an attempt to intimidate me into giving him my phone number, too. After four years of this, I won't lie, you grow hardened to it. The desire to scrub every inch of your skin to wash away the dirty feeling that comes from being sexualized against your will never goes away, but you stop taking the time to flip them off and tell them off because it just happens too often to keep up with.
I have never met a woman in my life who did not have a catcalling story, and that is unacceptable. Roberts, who attempted to stand up to the men who give themselves the right to catcall women on the street, is already getting rape threats over the video.
All that — and still, Che thought making a joke about a daily horror that women experience was a good way to connect with his fans. Here's the Instagram post, in case you haven't seen it (UPDATE: It seems Che took the photos down, so I swapped in screencaps of the offending posts):
There is so much "UGH" here I want to scream. Does Che think he's being funny? Does he think that a reality every woman has to go through on a daily basis is there for him to make fun of, similar to the way he clearly thinks women trying to go about their day are there simply for his visual stimulation?
I think Jessica Williams said it best in her rant on The Daily Show (a show that Che himself used to work for! He should know better!) that absolutely destroyed the "nice" catcalling that Che himself is referring to:
Unfortunately, Che only gets worse from there:
Nope, I think we got that. It was basically you trying to demonstrate what a clueless human being you are.
And, because no one had the sense to take social media away from Che, it still gets worse:
You know what the most ironic thing about this dumb little statement is? He's trying to make a point that he can say what he wants, because though he is famous, he's entitled to his own opinions, and is not there to perpetually entertain the masses. Seems a little similar to, say, I don't know — women walking down the street trying to go about their day when a man unconsciously decides that she is just there for his personal enjoyment and visual stimulation?
After Che retweeted some of the responses from (rightfully) outraged Twitter users, he followed up with this post swiftly trying to change the subject (simultaneously proving he learned nothing from his experience at all):
What is it going to take for everyone to understand what a nightmare having to experience unwelcome comments and catcalls on a daily basis is? Because, seriously: