Ever since a video of a woman getting catcalled all over New York City went viral, people on the internet have been debating between whether catcalling is really a destructive expression of misogyny or a flattering dialogue between strangers.
Some defended the men in the video, saying they were chastised for harmless greetings.
The dialogue inspired This Week in Blackness CEO Elon James White to question why, if this behavior is so harmless, or "complimentary," don't men do it with other men.
Thus, the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag was born, meant to shine a light on the hypocrisy of men saying that they're just "saying hi" when they talk to women on the street.
"After the now-infamous video came out last week there was a flood of critiques around the idea that dudes were just greeting women and I found them to be disingenuous at best," White told BuzzFeed News.
Though he found the video "problematic," White said he still felt like the concerns being expressed about catcalling were legitimate: "A woman was just killed for not accepting a man's advances, but we're going to pretend that our right to engage women unsolicited outweighs their right to feel safe? No."
The hashtag took off over the last few days, with people all over the world tweeting things that men should say if they spoke to other men the same way they talk to women.
Many hashtags were spawned out of the catcalling conversation, including #NotJustHello and #ThatsWhatHeSaid, but none pokes fun at the irony quite as well as #DudesGreetingDudes.
The divide in the dialogue, White explained, was largely about "privilege."
"The right to approach women at any point in time no matter where they are is seen as a right by some men," he said. "And some of these dudes lack the most basic form of empathy to understand that our desire or intent doesn't negate what that woman might be going through. Walking to the grocery store or to go pick up your kid shouldn't be a gauntlet that you have to gear up for."
The tweets not only capture the ridiculous way that men will hit on strange women, but how they can quickly turn vindictive if the woman declines to reply — another way that men don't speak to other men when they're just "saying hi."
White also experienced his share of hate from men who didn't agree with his satirical social justice.
"Dudes who were arguing for the right to greet women against their will were very annoyed with me. I've been called all sorts of names, yet nothing as bad as many of the black women that have been doing this work for years," he said, adding that he also got plenty of positive feedback.
"[T]he support for this has been amazing. Every day I'm getting more and more thank-yous from women for simply listening to their concerns and attempting to support them."
"To me this is about basic decency," White added. "And the fact that men don't do this to other men is proof positive that this is a gendered attack, whether the men who do it consider it to be one or not. And we have to speak up to stop it."
Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at email@example.com.
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