A 39-year-old man was knocked unconscious, and ended up being taken to the hospital for treatment, after attempting to push back against a group of men who were catcalling several women on a Philadelphia street this weekend.
According to NBC Philadelphia, the man was in downtown Philadelphia around 2:45 a.m. on Saturday when he noticed a car full of men pull up next to a group of women on the street. After they began taunting and catcalling the women, the man said something to the effect of “hey, watch what you’re saying.” That prompted the men get out and punch the victim in the head. He hit the concrete and fell unconscious.
The man, whose name is not being released, received treatment for his head injuries in the hospital. “This is a tragic, tragic story. Here’s a guy trying to stick up for these girls and he gets victimized,” Philadelphia police captain George Fuchs told NBC.
The incident highlights the fact that it’s not entirely uncommon for street harassment — something that an estimated 65 percent of women have experienced at some point — to turn deadly. Although catcalling is often framed as simply a compliment for the women subject to strangers’ advances, and it’s hard for some people to understand why women wouldn’t enjoy being reminded that they’re attractive, research into the subject has revealed it actually makes victims feel unsafe. The majority of women report feeling “angry, annoyed, disgusted, nervous, and scared” when they’re catcalled, and many of them are concerned it will escalate into something more physically threatening.
There’s a lot of precedent for those concerns. When women reject men’s sexual advances, they’re often met with violence, even when they’re in public. For instance, last year, a 14-year-girl was walking down the street when a man offered her $200 to have sex with him; when she refused, he pulled her by the hair and choked her. Not long after that, a woman was on a run in California when a man pulled up next to her and offered her a ride; when she declined, he hit her multiple times with his car.
Many more stories along these lines are collected on the website “When Women Refuse,” which was launched after Elliott Rodger went on a shooting rampage against “every single blonde slut” who rejected him and sparked a national conversation about gender-based violence.
Street harassment prevention groups encourage men to be part of the solution by speaking up when they see women on the receiving end of unwanted attention. As the incident in Philadelphia illustrates, that can sometimes subject allies to the same type of violence that plagues women.