DAN.jpg

I'm a 35-year-old, straight, white male. Tonight, I was walking downtown in my city at about 8 PM and I thought I heard someone say something behind me. I turned to see a young Latino kid (my guess is he was 13-years-old). I asked him to repeat himself. He quietly said that I had a nice ass. Of course I'm not interested because I'm not gay and the kid is underage. I did not feel threatened. He wasn't aggressive and I'm significantly older than he is. I know from my friends who are men who are gay and just from my general experience that men who are gay are much more forward with each other when flirting. I still think about this in terms of my own experience though and know that I would never tell a random woman on the street that she has a nice ass. I know you wouldn't tell a woman that she should take a comment like that as a compliment. So what about me? Is this a situation in which the kid was in the wrong, but we should cut him some slack since he is so young and he didn't do anything threatening?

Always See Sensitively

A 13-year-old kid telling a grown ass man he has a nice ass isn't the same thing as a grown ass man telling a woman (or a girl) that she has a nice ass. What that kid did was inappropriate, it was creepy, and it makes you wonder what exactly is going on with that kid. (Abused and prematurely sexualized? No impulse control? Homeless and engaged in survival prostitution? Years older than he looked and a creep? Just fucking with you?) But it wasn't menacing.

Now if you told a random woman on the street that she has a nice ass, ASS, it would be perceived as menacing. I'm reminded of the Guardian's catcalling experiment back in 2014, when Leah Green created a film where she catcalled men. People responded to the film, saying "that subjecting innocent men to sexually aggressive comments made [Green] no better than the men who do that," to which Green responded:

The experiment proves that while, yes, women are sometimes sexually aggressive to men and, yes, men are sometimes objectified by women, it is simply false to say the issue is the same for both genders. When I asked men what sexual harassment they had encountered, the few that had something to offer spoke of "one time, with one woman, 10 years ago." My father, who is a rather handsome chap, only cited a drunk woman on the bus asking him to go home with her about 30 years ago. Women will often be able to give you an example from that week, that day even.

Women are subjected to this kind of harassment constantly and the very real threat of sexual violence colors these interactions and makes women feel unsafe. You were unnerved by that kid's comments, ASS, not threatened.

That said, ASS, it isn't your responsibility to scold this kid. And, really, what could you possibly say in response? Fuck you? Thank you? Run home now? Letting this slide—as icky and awkward as it was—seems the best choice. Because lecturing a kid on catcalling would require you to talk with a 13-year-old about your ass, which, well, could get a little strange/inappropriate/illegal—and might've given the kid what the kid wanted, which was your attention. (Negative attention, sure, but attention nonetheless.)