Any woman who’s ever had to deal with catcalling will be familiar with the sense of dread that looms over us when deciding how to emerge unscathed from unwanted advances. We often ask ourselves: will a polite “no, thanks” prevent him from calling me a bitch, or attacking me? Will he test the fake number I’ve given him before I’ve had a chance to get away? But as is so often the case, our fate – as to whether or not incidents like these will lead to physical danger – can often rest in the hands of unreasonable men. Men who, well aware of the power their words can wield over women, often use them to humiliate, upset or intimidate anyone who dares not be charmed by their chat-up lines. And, it seems, there’s a whole market dedicated to providing men with the tools to do so.
Yesterday, a book called Cheeky Chat-Up Lines received widespread criticism on social media, after a woman who purchased the book at Scribbler pointed out a particularly disturbing section of the book called “Plain Creepy: When does it stop being a chat-up line and start becoming a threat?” The section includes lines like: “I run faster horny than you do scared,” and “Roses are red, violets are blue, I have a gun, get in the car.” Rightfully calling out the irresponsibility of presenting the featured remarks as comedic, Emma Seymour tweeted:
Other people on Twitter soon chimed in with their own thoughts, with one user questioning how it was even published in the first place, and another asking: “Is it a rape manual?”
The fact that this was published and widely distributed in the first place demonstrates a wider issue at hand
Following her complaint last month the publisher, Allsorted, apologised for “offensive content” and promised to remove “the offensive line” in further editions of the book, although it remains to be seen which line exactly Allsorted deem to be the offensive one – pretty much all of the lines in the section are problematic. Meanwhile, greetings-card retailer Scribbler vowed to stop selling it in their shops after considering Seymour’s complaint.
While it’s encouraging that this public calling out of rape culture has had an impact on the book’s harmful messages, the fact that this was published and widely distributed in the first place demonstrates a wider issue at hand.
“Trying to get them to remove all lines, but one step at a time!” said Seymour in response to the publisher’s decision. And yes, some semblance of cooperation on the part of the publishers may be positive, but wouldn’t it be nice if – for once – women didn’t have to battle for the bare minimum in regards to a healthy promotion of attitudes towards us.