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Now that we’ve finished fawning over Satah Cameron‘s epic ode to street harassers (above), let’s take a look at how other popular songs about street harassment stack up. From Queen Latifah‘s “U.N.I.T.Y.” to Sporty Thievz‘ “No Pigeons,” below are six other takes on the phenomenon of harassing women in public. Thanks to Stop Street Harassment‘s list of positive songs about street harassment for some of these tracks.
Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.”
One day I was walking down the block I had my cutoff shorts on right, cause it was crazy hot I walked past these dudes when they passed me One of ’em felt my booty, he was nasty I turned around red, somebody was catching the wrath Then the little one said “Yeah, me bitch” and laughed Since he was with his boys he tried to break fly “Huh.” I punched him dead in his eye and said “Who you calling a bitch?”
The good: Sometimes a physical response is necessary to combat a sexual assault. The song goes on to emphasize unity between men and women and address other forms of assault, from intimate partner violence to violence between women.
The bad: I can’t think of anything sour to say about Latifah. Who are you calling a bitch?
TLC‘s “No Scrubs”
I don’t want no scrub A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me Hangin’ out the passenger side Of his best friend’s ride Tryin’ to holla at me
The good: “No Scrubs” became a club anthem that a women to express their displeasure with men who hang outside of car windows in pursuit of some drive-by sexual harassment.
The bad: Unfortunately, the song goes on to conflate street harassment with guys who don’t have cars, live with their parents, and look “like trash.” It takes all kinds, TLC.
Hey baby, baby Whatcha want, you’re calling me Dumb standing around the lunch truck so greedily
Hey baby, baby Just another dog I see Rolling in the dirt you’re barking up the wrong tree
So maybe you’re crazy Never get a bone Ooh, you’re just too much man for me Yeah maybe you’re crazy
. . . Hey baby, baby Whatcha want, you’re stalking me Bang bang your hammer Caveman sensibilities
The good: Beyond rejecting the titular form of harassment, “Cat-calling” preemptively knocks down harassers’ retorts to your displeasure. You aren’t “just too much man” for us.
The bad: The song restricts its vitriol for guys who hang out around lunch trucks or on construction sites, letting more privileged harassers off the hook. Also, calling men “crazy” (ugh) and comparing them to cavemen and dogs may actually just help to obscure how normalized street harassment is in our society. Don’t bring dogs in to this.
Gwen Stefani‘s “Hollaback Girl”
A few times I’ve been around that track So it’s not just gonna happen like that ‘Cause I ain’t no Hollaback Girl I ain’t no Hollaback Girl
. . . I heard that you were talking shit And you didn’t think that I would hear it People hear you talking like that Getting everybody fired up So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out That’s right, put your pom-poms down.
The good: In Internet gender activism parlance, a “Hollaback girl” might signify someone who’s committed to fighting back against street harassment. Stefani’s song uses the idea of “hollering back” to opposite effect: On the track, a “Hollaback girl” is a woman who buckles to the whims of any guy who hollers at her. Here, Stefani’s not that kind of girl, and that’s her shit.
The bad: According to Wikipedia, the song was actually written about cattiness, not cat-calling: It’s “a response to Courtney Love‘s statement that Stefani was a ‘cheerleader’ in an interview with Seventeen magazine.” So, Stefani writes a song about how she’s so above talking shit about other women by . . . writing a song talking shit about other women? What?Too bad, because No Doubt‘s “Just a Girl” offers a more legit take on street harassment: “The moment that I step outside / So many reasons for me to run and hide . . . I’m just a girl / Guess I’m some kind of freak / ‘Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes.”
3OH!3 ft. Katy Perry‘s “Starstrukk.”
Nice legs, Daisy Dukes Makes a man go [whistle] That’s the way they all come through Like [whistle, whistle] Low-cut, see-through shirts That make you [whistle] That’s the way she come through Like [whistle, whistle]
. . . Tight jeans, Double D’s makin’ me go [whistle] All the people on the street know [whistle, whistle] Iced-out, lit-up, make the kids go [whistle] All the people on the street know [whistle, whistle]
The good: Let’s see: This is a song about how the clothes women wear incite men to whistle at them. Later, Katy Perry steps in to clarify that she dresses this way just “to set them up / to knock them down.” She’s askin’ for it, am I right? But perhaps the song can function as a helpful real-life example of the way street harassers treat women, and the way women like Perry cooperate to perpetuate that behavior and turn the blame back on ourselves.
The bad: See “The good.”
Sporty Thievz‘ “No Pigeons”
A Pigeon is a girl who be walkin’ by My rimmed up blue, brand new sparklin’ five Her feet hurt so you know she want a ride But she frontin’ like she can’t say hi. What?
. . . In the front of the club I see this girl like, “Yo love” Thought she said thug but she called me a scrub Scrub? What? She musta talk me a joke Broke Pigeonhead freak, you lucky I spoke.
The good: “No Pigeons” provides the scrub’s perspective on “No Scrubs.” Uh . . . it’s great to remind ourselves of the street harasser’s perspective on street harassment, in case you haven’t heard one screaming at you on the street lately.
The bad: While “No Scrubs” faulted men for pursuing women who were obviously uninterested in them, “No Pigeons” faults all women for not wanting to fuck Sporty Thievz. It’s reverse sexism!