Man Pays a Horrific Price for Defending His Girlfriend From a Catcaller
The issue of catcalling as a form of street harassment has taken a violent turn—and the latest incident is helping the problem of verbal abuse of women receive the attention it deserves.
That’s the silver lining in the case of a San Francisco man who, after asking a catcaller to stop harassing his girlfriend, was stabbed on the street in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood last week. He hopes that the incident raises awareness that catcalling isn’t as harmless as some people say it is.
“Girls walk down the street every day and have guys saying things to them, and if a girl denies that or shows some sort of aggression toward that, that can bring unwarranted things,” 31-year-old Ben Schwartz told the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to Schwartz, the suspect was directing salacious statements toward his girlfriend, Miyoko Moody, while they were walking home in the early hours of Nov. 15.
“When we tried to get away from the situation and cross the street, we were followed, and the harassment got even more intense,” said Schwartz. “I was scared for me. I was scared for my girlfriend. I told her to stay on one side of the street, and I went to tell him to stop.”
The man then pulled out a blade, stabbed Schwartz nine times, and got away in a car. Police are still looking for the suspect.
Nearly paralyzed, Schwartz sustained a punctured lung and needed 60 stitches. He’s now recovering, and his medical costs are being covered by donations from a GoFundMe campaign his friends started. So far, he’s received more than $30,000.
An anti–street harassment campaign made headlines last month over a video showing a woman get catcalled 108 times over 10 hours in New York City. Some people argued that the clip merely showed typical, harmless interaction.
But catcalling that escalates into violence, like in Schwartz’s case, isn’t rare. Just last week in Seattle, a man swung a beer bottle at a woman who asked him to stop talking to her. Last month in New York, a woman got her throat slashed after refusing to speak to a catcaller.
“I just don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Schwartz said.