Today, the “Hate Reader of Record” (aka the New York Post) published an awful, awful article titled, “Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with it.”
So the basic premise of the piece is that objectifying shouts from strangers on the street are an important form of validation for women who would otherwise be stuck insecurely wondering if they meet the sexual specifications of a random construction worker. Uh, okay. As if the premise isn’t bad enough, the author includes an offensive hypothesis for the genesis of catcalling:
“I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention.”
Yeah. I’m just gonna leave that one there. (Although I always figured Post columnists thought aliens built the pyramids).
For men possessing a proclivity toward yelling at strangers, it’s a dangerous validation of these unwanted advances (In one of those “we-all-know-this-but-thank-you-for-saying-it” articles, Boston.com’s Hilary Sargent has an excellent piece outlining the many many reasons you shouldn’t catcall women).
For people who aren’t idiots, however, the piece is a classic “hate-read,” that oddly satisfying genre of Internet dreck; satisfying, perhaps, because by reading something so outrageously wrong, it reinforces our sense of what’s right, which is a nice feeling to have in a world where everything has gone mad, and the convictions we thought we held are constantly brought into question.
Of course the Post knows people will hate it. The driving maxim of the Internet has become, “If you can’t say something nice, say something terrible, then bathe your stinking soul in pageviews and Google juice.”
But while we can’t do much about halting pageviews to the worst the Internet has to offer, one site is at least trying to cut off the Google juice, or search potential. It’s called “Do Not Link,” and it assigns a special URL to a story in such a way that when you use that customized link, it won’t improve the page’s search ranking. (Google measures search relevance based on the number of inbound links a page receives).
The service has been around for a while, but it was everywhere today after Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten used it to link to the catcall story on Twitter.
I’m still of a mind to not link to hate reads unless absolutely necessary (quoting or posting screenshots to Twitter is my chosen workaround). But if you simply cannot help yourself, make sure you use “Do Not Link” when you share it on Facebook or Twitter. The story may still rack up loads of pageviews during the 24-hour hate cycle, but at least its search ranking will suffer, protecting future generations from the scourge of terrible Internet content.