Every new summer that dawns upon us is accompanied by a feeling of excitement and freedom. The kids are off from school, more than ecstatic for summer camp, and their parents are ready to get rid of their children, even if it’s only for a short time. All in all, summer is the most enjoyable season of them all, whether you’re young or old. However, there will always be Grinches and Scrooges who like to ruin other people’s fun. In the case of summertime, this title belongs to the people known as “catcallers."
Catcalling is defined as unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation (Drivers of Change). Most people who are familiar with this grotesque gawking usually assume that the targeted person happens to be female. While the majority of catcalling does involve women, the number of men that experience this in their lifetime is very under-perceived. In fact, 25 percent of all men will experience a situation similar to catcalling at some point in their lifetimes. While this is less than half the rate for women, 65 percent, it is still mind-boggling to think that one in every four men will be sexually harassed, according to Stop Street Harassment.
This issue is so problematic because it is hard to identify any single solution. Making verbal comments or gestures in public is not considered sexual harassment under the law, and there is no one to actually hold the culprits accountable. In workplaces one’s job is held over their head as leverage to ensure a sexual harassment-free environment. In cities like New York no such thing can be accomplished. Unless, of course, someone sets the motion forward.
That is exactly what founder and president Josh Winzelberg and his company, Vodka Mariette, are doing. “Mariette” which means “little rebel” in French is a testament to the innovative way that the company runs. Sticking true to its name, starting on June 15, 2016, Mariette and its distributors are launching a new social action known as the Drivers of Change. They will require all of the truck drivers who deliver their new French spirit to sign an oath to never be engaged in street harassment, or catcalling, of any individual at any time whether on or off duty. Vodka Mariette chose this subsection of their enterprise to spearhead the social movement because they felt like their drivers who were “hired based on their stellar character” finally had a chance to bring that personality to light.
Mariette wanted to make a bold statement with their new program, garnering well-deserved national attention. By bringing the team that is almost always behind the scenes in their venture to the forefront, is almost like a metaphor for the issue they represent. Catcalling is always brushed under the rug in the fight for social justice, much like one never considers the supply chain that brought that bottle of Vodka Mariette to their Memorial Day barbeque. The hope is, that this driver initiative will not only spread across this specific industry but will pierce every facet of society, in the business world and out.