Catcalling is something I see at least once a week to either myself or friends. It’s something that makes most women feel disrespected, objectified and self-conscious.
From my own experiences e.g. being shouted at from cars, whistled at, mumbled to or shouted at as I’ve walked past, or my personal favorite (it’s literally the worst) stopping in the middle of the pavement, AKA man-spreading. To avoid or get around the man-spread I usually have to walk around them, off the pavement and in to the road. I basically have to risk getting hurt by traffic to avoid contact with a man lol.
I want to make it clear now that not all men do this. Not all men are misogynistic pigs. But there’s a significant pattern that’s hard to ignore when being catcalled, and it’s when groups of boys/men do it. There’s a typical scenario where a group of lads walking past me on their way to the pub/bar/club make comments towards me that I quite often interpret as them showing off to each other. Dare I say it? Lad Culture. One of the many diseases in society. Brilliant.
I speak on behalf of the majority of women that the following phrases/sounds are used the most to grab out attention:
- “Give us a smile darling” or “let’s see a smile” followed by “you’ll look prettier!”
- “Oi she’s fit”
- “Looking good girl”
- “Alright sweetheart! What’s your name then”
- “Corr look at that one”
- “Can I ask you a question”
- Kissing sounds
- The typical drive by, honk and shout at us
I feel like if someone were to ask them “what if that was your girlfriend/sister/mother/aunt/cousin” they might realize it’s disgusting and possibly even think twice about ever doing it again.
When harassment similar to this happens in the workplace, disciplinary actions are taken. But what about in public? Why aren’t we protected? Apart from the obvious reasons like identification and providing the suitable evidence, just how are women meant to be okay with this? Are we supposed to just let men objectify us? To brush it off? Or do we shout back and risk our own safety? I honestly don’t know. Personally I just try to and brush it off. Roll my eyes, shrug, think ‘lol gross’ and move on. But when it really does get to me I have to swallow my anger due to fear and the possibility of them approaching me for responding negatively. Why is it that we should allow these people to get away with making women feel this way? It’s NOT okay and can be quite upsetting to think that women in other countries have it twice as bad.
The only reason I can think of for why men do this is because they want to exercise their ‘power’. They want you to feel as if you’re helpless and that they’re in control. Using my man-spreading example, the guy doing it could see I was confused. He watched me awkwardly step off and back on to the pavement to walk around him. He stood bang in the center of the pavement and perfectly able to move if he wanted. If I had even attempted to stay on the pavement I would’ve had to swerve myself around him, which would’ve most likely lead to him saying something to me or giving him the impression that he could talk to me.
Catcalling really gets to me, and I feel that it’s something secondary schools should educate kids about. I think if I were taught how to deal with this type of harassment and boys were taught from a young age that it’s wrong then maybe it wouldn’t be as common.
My ideal response to a catcall would be “excuse me? WHAT DID YOU SAY? You think that I should smile so that I can look “PRETTIER” for YOU. How about you don’t objectify me. Go and educate yourself, and in the process sort your disgusting personality out. You’re the epitome of filth and I wouldn’t smile at you if my life depended on it.” *pulls out a Judith Butler book and slaps his misogynistic arse in to 2080 where equality (hopefully) exists and anyone is punished severely for disrupting the peace*.
But I guess until then, I feel for you girls. Keep ignoring those comments, whistles and various other sounds that people apparently think is a wonderful way to entice you. Keep safe and trust your instincts. Always remember that no man or woman is better than you. No matter the age, status, wealth, sex or gender. Nobody has that right and we were all “born naked and the rest is drag.”
Xo’s, Kitty Girl