Catcalling and Why it’s Total Bullshit

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How does catcalling work?

“Hey sexy! C’mere!” the 21 year old gentleman proclaims, as him and his friend pass by a young woman. Flattered, the damsel walks towards the chariot. The young man steps out, he sweeps the fair maiden off her feet. The young couple embrace each other and fall madly in love. Days later, they are married with 20 children and live happily ever after.

That has never happened.

“Hey sexy! C’mere!” the 21 year old lad howls as him and his mate drive by a young woman. Suddenly struck with a mixture of dread, terror and anger, the young woman ignores the advances and walks on. Enraged by his romantic decline, he tells the young woman to “take a compliment, you bitch!” as he drives away in his boy-racer.

That happens daily. Give or take the boy-racer car.

What’s the big deal? Isn’t it just harmless fun?

Fun for who? Certainly not the person at the receiving end of these ‘compliments’.  These compliments can turn into threatening insults in a matter of seconds if the woman ignores them, or responds in a way that denies the advances. It is not something to be taken lightly. Catcalling and wolf whistling are forms of street harassment. If we normalise this behavior, we send a clear message to people that it is okay. It feeds into the old saying “boys will be boys.” No. Boys will be held accountable for their actions, just like girls are. If something as simple as catcalling is deemed acceptable, where does it end? Groping in a nightclub? “Oh sure, what do you expect? It happens to everyone!” Being followed home? “What do you expect? You were walking alone and it was dark outside.” Being sexually assaulted? “What do you expect? You chose to wear that skirt.”

But just how often does it happen?

All you have to do is type in ‘catcalled’ into twitter to see the most recent and up to date experiences of women from all around the world.

 

So what can you do to end it?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve experienced some form of street harassment. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That intense rage you feel, the anger that bubbles up inside you, the fear that overcomes you, that’s all normal and experienced by hundreds of others every day. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Many community-based initiates have been set up to stop street harassment. If you have the courage and do not feel any real physical threat, you might want to verbally respond back in an equally aggressive way, you could straight out ask what their problem is, or just ignore it and walk on. You can call your friends out on their shit if you see or hear of them catcalling other people. Or if you are someone who catcalls, just take a minute and realise just how uncomfortable you can make someone feel. Chances are your mother, aunt, sister and friends have all been catcalled and felt intimidated and/or threatened. So why would you inflict that on someone else? Women have agency and deserve to feel safe in public spaces.

 

 

 

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A community and youth development student, a socialist, a feminist, a lover of plants, a lover of food, a very small person