Catcalling is a topic tends to come up periodically and just take over. Throughout my life it has been a major subject sometimes and an underlying issue all the time. Catcalling is something that happens to all women all the time. If you are someone who walks down a busy street with any sort of regularity it happens to you or has happened to you. It may be happening to you right now.
Sometimes when someone catcalls me I get pissed off. I say, “Fuck you!” before I keep walking. Sometimes when someone catcalls me it feels non-threatening and I smile just to move on or I laugh and keep on going. Sometimes someone catcalls me and I barely even notice it because it’s just an interaction that seems normal. I mean it happens every day so that’s normal, right?
Oh wait, no, of course not. The topic came up last night out to dinner with three other women. The discussion involved sharing catcalling and other forms of random stranger harassment. It’s a topic that has come up a lot recently and I had laughed it off and commiserated about it without actually sharing in the frustration or feeling angry. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized it was because I had accepted it. This may be in part because here in Austin I have experienced catcalling a lot less than when in say, Italy or Greece (where I got in a yelling match with a guy on the street), or it may be in part because as a teenager and college student I spent so much effort trying to be sexualized. As a young person I lacked all the things you want a young woman to have: self-confidence, wise decision making skills, and the knowledge that male attention won’t make you less lonely. So when a man yelled something obscene, I would think one point for me! You’ve seen this too I know. Teenage girls are walking down a street and a man says, “Hey, sweet tits” or “Nice ass” and even if one girl replies “Fuck you” they’re all giggles and pride. Why, why, a thousand times, why?!
When I realized that I had accepted this as a part of my life, it made me angry. How can I talk about the progress of women when I accept that men will harass me on the street? Why am I letting anyone think (including myself) that this is okay? I don’t like being creeped out when I take a walk. I don’t like feeling unsafe when I pass a man who wants to give me “compliments”. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
Daily Show agrees:
For another (more) interesting check out Catcalled NYC for the stories of 11 women who documented each time they were harassed for a week.
Here’s to changing attitudes! For men and women both.