I’m glad the people of the interwebs are engaging in an ongoing conversation about the problematic practice of catcalling and its lasting effect on women from all walks of life, but these talks haven’t dramatically changed, for the better at least, how I feel about the issue, and this is why:
No matter how much women – and some men, too – light up social media to scrutinize it, catcalling is here to stay.
Don’t get me wrong; I applaud women like Feminista Jones, Amanda Seales and Jessica Williams who are visible and vocal about the many, many ways catcalling is degrading and disrespectful, but the fact remains that for every guy who gets the message and chooses to change his behavior, there are tons more who couldn’t care less about perpetuating this ugly, uncomfortable reality.
Ever since I’ve dared to develop curves and cleavage, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of catcalling. As much as naysayers will label the statements spewing from every overly thirsty guy’s mouth as compliments and innocent flirting, I have never appreciated the extra attention, nor have I asked for it. And I won’t ever consider being ogled by complete strangers a compliment.
I’ve gone – and still go – to great lengths to avoid being catcalled:
- Yelling things like “jail bait” to fend off offenders (this dates back to my teens, when grown-ass men old enough to be my daddy thought it was perfectly fine to approach me).
- Dressing down in sweats to stop my appearance from doubling as an open invitation for some creeper to express his sexual desire.
- Activating my resting bitchface.
None of the above courses of action seem to stop the street, store, [insert any other societal setting] harassment, which leads me to believe that catcalling won’t be quashed, at least for the foreseeable future.
Still, I want to know: Why do men continue to think it’s OK to demand attention from women who would like more than anything to just get from point A to point B in peace? You know, without being bothered??
As Seales so eloquently put it:
“It’s not because of etiquette. It’s not because of civility. No. At the core it’s because even with our voting rights and careers, women are still heavily marginalized and suppressed in many ways.”
It’s really frustrating when something so serious as street harassment is watered down to simple “compliments” and flirting, when in the most extreme cases a woman can lose her life for rejecting a man’s advances.
But I’m hoping I’ll be around to see the day that a woman will no longer have to think twice about what she wears and where she walks, all for the sake of dodging some disrespectful douchebags.
In the meantime, in between time, I’ll rewatch Williams’ hilarious – and, sadly, accurate – catcalling segment from The Daily Show, “Jessica’s Feminized Atmosphere.”