On Creeps and Catcalling

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.”

8 thoughts on “On Creeps and Catcalling

  1. Myra says:

    Awesome post! I however think a simple “Good Morning Beautiful” from a stranger is fine, the problem is the guys with blatant disrespect and the objectifying of women. Thanks for continuing this much needed conversation.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post! I agree that a simple greeting is fine, but oftentimes when I reply with a simple greeting — just to be polite — most men take that as an invitation to try and pursue me instead of letting me go about my business in peace.

  2. Rick says:

    Well thought out post! I have been waiting on a topic of such, so I can give my two cents from a man’s perspective.. I agree woman should be able to get from point A to B without being disrespected.. But it’s a couple of factors that play a vital role in this “CATCALLING” thing. First off let’s be real here.. MOST women enjoy the attention they receive from men because it makes them feel good about themselves. . If a man never complimented a woman she would feel if something about her was wrong or she doesn’t look beautiful. Second I feel like its coded in our DNA by the media what is beautiful and what’s not.. All we see is small waist, nice ass in some tight clothes with a little make-up on and long fake hair.. So when we see something in person like that we try hard to give compliments and do whatever we can to get a good response back.. But anyway just a woman saying thank you then keeping it moving would be just as fine to a man without conflict..
    Great Post Tho!

    • A guy doing whatever he can “to get a good response” from a woman, including shouting disrespectful phrases and using other tactics, including invading her space to demand her attention, is NOT a compliment. It’s also unrealistic and unfair to even expect a good response from a woman when a guy is disrupting her peace because he believes it’s her job to be open and ready to hear whatever he has to say at any given time, despite the fact that he’s a complete stranger. Also, in my experience even replying “thank you” to a guy makes him think he has the green light to continue his unwanted imposition. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  3. Linda says:

    Very interesting post. You make some very valid points. I hope this topic stays in the forefront until there is a visible change made in societal views…

  4. Great post! I do think the catcalling video was a little extreme… but it’s true we should be able to get from point A to point B without hearing obscenities shouted out at us.

    • Thanks so much for reading, Yetti! First, let me just say how much I LOVE your blog. But yes, catcalling is beyond annoying. Sometimes I avoid running errands just to get some peace.

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