I recently did a few polls over on our Instagram stories about whether people had experienced catcalling, and how it made them feel. I also asked about experiences with sexual harassment, which I will write about in a separate post as I have quite a lot to say on the matter. This post is going to focus specifically on catcalling.
So what is Catcalling?
Also known as street harassment, catcalling is a form of harassment that includes (but is not limited to): wolf – whistles, honking, following, unwanted comments and sexual advances. This typically takes place in public spaces such as streets, shops and transportation.
The earliest memory of being catcalled, that I can remember, was being 12 and walking back from a friends home and having a van of men drive past honking their horn and shouting at me. At the time although I didn’t know the term ‘catcalling’ I knew what they were doing left me conflicted. Should I appreciate the fact that they clearly found me attractive, even if it left me want to run into the nearest house to hide until they were gone?
That wasn’t not the last experience of catcalling I experienced. As the years have gone on I have experienced cars & vans beeping their horns at me, men wolf whistling at me and shouting things like “nice arse/tits”. The list is extensive, and I know that I’m not alone.
I know some people find the attention flattering, and if that applies to you then who am I to tell you otherwise. However, I think we need to look at the masses who find the attention uncomfortable and clearly make some sort of change. For a number of years I would make sure that I never left the house without headphones, for fear of having to listen to men leer over me. I don’t feel it’s a compliment, and it personally leaves me feeling worse about myself rather than better.
More recently I have been out with Grayson, my 2 year old son and have cars beep at me and men whistle at me. It makes me even more angry than before that I can’t be safe from the unwanted attention when I’m with my baby. I don’t want to experience that, and I don’t want Grayson to witness it.
I know people will argue it’s a compliment, and that if you don’t enjoy the attention you’re being overly sensitive. That isn’t the case though, I think if the vast majority is saying this makes me feel uncomfortable and shit then we need to be listening to that.
If you see your friends catcalling, ask them about it. Say “have you considered that she/he/they might not appreciate that” or “how would you feel if your child/sibling/friend came home upset because someone had done what you’ve just done?”.
The more we start to call out the behaviour and pick it apart, hopefully more people will begin to understand there are better ways to do things.
What’s your opinion on catcalling? Do you take it as a compliment, or does it leave you feeling uncomfortable? Let us know in the comments below. Also, check out our reviews and opinions page for more content.