Responding to Cat-calls

The other day a few of my professional peers and I were walking past a pub, when a group of men did what every woman dreads…cat-called.

They started with the whistles, then they hey Hey HEY (their volume dramatically increasing due to their agitation that comes with being ignored), and then came the very worst of all…”why don’t you smile”.

The reason why the “smile” comments are the very worst when being cat-called, is that they are basically telling you that you should be smiling through their sexual harassment.

cat·call ˈkatˌkôl/
verb
gerund or present participle: catcalling
make a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.
“they were fired for catcalling at women”

Being cat-called is incredibly humiliating and most times you feel helpless.

Whether you feel helpless because you didn’t have the opportunity to defend yourself as they sped off in a car or because you were scared of what confrontation may bring. I have felt both before.

Cat-calls instill fear in a woman’s mind. It is a form of verbal harassment, and women are left to wonder in fear if it is going to end with just the verbal assault or is the cat-caller’s intentions something more physical.

It further establishes the idea that women are on display for public admiration. It infuriates me when I hear someone defend the action by blaming it on “boys being boys” or saying that they are simply “immature”, or even worse when I am told I should take it as a “compliment”.

It is not an innocent act, nor does the affect of cat-calling end in that moment. Harassment is harassment, and it remains imprinted on the victims mind.

No woman wants to be harassed while walking down the street. We are not on display for one’s admiration or entertainment. We are human, not sex objects.

A resource for bringing cat-calling awareness and prevention to your city! www.ihollaback.org

Check out this NPR special on cat-calling http://www.npr.org/2013/06/15/187745940/fighting-unwanted-cat-calls-one-poster-at-a-time

(photos from google images)

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Author: elementsofhill

Feminist, coffee enthusiast, writer.

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