Catcalling. It is an unfortunate reality for seemingly every girl or woman, regardless of age, ethnicity, or location...

Catcalling can be defined in many ways, but four of my friends have defined it as “rudely flirting with a stranger,” “someone randomly calling out to get another person's attention because of how they look, in a sexual encounter,”“saying something inappropriate without warning to an unexpecting victim,” or “having random guys walking up to me on the streets telling me pickup lines. Also wolf whistles.”

The first time I was catcalled I believe I was thirteen. I was about two blocks from my house when a man who looked about as old as my father walked up next to me and said the rather stereotypical “hey beautiful.” I remember being very surprised, also a little angry, and said something along the lines of “piss off.” The man sort of smiled and walked away. For the rest of that day, I felt sort of angry and a little violated. I wasn’t used to that kind of attention outside, and I certainly didn’t like it.

Over time, I have developed little methods to combat catcalling. I have perfected my “death stare,”and I spend time thinking of little remarks I could say back to deter them. My friend tells me one of her techniques: once she was on the subway and felt that a man was uncomfortably close to her. She cracked her knuckles, then the joints in her neck, and he moved away. Even with these techniques, catcalling is scary.

Science says that catcalling perpetuates and promotes fear, and it creates feelings of anger or suspicion towards men. A woman catcalled on the street doesn’t know what could happen to her next: the man could just walk away or he could physically harass her. This feeling of being constantly on edge is not healthy, nor does it promote healthy feelings towards men. In a survey done by the Stop Street Harassment organization, it was found that about 99% of women said that they had been harassed at least once in public. This statistic is far, far too high.

But how can we stop cat-calling, or street harassment in general? A very big part of the problem is society’s definition of masculinity, and how a man should be dominant over a woman. This idea of male privilege can distort a man’s views on what he is doing. If more boys and men are educated on how catcalling and street harassment is wrong and scary, perhaps they will do it less.


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