Compliment or Catcall?

Catcalling is defined as a whistle, shout, or a sexual move/comment towards a person (especially a woman) walking by in public. This atrocious remark (or noise) is often structured in a way that makes it seem like a compliment. Well, at least this may seem to be the case to the one who isn’t receiving it. The comment generally says something about the woman’s physical appearance: “Nice legs!” or, “Hey, sexy!”,  objectifying women as walking sexual objects. What is the goal here? Why do men do it? Women’s bodies are not public property awaiting validation from men.

The idea that women should appreciate catcalling implies that it is done with respect. It indicates that when a guy sees a girl walking down the street and shouts something at her about her body, he’s doing so because he thinks it will make her day better. This theory is laughable! Guys catcall because they think it will somehow lead to them getting attention or having sex. This is disrespectful, and it continues even though many girls complain about it. If it were meant to respect women, then men would, naturally, also respect women’s views on this practice; it would stop.

I’m not saying that girls who enjoy getting catcalled are wrong or have low self-esteem. Some people are rightfully proud of their looks and enjoy the attention. Although, it is important that they shouldn’t trick themselves into thinking that the catcall means something that it doesn’t.

People, if you actually genuinely want to get the attention of a woman walking down the street, perhaps you could try this: catch up to her, and in a polite non-threatening or creepy way tell her, “I’m sorry to disturb you, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are and I’d love the opportunity to get to know you. Would you like to get a coffee with me someday?”

The hashtag #FirstTimeIWasCatcalled is proof that some experiences are universal. Alanna Vagianos, Women’s Editor for The Huffington Post, wrote about her first time being catcalled in this article when she was 16, and almost 10 years later, she still remembers that day, what she was wearing, and the shame she felt.

The stories shared by the women using this hashtag on Twitter, and the story of feminist actress Rowan Blanchard, show us that this distasteful experience is all too common for women. Emotional damage can be done at a young age; innocence can be lost.

Issues like catcalling, dress code and sexism are sometimes regarded as topics that are not the most important when compared to others. People who write about them are deemed to be overly sensitive, and that is frustrating. Why don’t people understand the importance of these topics? Maybe they don’t know about how girls have learned, by instinct or trial and error, how to minimize an uncomfortable situation.

We have all ignored or laughed off an offensive or inappropriate comment. Maybe people don’t know that we have had to brush off adult men staring at our breasts at a young age. Maybe they don’t know that we pretend not to notice. We suppress our anger and fear, as we would rather not deal with confrontation so often. We don’t talk about it everyday, or name it. We don’t even consider that other girls are doing the same thing – mastering the art of acquiescing.

Women can ignore catcalling and mostly don’t react, as that will only serve to satisfy the person calling for attention and just be a waste of time. But they still hear it. Catcalling is a demeaning manipulative act, as not only are women being objectified and stared at; but comments are being yelled at them about the way they look. Do people think this practice is really increasing women’s self-esteem?

Here’s an interesting video that debates this issue of Catcalling…

What do you think? Compliment or Catcall?


3 thoughts on “Compliment or Catcall?

  1. Hey, I really love your articles. Your writing style is really unique. I personally have never really thought in depth of cat-calling as a compliment. I’ve always seen it as a way as “over the top” or just corky, egoistic guys trying to hit on a girl. I think it’s alright I guess to think of it as a compliment but I do think that this means the catcall has to come from their sincere parts of their hearts…

  2. Thanks Abbie:) I don’t think people really do think about this so much, so I am glad it invoked your thoughts. In some ways it is like that. It also depends on how it is structured and the intentions with it.

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