My recent experiences with catcalling:
I was in Atlantic City with my younger sister and two of her (and my sort of) friends (they’re sixteen..and not an experienced sixteen). We were walking around 9pm on the boardwalk, wearing nothing attractive (we’d been dancing all day), by nothing attractive I mean sweatpants, t shirts, and sweaty hair in high buns. A few drunk high school losers yelled loudly, “Shake those buns bitches.” They yelled it a few times. I was feeling particularly pissed off this night and not at all threatened by these boys so I gave them an absolute death glare to see how they would react, and I didn’t break eye contact. I watched one boy say to his friend “oh shit she heard us.” So I yelled, “what you can’t say it to my face???” To which he replied again, “shake those buns bitches.” I rolled my eyes and went to tell my parents who were with another family a ways back what had happened. When I told them guys were messing with us on the boardwalk, they laughed. I was mortified. I’m not sure what I actually wanted them to do…but it certainly wasn’t that.
This week I’ve been in New York. As you can assume, I’ve had a number of experiences. My most significant experience was the over night when I was walking back to my hotel with my sister around 9:30PM, a man shoving brochures in faces just past time square must’ve been irritated I, (along with EVERYONE ELSE) ignored him and kept walking, when I was about 100 feet away he yelled, “you got a nice phat ass though.” (Yeah I spelled fat with a “p” because I’ve been living in my body long enough to understand that’s what was intended) I tried to brush it off but it really shook me, because he didn’t make kissy noises and call me baby he actually objectified a part of my body LOUDLY in front of 15 tourists and my little sister. Later when I told my Dad what he said, he laughed. His laughter upset my sister more than it upset me, and that’s what bothered me most. She should not have to grow up in the world where this is normal and acceptable behavior.
My problem with cat calling is the extent to which men DO NOT understand why it is so upsetting. (to be clear I am not a hater of men in general at all…I love men…and know many great ones, the problem is one of misunderstanding, not a baseline problem with men) It’s not like my opinion depends intensely on what you say. But catcalling makes me feel vulnerable, degraded, the list goes on…not because of the actual words necessarily, but because it reminds me that for some strange reason our culture teaches boys that for some reason when women walk on the streets they become objects for them to enjoy, and express said enjoyment in whatever way. This is a culture where although we proclaim to be “equal” women are taught from a young age that they have to be extra cautious, dress “appropriately,” and never walk alone at night. I’m not sure how we fix it, but I’m pretty positive it isn’t by ignoring it, and always walking in groups of 4+ wearing a winter coat and snow pants probably isn’t particularly practical.