An Open Letter to Catcallers

“Hey baby”

“Smile for me, pretty”

“Gorgeous, can I get your number?”

“What’re you doin' tonight?”

Dear Catcallers,            

What do you hope to accomplish by screaming this at me, by leaning out of your car window and yelling these words as you speed by, by making obscene gestures at me as I sit mortified in my car? Do you want me to be afraid to go out in public, to make me look over my shoulder even on well-lit streets, to jump when a car slows down by me? If those are your goals, catcallers, congratulations. You did it. You have made me afraid to walk alone at night by myself, afraid of wearing my favorite dress because it might attract the “wrong kind of attention," afraid of walking on the same side of the street as that bar, afraid of walking to the gym in my running shorts.

“But it’s flattering!” You may say. “I wanna let her know she looks good!” There are so many other ways of letting a girl know she looks nice than by screaming “hey baby!” out of your window. It’s not flattering. Whistling at me like I’m a dog who is only worthy of your attention for the five seconds it takes you to walk by me does not make me feel good about myself. If anything, it makes me want to run home to take a long, hot shower.

But I don’t run. For in the moment you’re objectifying me, in the moment you’re reducing me to nothing more than an object for you to ogle, I’m frozen. I can’t do anything other than stare at the ground and wish teleportation was possible, waiting for you to move on. Bystanders stare at me sympathetically, but never intervene for fear of the attention being brought to them. Though these comments never take longer than ten seconds; they feel like a lifetime of silently staring at the ground, defenseless.

I don’t want to feel defenseless anymore. I don’t want your “flattering” comments anymore.

I’ll leave you with one last thought, catcallers: if that was your daughter, your sister, your girlfriend being catcalled; how would you feel? Would you make excuses, say “oh, but it’s flattering?” Or would you be filled with disgust and a white-hot rage at your inability to do anything?


Emily is a part-time coffee addict and a full-time English and Public Relations student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She enjoys all things punny, intersectional feminism, Chrissy Teigen's tweets and considers herself a bagel connoisseur. You can probably find her either listening to the Hamilton soundtrack or binge watching The Office for the thousandth time

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