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Life > Experiences

Why is Catcalling Problematic?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bradley U chapter.

Catcalling is behavior which can be experienced by both men and women, and it is quite problematic for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is a relatively negative experience for those being catcalled. The thought process behind catcalling is extremely concerning. Aside from these reasons, it is a disrespectful habit that perpetuates other disrespectful habits.

Now, I am speaking from my individual experiences in this article, but I know this is a very widespread problem for others as well (especially on college campuses). As I mentioned before, this behavior is not a positive one for those affected by it. It is borderline harmful in many cases. This behavior could be considered harmful mainly because the manner of communication involved. Catcalling is defined as yelling or making a statement of a sexual nature at a passing woman. So going off of this definition, we can gain an understanding that catcalling is almost always sexually motivated. Because there are two parties involved, situations of a sexual nature should always include clear consent. Without consent, the nonconsensual party is typically left feeling vulnerable and threatened. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that every time I have been catcalled, I have felt unsafe and/or threatened. The intent of validating or complimenting a woman through this action is not at all understood.

The ideology behind catcalling is problematic because it emulates a predatory mindset. To put it in basic terms, those who catcall feel that their behavior deserves respect, regardless of its outcome. This leads one to believe they are justified in their actions, and most times if those being catcalled don’t respond in a positive way, they are then insulted, belittled, or even harmed. Of course, it is hard to predict the thought process of others, so I could be wrong with these assumptions. With this being said, all of the assumptions made here do align with my own experiences.

Catcalling is not only problematic because of its manner, but also because of what it can lead to. There are instances in which people have been physically harmed as a result of not responding “properly” to being catcalled. I have not ever been physically harmed for ignoring or responding negatively to being catcalled; however, I have been insulted or yelled at in a much more aggressive manner than the original comment. This behavior continues within our society because there is no penalty for these actions, besides a potentially bruised ego.

The only advice that I can offer anyone who has experienced this behavior is as follows: it’s best not to respond to the person catcalling you, try to walk in groups when you can, carrying pepper spray is never a bad idea, please try to walk on well-lit and populated streets, and avoid walking in places you are unfamiliar with. Stay safe y’all! :)

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Grace Oatman

Bradley U '25

I am a Freshman Psychology major at Bradley University. I hope to be a Pediatric Psychologist. In my time with Her Campus I would like to write about mental health in our society, as it is something I am passionate about. I also do enjoy a good entertainment piece and intend to write plenty of them too. I also currently write for our twitter page; insert self-promo here: @HCBradleyU. That's all for now though. – g:)