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“Hey baby!”

“Smile, gorgeous!”

“Give me a piece of that!”

“Oh what I would do…”

Catcalling is damaging to a woman’s psyche. According to Stop Street Harassment, a campaign which helps combat catcalling, “Over 87 percent of women said they were the target of a sexist comment, and about 45 percent said they’ve been a target of a sexist comment in public at least 25 times in their life.” It leaves a woman feeling threatened, embarrassed, insecure and, in some instances, unsafe.


1. The Types

Catcalling can take many forms. It can range from simply calling out on the street, all the way to physical touching in a way that makes the person uncomfortable. It can also take the form of whistling, kissing, hissing and honking car horns. There are many types. The bottom line is that these are all forms of street harassment that you do not have to feel sorry about or have to put up with.

2. Don’t Ignore

When someone is yelling lewd comments the last thing you want to do is ignore it. This allows the harassment to continue on the harasser’s terms. While it may seem that the goal of the harasser is to achieve a response, saying nothing and walking by looking at your feet will not change anything.

3. Language

Kill ‘em with eye contact. Eye contact combined with pointed and confident dialogue is not the vernacular that the harasser is expecting you to use. In fact it’s quite the opposite. A typical reaction may be a hot headed, fiery response. This actually promotes more harassment and feeds the fire. It is completely OK to be angry, but do your best to remain calm when reacting. Control your tone and use assertive body language.

4. Specifics

Look the harasser directly in the eye, and with a firm voice, try one of these:

  • “Do not touch (insert body part here). That is harassment.”
  • “Would you treat your mother or sister like this?”  
  • “Pardon me/Excuse me.”
  • “Stop harassing me/us.”

5. Tell Someone

Many forms of street harassment are illegal. However, staying safe should always be the main concern. After the catcalling occurs, tell someone. Not only will talking about it help with any emotions you may be feeling, but it will also let someone know what is going on.

Most recently, world renowned model Gigi Hadid found herself on the other side of a celebrity prank that was most definitely harassment. An overzealous man approached her from behind whilst she was exiting a show during Milan Fashion Week and picked her up. Within seconds, Hadid laid an elbow and a fist into his face. Fans looked on petrified as he released her and took off. Not long after the incident Hadid tweeted, “I had every right to defend myself.” This statement encouraged other women to defend themselves as well.

Julia is junior attending Emerson College for her bachelor of arts degree in journalism. She is originally from a small town in New Hampshire. She enjoys writing about people and feels that everyone has a story to share with the world even if they don't know it yet. 
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