When a woman walks down the street wearing something nice, it seems inevitable that someone will pass by her and either whistle or say something like “Hey, baby”. Men are completely okay with hitting on a girl as they walk by them, but women are sick and tired of it.
According to www.stopstreetharassment.org (an organization you should definitely check out), the working definition for street harassment is “unwanted comments, gestures and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression or sexual orientation”.
While street harassment can happen to both men and women, it’s typically directed towards women. It happens when a female is walking to work, class or is going out for the night. There is a stereotype that street harassment mostly occurs at night, but often it will occur in the middle of the day, where she is surrounded by other people. Either way, cat-calling can get dangerous when the person doing the harassing takes it too far. They might follow her or cause a scene, which is how the “never walk alone if you’re female” mantra came about. Frankly, it’s awful that the world has come to that.
People who do the harassing seem to think it’s okay to hit on a woman they don’t even know. They have this perception that because a woman is dressed nicely, she wants the “compliments” and that she is “asking for it”. In reality, when a woman is walking down the street, she is doing exactly that. She doesn’t need the assurance from strangers that she is “sexy” or she “looks good tonight”. Now, it’s okay if you only want to tell someone they look nice. It’s easy to do that politely and walk away. However, once it turns into using pet names, supposed flirting or an unwillingness to leave the person alone, it becomes unacceptable.
Unfortunately, street harassment seems like it will never stop. It’s almost 2016 and men are still believing that women want to be cat called as they pass by. It may take years before people realize that a woman is wearing nice clothes because she wants to, not because she wants the attention. It’s not okay that people think cat-calling is considered a compliment, and honestly, it’s scary for everyone. It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and annoying for the woman who is being harassed, yet the harasser seems to take it in stride.
Street harassment is never okay for anyone, and thankfully people are starting to realize that. However, it is going to take a long time for everyone to change their thoughts about cat-calling. With many women speaking up about street harassment, there is hope in the world that eventually we can walk down the street without hearing a “Hey, beautiful!”