Catcalling and Sexual Harassment on Social Media: How It Can Be Stopped

The world that we live in is constantly changing and evolving, and this is not always for the better. Unfortunately, catcalling does not end on the streets, as this harassment now extends into social media due to the increased presence of social platforms in our everyday lives.

Catcalling is the objectification of somebody, and in frequent cases, this tends to be the objectification of women by men. Furthermore, catcalling can be derived from the sexist idea that if a women dresses a certain way, they are seeking out male attention. The false equivalence between how a woman dresses and the obscenities she receives needs to be dismantled. If I wear a dress that might be considered revealing, this does not mean I am desperate for male attention from all men. It could just mean I want to wear a dress because I think it is cute. In addition, I could want attention from one man, but that does not mean other men should assume I want attention from them.

I was thirteen when I first received a sexualized message from a male stranger on Facebook. This type of catcalling online is essentially the same as traditional catcalling, just through a different platform. Overall, my appearance should not warrant these unwanted obscenities from complete strangers. In the past year, I have received close to a hundred of these unwanted personal messages on Facebook and Instagram. One of the most frustrating aspects of these messages is the lack of response and help from social media platforms. It is really irritating that the response I receive from the employers of these platforms tends to be: this message did not violate any of our standards. I don’t find it fair that while I and others have to put both physical and emotional effort into blocking people and deleting messages, we get dismissed. The other frustrating part is what precedes these messages; after I comment or reply to a public post, these messages normally follow. I want to live in a world where I can tag my friends in the comments of an adorable puppy video without having a guy message that he wants to marry me, comment on my physical features, or build me a house.

Fortunately, there are potential solutions to this all too common problem. Here are some of my ideas:

  1. Facebook could implement more serious measures to fight sexual harassment on its website. Mark Zuckerberg should put his users safety first and foremost. 
  2. Men can stop catcalling, although until society changes as a whole, this is likely to take time.
  3. As a society, we need to work to further campaign against the objectification of women and highlight how omnipresent this issue is.


The screenshots are the author's own.  Featured image is obtained with permission from: