What It's Really Like To Be Catcalled

 

 

When I moved from a small town to the big city, I expected lot of big changes! Everyone had warned me to be extra aware of my surroundings. They said to be extra safe, don't go out after dark, and never go out alone because New York City has a reputation for being dangerous and scary. This stigma comes from many years ago when the city was dangerous, however New York City has changed and it is now much safer than it used to be. I walk around NYC alone all the time and I have never felt unsafe or threatened in any way; I have, however, been catcalled many times while walking in the city.

Catcalling is when someone makes a sound or comment of sexual nature to another person passing by. Catcalls are not compliments. It is rude and disgusting to catcall someone. Catcalling someone is a form of sexual assault. It is a problem that needs to be stopped.

Usually when I get catcalled, I am walking with a group of girls. When it happens we all try to ignore it, then we laugh as we walk away. It is not funny but we laugh because it is pathetic and uncomfortable. When I am with a group of girls it feels different than when I am walking alone. When I get catcalled alone, I do my best to be unresponsive and keep to myself. To be catcalled is not particularly threatening, however, it does make me feel targeted and uncomfortable.

So far every time that I have been catcalled, it has come from a man who had some kind of distance between him and me; the majority of catcalls that I have received have come from man or a group of men in a passing car.

I find guys yelling at me out of car windows to be particularly annoying. It is so cowardly and pathetic for someone to verbally assault another person and then drive off. It is like they are running away with their tails tucked between their legs, hoping that they don’t get caught. Every time that I have been catcalled, the perpetrator was quick to disappear after making their disturbing comments. They run off and hide just before high-fiving and joking with other guys who appear to be their friends. I have to stop and wonder why this behavior is celebrated among the guy’s friends. The men know they were in the wrong, otherwise they would not have run off so quickly. So if they know they did something bad, why do they congratulate each other and make jokes about it? Is it maybe for the same reason that when groups of girls get catcalled, they laugh about it as they walk away?

Personally I have only ever been catcalled by men but I’m sure that some women are capable of the same cowardly action. I think that society views catcalling as a man showing some kind of dominance over a women. When a man is catcalled, it is more likely to go unnoticed and perceived differently from society, which is sad because catcalling is an assault no matter who the victim is.

Society perceives catcalling and street harassment to be influenced by race. I do not believe that someone's race makes them more likely to catcall or verbally assault me. I have been catcalled from men of several different races, as well as a variety of ages.

When I get catcalled it usually bothers me for just a moment and then I continue with whatever it is that I am doing and I forget all about it. However one time in particular bothered me more than usual.

I was walking through downtown Manhattan with my three roommates, we were exploring the city and trying out some fun new shops. As we were walking down one of the slower, less crowded streets, a man in an old truck slowed down as he drove by us. This guy appeared to be much older than me, he looked like he was probably in his 50’s. He was a white guy who had a scruffy grey beard and a thick face. When he rolled his window down as he passed us, he looked my friends and I up and down. He then perched his lips and made kissing noises at us.

We tried our best to ignore him and we started to walk a little faster. The man drove off in the other direction. He didn't say a word, just a couple of sounds and a gross look but this particular incident made my skin crawl and made me feel sick to my stomach. I just wish that I knew why he felt the need to target four teenage girls who were just out to enjoy the day. Not that there is any excuse for behaving the way that he did, but I am curious to know what made him do it.

There is no good reason or excuse to catcall anyone. It is assault and it makes people uncomfortable. It is not a compliment! Being catcalled is annoying and disturbing. Trust me, when I am walking through the New York City streets I know I look good and I don't need any rude men in passing cars to comment on it.