The Real Issue With Catcalling

Objectification: that uneasiness when an ill-mannered man rolls down his windows and shouts something sexual about my appearance as I try to cross the street is something that I, and almost every woman, have felt before. Objectification is the first and most crucial aspect we raise our voices to in regards to catcalling, because yes, it is an apparent issue.

However, in my personal experience, I find that although feeling objectified is something I get angry over when catcalled, it is not included in my first wave of thoughts during the experience. In fact, the first concern that rises in my head when a man catcalls me solely regards my safety.

It’s one thing when someone drives by quickly while shouting something degrading towards me because of my gender, but it’s a completely different story when someone pulls up to the curb and drives slowly as they roll down the window and ask me how I am doing and inspect me from head to toe.

Or when I am walking in the city and a random man starts walking next to me, attempting to start a conversation I am not interested in partaking in, but persists with his efforts for four entire city blocks. It’s in those moments when I begin to feel unsafe. You may think these interactions seem innocent, and that I am the one at fault for being “closed-off” or “bitchy.”  Call me what you will, because I’d rather be called those names than regret my decision of not being aware when a perpetrator decides to take their actions to the next level.

If someone is socially and mentally inept enough to think that making objectifying comments towards a stranger is considered a "compliment,” then how am I supposed to assume that they are competent enough to know it’s not okay to get out of their car and snatch me? How am I supposed to assume that they are not going to grip my wrist out of anger when I refuse to engage in the one-sided conversation they have pursued for the past four blocks? How does society expect me to have any level of trust regarding my safety when this person has already invaded my social comfort zone?

Some catcallers reveal that the underlying reason why they do what they do is for kicks and giggles. They find their victim’s reactions humorous. Perhaps they find it funny because they think the only thing the person on the other side of the comment feels is objectification, and that no one is being hurt physically. Who cares about feelings to begin with, right? But recreational catcallers, hear me out on this: you are hurting people with those comments more than you think you are. You’re making them feel insecure about their safety, because one too many of us know of someone who has been a victim of sexual assault. You may not mean any harm when commenting on a woman’s butt, yet you are still instilling within her the fear of being sexually assaulted.

Recreational catcallers: if you truly find this to be some kind of legitimate mating call that will one day make the love of your life swoon for you and actually get into your car….it’s never going to happen.