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Catcalling: Does It Objectify Us Or Uplift Us?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

“That ASS!” shouted a middle-aged man from a stoplight, as he watched me walk along the crosswalk separating me from campus. Just an average Tuesday, I wore one of my baggier “for-class” T-shirts with gray workout leggings. I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed among the five guys also crossing the street, and thought, “I shouldn’t have worn these pants.”

Catcalling is a hard concept to understand. It’s difficult to accept that we, women, have to adapt certain mentalities to combat catcalling. In order for this article to make sense, it’s important for me to say that catcalling is, flatly, a flaw within the men who do catcall. The cause of catcalling will always be a mystery, as I can’t possibly imagine that the one guy who shouted his entire phone number at me from his car actually thought something would come out of it.

Recently, though, I’ve been paying more attention to the effects of catcalling, rather than the mysterious cause. I always assumed that all girls feel the same shame that I feel when I get catcalled, but, apparently, catcalling also disguises itself as an ego-boost for some women.

Whether a woman is having a bad day, or she doesn’t like her outfit, or she feels unattractive that day, catcalling may easily register as a pick-me-up compliment. And, in essence, that’s basically what men think catcalling is; some men genuinely believe women should feel complimented and almost honored when they are catcalled. They also, though, completely oversee how objectifying and demeaning catcalling can be. (So, the mystery continues.)

Now, obviously, I know all women are different and I think that being so different is a positive thing. But, I do have big issues with both the fact that some of us almost take on blame when we are catcalled (i.e. feeling like if we hadn’t worn something we wouldn’t have gotten catcalled), as well as the fact that some women find value in being catcalled (i.e. thinking, “oh well, I guess I don’t look that bad!” when we are catcalled).  

We are more than just an ass or a pair of boobs. We are more than those days when we don’t feel confident or our best. Our self-confidence should come from within and not from what we wear. Our worth should be built by us and not by the compliments or opinions of others. Because of all of this, women should never be affected by the unnecessary and, honestly, unacceptable hollers of random (and creepy) guys on the street.

Women who, like me, feel ashamed when they get catcalled, as well as women who feel complimented, can’t allow men to have this control over how we feel when we’re simply crossing the street trying to get to class on time. We can’t feel ashamed in our clothing or in our bodies because of catcalling just as we can’t feel validated in our clothing or in our bodies because of catcalling. Worth and confidence should rise within us without the influence of men, through catcalling or any other way.


Image from: abcnews.com