Catcalling: The Bad, The Ugly, and The Solution

Catcalling is far too familiar to women these days, but why?


I have been catcalled on numerous occasions, whether I am pumping gas in my pajamas or am on my way to the gym. Not only is it frightening, but it is also concerning that men find this acceptable. To literally scare women to death is not amusing; it is traumatizing and sets a harsh reality for women of all ages. I have been advised to take self-defense classes and to carry pepper spray, but never have I been advised to confront my harasser for fear of angering them and causing more unwanted advances. 


 I asked women around campus if they had ever been catcalled or had similar experiences to my own. If they had, I asked why catcalling still exists and who is to blame, along with any other comments that they had.  


“Yes; I have been catcalled. The problem is the culture and tradition around it from it being passed from generation to generation through older peers, with society as a whole being to blame.”


“Yes, I have been catcalled throughout my life, from my pre-teen years up until today. It usually happens on busy major streets and it’s usually from men that are in groups and have a quick getaway (i.e., in a car or running by). I think it has been accepted and too many women have been told to not make a big deal about it. Society is to blame because we haven’t moved away from it - men still do it and think it’s fine, women are defenseless and are told it’s “flattering”. Once we can all agree it’s wrong and needs to be stopped, there can be a stigma surrounding it. It’s similar to language choice. If someone uses a word they shouldn’t, we will usually call them out on it. When you see someone catcalling a woman, you should shame the person doing it and explain why it’s demeaning and wrong. Over time, I hope we can move beyond catcalling and treating strangers badly.”


“Yes, I have been catcalled before. Most of the time, it happens in public areas by older men that I do not know. Because it tends to be older men, I believe that those generations still consider it “normal,” while those who are younger usually know that it’s wrong. Toxic masculinity is definitely to blame. When you call out men for catcalling, they use the excuse like “I’m not allowed to compliment you?” or, “you should be flattered.” They think that they did us a favor by catcalling us when in reality, it brings anxiety, fear, and discomfort. I always hear other men telling women to “just say ‘no.’” “Just saying ‘no’” has led women to be verbally attacked, stalked, beaten, and even murdered. The norm should be teaching men to not harass women instead of teaching women to defend themselves. ”


It is time for men to be held accountable for their actions. If they find socially acceptable to shout at women, which it most definitely is not, they should accept the consequences of being reprimanded publicly for their actions. Women deserve better; we should not run from strangers’ words. Instead, we need to face them and make it known that we will no longer accept these “compliments”. If they are uncomfortable about being criticized, one can only hope it changes their perspective on catcalling. 

Please remember to utilize the following resources:

Cook Counseling Center: 540-231-6557

LiveSafe at Virginia Tech

Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley: 540-639-1123

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