What It's Like To Get Catcalled

When I walk down the street in my new red dress, I do not expect you to “Hey, Baby” me or tell me how my butt looks great when I wear that dress. I looked down as if I am scared you might soon attack me because that’s how I felt when you tried to get my number. You think that your words are compliments, but no. No, they are not. I feel attacked and objectified, even when I'm just walking around in my own neighborhood. I guess this is what makes me a girl. I have to deal with men catcalling me when I try to pass the cafes in my hometown or cross at the traffic light. I do not feel safe. But I know this is wrong, I know I should not feel this way. 

It is like a nightmare. When I walk at night, I have to come prepared with my pepper spray when I walk into the subway in New York City. I have to walk faster when a crowd of men in Jakarta sitting on a bench outside a café yelled at me, “Hey, beautiful girl!” I feel it becomes the norm, especially in the major cities. Living in the suburbs shows me the different atmosphere and internal calmness because you know you are not going to be bothered by the men. In the suburbs, you are less likely to be looked up and down as they try to show you they are “interested.” 

I sometimes wonder: what are those men were thinking? Do they believe that we, women, would feel flattered and instantly want to marry them after they whistle, “You sexy, Mami? Marry me”? Do they think that we will fall into their arms and ask them to date us after hearing, “nice tits”? No. I feel threatened. It is inappropriate. 

It is a threat because I will never know what they can do to me after they try to communicate in a way that makes me uncomfortable. When I am being catcalled, I can't stop thoughts telling me that I have to run, “what are they going to do? Are they going to try to hold my hands until I do what they tell me to do, like to smile more? Are they going to follow me until they learn where I live?” It is a threat because I will never know what someone capable of after they try to “communicate” and “flirt” with me, just because I look great in that new red dress.

I want to walk and see the moonlight, hear the soft wind in the air, cross at the traffic light or a nearby café, while wearing the clothing that I like, in peace. I should not feel attacked, objectified, or threatened by the people around me. The way I dress does not mean I am “asking for it” or inviting men to whistle at me. I do not want to hear a woman tell me that she does not want to wear that lovely skirt that she just bought because she does not want to attract men's attention. If she likes the skirt, she should feel like she can wear it. Sometimes when we wear something, it is not because we want to impress someone, but to feel and look great in that clothing. Should real man catcall? No. It is not a compliment, but rather an objectification of someone's body. It is sexual/street harassment.