Okay, so I’m sure most of us are familiar with catcalling - a noise or comment of a sexual nature made to a passerby. Maybe some of us have been catcalled or have catcalled at others. It is so prevalent in our society that just about every woman I have ever spoken to has had some experience with catcalling. Now, I know a lot of people, namely those who were never on the receiving end of catcalling, do not get why people are so pissed about it. It is just a complement, right?
Well, last time I checked, complements are meant to make the other person feel good. According to the masses of women who speak out against catcalling, are made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable by it, or take the long way to work to avoid catcallers, they don’t make people feel good. Realistically, catcalling only makes the catcaller feel good. They get a feeling of power from it - of virility and of control.
Don’t quite believe me? Well here is the deal, in a world where men are not socially dominant over women and masculinity did not reject the feminine as weak, catcalling would not even happen, mind=blown. Catcalling fundamentally is taking ownership of someone else’s body. It is reducing a person to just their individual parts, all existing in that moment for your viewing pleasure. Now how is that a complement again?
Catcalling falls into the larger category of rape culture. Women by and large - in the media, on TV, in movies, ads, etc - are objectified. So much so, that scientific studies have found that both men and women’s brains lit up as if they were seeing objects when they looked at women, while their brains lit up as if they were seeing people when they looked at men. When people are dehumanized, rape isn’t that far-fetched of an outcome. The statistics in the US now are 1 in every 5 women are sexually assaulted/raped and 1 in every 9 men. I don’t even have to write how absolutely horrifying those numbers are.
So why are men so surprised when women say they feel scared or uncomfortable when someone points out their boob size or tells them to smile or follows them down the street on their walk home? To get to the truth of catcalling, all you need to do is look at the people who are actively defending it. Who are the people getting defensive over their right to catcall and what does that say about privilege/ who catcalling really benefits (let me give you a hint, it’s not women).
I'm a bi female undergraduate student majoring in Psychology, with minors in Women and Gender Studies and African American Studies. I am passionate about issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and intend to get my masters in social work in order to serve those populations.