The other day, I was walking to the train from my house, minding my own business, on my way to work. I passed the local dry-cleaners, the Irish pub where the locals drink Guinness and watch basketball, and waited for traffic to stop so I could cross the street. By the time I made it to the end of the crosswalk and rounded the corner of the bus stop, I heard it. The catcall. A guy who thinks he’s fly, hangin’ out of the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.
The car wasn’t even nice. It was a beat up, old, brown clunker from the 1970s. Furthermore, this was at 8:30 in the morning on a Wednesday in a residential neighborhood known for its quiet and respectable families and young professionals.
Plus, I was wasn’t even wearing provocative clothing! I had on dress slacks, a Victorian-esque lace shirt up to my neck, and moccasins (don’t judge, the heels come on at the office). I was looking like class and he was looking like trash, and somewhere between the surprise at processing a catcall and dredged up disdain for men everywhere before my morning coffee, I realized that I had broken the fourth wall (or whatever the acoustic counterpart of that is) and had fallen into a TLC song.
All day at work, all I could think about was this pre-commute event and how disgusting men are. Do they think it makes women feel good to be yelled at with lewd phrases, sexualizing them to a walking piece of meat? They can not think this kind of behavior will elicit anything but at least an eye roll and at most an angry bout of man-hating and disillusionment of the notion that women are seen with respect and equality in the 21st century.
Then I started to do a little fishing online (it was slow at work), researching how other women feel about the catcall. Predictable, I found in other blog posts, reader comments, and lifestyle articles on various news sites that most women think the catcall is either vulgar and demeaning or annoying but ignorable. What did surprise me were the comments I saw saying that women feel buoyed up by what they considered male appreciation of their body. Some women think catcalls are flattering. Not that these women would stop and run off with the men doing the catcalling for a date and/or roll in the hay, but some say catcalling puts a smile on their face and makes them feel empowered by their feminine charms.
I respect everyone’s opinion, but I still can’t understand how some women enjoy what I find to be a horrible but inevitable experience. Maybe these women are not getting the same kind of comments I’m getting such as the three examples below:
- “Ooooooo girl, yum, gimme, gimme!” (while banging on the door of the car) – last Wednesday
- “Oh girl, you thick!”- last year
– Thank you for pointing out that I am “thick.” I don’t like to be reminded that I have what my family calls “the Murrin hips.”
- “Hey, you in the black t-shirt! Oh, give me some of that, yeah, unnhh” – Age:16, Location: Washington, DC, Parties Present: MY PARENTS
– Underaged. And, thanks for giving my Mother a heart attack.
All of my catcalls have been made by low-class, sloppy looking cretins. Perhaps if a preppy-looking man in a business suit catcalled me outside of my office, I’d have a better outlook on this male tradition. Yet, it seems like the only kind of men who catcall are the scuzzy undesirables whose comments make women feel less “hot, sexy woman with the power to turn heads” and more “piece of ass that I’d like to fuck.”
Men need to get their act together when they catcall and class it up a bit. A “hey, beautiful” or even a whistle wouldn’t bother me like the trashy sexual comments do. Yes, I can see the other side of the coin. I have turned a few heads while walking by a construction crew on their lunch break while wearing a red dress, and I felt pretty sassy.* Otherwise though, men should expect nothing but derision from the recipients of their remarks. Do men actually think shouting at women from the street is going to work? I’d like to know the success rate of catcalling in getting a woman’s prolonged attention.
So what do you think? Catcalls: flattering or flustering?
And with that, I leave you my inspiration for this post and a piece of classic 90’s awesomeness:
* The stereotype come to life. And yes (because I know you were wondering), the construction workers were hot burly young men. Girls look too; we are just more subtle and classy about how we do it.