As a woman walking in public, I’ve heard and seen it all – smooch noises, cat-calling, honking cars, whistling, meowing, vulgar movements, the whole shebang, from a simple “hey sexy” to “oh, the things I would do to that ass”. This is not okay.
It’s street harassment and it’s a hushed-up social issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. We experience this so often that it’s become allegedly normal. While this behaviour should be frowned upon and viewed as problematic, it’s usually minimalized with sayings as “boys will be boys” and “try to take it as a compliment”.
But it’s not a compliment. It’s not flattering. There’s a humongous difference between giving a compliment and cat-calling. Sure, I admit it’s no exact science but some old-school straight-thinking really can do wonders. Context and content are key. Allow me to explain.
I believe that telling a friend or a woman at a bar (or a similar setting) that you think that she looks pretty today, without expecting anything more than a thank you in return, is acceptable. However, this is almost never the case. In reality, women hear the most objectifying and dehumanizing things, hypersexualizing us.
Most of the time it’s just gross, leaving women feeling uncomfortable and in the worst-case scenario’s fearing for their safety. Unfortunately, the list of consequences doesn’t stop here. A research of the University of Connecticut in the United States has shown that when a man makes sexist remarks it affects how women view and react to men in general. Simply said, cat-calling give all men a bad name.
Basically, it’s everyone’s problem. Cat-calling bothers women and it affects men poorly, too. And I understand that as a man, if you haven’t experienced this issue yourself, it can be hard to imagine the consequences. So you just got to take it from me. Generally, women don’t care at all what random men think of them. Mind = blown, right?
In my humble opinion women can do something to help end this problem, too. Standing up against street harassment sends the message that you’re not okay with it. Just make sure you’re defensive, not offensive. That’s very, very important! I believe that the more socially unacceptable we make cat-calling, the less men will want to engage in it. If you, doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, see your friends engage in cat-calling, say something about it. Don’t let them think that silence is consent.
Research conducted by Stop Street Harrasment says that almost 1 in 4 women has experienced street harassment by age 12 and nearly 90% by age 19. Men, these women are your sisters, your daughters, your friends, the girl you so proudly call your girlfriend, even your mom. It affects all. My message? Stop street harassment. Do it for your own good karma and do it for them.
Have you experienced street harrasment before? I encourage all to pretty please share your thoughts, stories and tips in the comment section… How have you experienced this issue?