Cat calls not respectable, acceptable

Cat calls not respectable, acceptable: Women should not be graded like livestock or a meal

Smack.

He hurled the dirty words at me out of the passenger side window of his best friend’s beat up tan minivan, a boy I’d never seen before, words I can’t include here.

Slap.

As they pulled up to the stop sign on 10th and Division, the driver turned around in his seat and yelled something unintelligible about my ass to his friends in the back.

Whack.

More obscenities about my body flew out of the sunroof, directed at me again, as the boys squealed their tires and hightailed it down the block. It seemed they couldn’t leave the scene of the crime, now covered in shame, soon enough.

But it wasn’t them who were ashamed. They didn’t feel dirty for what they had said, or wrong for treating me as if I were nothing more than a piece of meat. No, the guilt and the embarrassment and the shame were mine.

I finished my trek down the street, dragged my body that was no longer my own into my car, and dissolved into a puddle of nothing. The very same nothing I had been in their eyes.

This was the first of my catcalling experiences. It happened directly in front of the high school at 4:13 on a Tuesday afternoon. I was only 14. I could list all of my verbal harassment stories here, but there are more obscenities, mean boys and men, and nasty words than I care to remember or recount at this point. And frankly, I’m sick of this disgusting phenomena.

There are a multitude of reasons why catcalling, otherwise known as street harassment, should not be tolerated by our society today. From the disrespectful nature of the words to the entitled mentality behind the abuse, catcalling is inappropriate in all cases and needs to stop.

It’s not the woman’s fault: One common catcall that some may not see as obscene or degrading is when a man tells a woman to smile. (Ex. “Smile for me, gorgeous;” “Oh a pretty girl like you’s gotta have a pretty smile”) However, this leaves women in a bit of a predicament: if they comply, they just obeyed the stranger’s order. If they don’t, they are often further berated for being a bitch. If a woman wants to smile, that’s her choice. Women should not be expected to walk around smiling like ditzes just because some men think we should. Women should not be told that they need to smile for others, nor should they be cut down for doing exercising their right not to.

It’s degrading: Another common aspect of catcalling is the wolf whistle. As a woman walks by you, letting out an obnoxiously loud, or even under the breath, whistle is not OK. Humans whistle at dogs, farm animals and great plays in various sports arenas and stadiums. A woman is not a great play, nor is she an animal. (Not even a female dog.) Don’t treat her as anything but a human being. This goes for all catcalls. Making gross comments to a woman about her body is not OK. Farmers comment on the bodies of stock animals that they are looking to butcher. A woman is not livestock, nor is she a meal. Treat her like a human being.

It’s not at all flattering: Some people defend catcalling by saying that it’s simply a compliment, that a woman should be flattered that someone saw her body and reacted to it in such a “positive” way. Newsflash: catcalling is not at all complimentary. Some random woman’s ass is not yours to comment on. If you want to give her a compliment, great. Approach her politely, introduce yourself, and tell her she looks beautiful. That is a compliment. Whistling as she passes by or telling her she has a fat ass is not.

It’s embarrassing: Being catcalled makes many women feel dirty, or even as though they did something wrong. A woman is entitled to her hips, chest, behind and everything in between. No one else is. Especially not strange men on the street. When we get called out in public because of our bodies, we want to hide them. Plus, this situation can even more awkward when it takes place in front of a significant other, a family member or a friend. No one knows what to say or how to respond other than to laugh it off, though both parties feel violated by the nasty words.

It can be scary: When a woman ignores catcalls or denies similar inappropriate advances, the verbal abuse often escalates, and she is quickly labelled a bitch, whore or worse. At times, there is even a perceived threat of physical violence. A woman who defends herself against street harassment should not feel threatened simply for standing up for herself. She should not be followed, further berated or threatened with physical violence. She should be left completely alone.

I can honestly say that I would rather be slapped across the face than catcalled. At least that physical bruise wouldn’t leave me feeling completely violated.

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