The last few days we’ve all seen so many people telling women what our response should be to cat calling (what I like to call street harassment.)
Some of it’s been good, some of it not so good and some of it right down damaging.
It’s apparently become a given that women only leave the house for comments, invitations and criticism from men. Because, you know- she clearly isn’t going out because she has somewhere to be.
Firstly, a stranger announcing to a whole street full of people that he would like to fuck you isn’t a compliment. Not only is it the plain and simple objectification of an individual (You’d like to take me home? Is that because of my personality? Oh, I forgot you don’t know me- it’s because you think I put make-up on this morning just for you) but they have no idea if you want these comments or you don’t, and unwanted sexual comments? That’s harassment.
– ‘You’re misconstruing it, it’s a compliment’
A compliment is currently defined as ‘a polite expression of praise or admiration.’ not ‘Hollering at a woman in a public space about how nice her tits are’
-‘I’m a good guy, it’s respectful to reply when someone pays you a comment’
If you’re such a good guy then understand that your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual. No-one should make a woman feel like she has an obligation to respond to him, especially when it could easily be at the expense of her own safety.
-‘I have trouble meeting women’
Maybe that’s because you’re the kind of man who shouts shit at them in the street?
-‘I want her to know she’s pretty’
Maybe she already knows, maybe she doesn’t care what you think anyway.
-‘I’m a woman, I don’t want to appear rude’
I’m going to be hella childish here, but they started it by being rude the second they decided to objectify you in the street.
-‘What if he’s nice?’
You want a relationship with a guy that publicly shouts sexual comments at women he finds attractive? Maybe I’m being old fashioned, but that doesn’t sound like a good relationship to me.
“Hey Mum, meet my new boyfriend- I met him when I was walking down the street and he yelled ‘Hey baby, come here- I’ve got something for ya” Nice.
-‘I don’t want to look like a man hater, so I’m going to respond to cat calling and encourage people to do the same’
It’s bad enough risking your own safety, but do you really have to encourage young women to do the same thing? Don’t risk the safety of young women because you think someone might brand you a ‘man hater’
Again, your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual.
Recently I ignored a cat call from a group of men while sitting along at a bus stop- the guy responded by punching the bus stop wall about an inch away from my face. Strangely enough that didn’t make me feel pretty, it didn’t flatter me, it just pissed me off and scared me.
We’ve all seen news reports about girls and women who are attacked and worse because they ignored cat calls, because they responded to them or because they dared to say ‘I am a person, not something here for your amusement- don’t objectify me and don’t harass me”
With soft porn in our newspapers (because if a guy can’t see boobs when he’s catching up on the daily news then what is the point of even reading it?) and the way that the media represents women in general it isn’t difficult to see why so many men think that we just love to be reduced to nothing more than sexual objects, but honestly? That’s not what we want. At all.
Cat-calling isn’t a compliment, it’s about ownership and control, the simple fact is that at least once in her life a woman is going to be made to feel frightened, uncomfortable and vulnerable because of a guy who just can’t keep his thoughts to himself.
Is My Gender Showing?: I’m an animal, people and tree hugging ecofeminist. Sporadic fiction writer and freelance journalist with a new blog, Is My Gender Showing? about all areas of feminism with a focus on objectification, gender roles and mental health. I also from time to time document my adventures with No More Page 3 Leeds and Yorkshire Feminista. I can be on Twitter found at @feministvibes