Editorial: Can we put an end to catcalling?


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Editorial Board

It’s 2018. So naturally, some think we should have outgrown catcalling.

But we haven’t.

In fact, it happens in our community nearly every day of the week, regardless of the time of day or if other people are around. And it’s got to stop.

Catcalling isn’t a compliment. It’s harassment. We have to stop thinking of it as anything else. Those who want to see catcalling as a compliment clearly have not put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

Imagine being a survivor of rape and having a group of strangers that you pass hollering demeaning comments at you. Imagine getting off work and feeling empowered by your job just to be harassed about your body. Imagine wanting to have a nice night out with your friends only to be yelled at by someone driving by.  

Those actions do not constitute a compliment. Catcalling can make the recipient feel anger, anxiety and fear, according to a survey. Are those feelings what you would expect someone to feel after you “compliment” them? 

Catcalling, like any form of harassment or sexual misconduct, is about the power of the person doing it and is entirely their fault. It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or where they’re walking at a certain time. No one is responsible for the person catcalling except the person doing it. 

How is someone supposed to effectively combat catcalling? They can either choose to respond or not — but neither fix the problem.

If the woman can even identify their harasser, many may choose not to respond because they fear doing so will incite further harassment or they don’t want to acknowledge such crude behavior. But by not responding, some women face further harassment because they didn’t acknowledge the “compliment” that was given to them by a complete stranger.

Responding, on the other hand, doesn’t alleviate the anger, anxiety or fear the situation may have brought them. Some women who respond by calling the harasser out on their crudeness end up being further harassed. No matter how a woman responds or doesn’t respond, it leaves them vulnerable and powerless.

What are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? 

If you have catcalled in the past, we ask you to think about what it would be like to be on the receiving end. And if you see catcalling taking place, especially if it’s coming from someone you’re with, we hope you will step in and say that it’s not OK. 

Excerpts from this editorial were published in a previous editorial in October 2016.