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Catcalls Are Not Compliments. They Are Offensive, And So MUST Stop

“I am not your dog that you whistle for; I’m not a stray animal you call over, and I am not, I never have been, nor will I ever be, your “baby”!” 

― Joy Jennings, I’m Not Your “Baby”: An Australian woman’s tortured life of sexual harassment and assault

Different people have different opinions on catcalling. Some think it is offensive, while others consider it a compliment. Here’s why we deeply agree with the former set of sentiments.

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Image source: Youtube

In most cases, intention behind a catcall isn’t positive, and an action is, to a large extent, judged by the intention working as its driving force. Before we analyze how catcalling is invasive and how men entitled to receive the attention of women, let us first define catcalling.

Suggested read: 26 Tweets That Show How Women Experience Sexual Harassment And Violence From An Early Age

What is catcalling?

Most people have a general idea about what catcalling is, but we would like to explicitly define the term, so that there is no vagueness around it.

According to GREATiST,

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that, according to the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment, involves “unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public places which are motivated by gender and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way.” According to Collective Action for Safe Spaces, “Public sexual harassment occurs on a continuum starting with words, stalking and unwanted touching, which can lead to more violent crimes like rape, assault and murder.”

Catcalling is when a strange person (in most cases men), call out at women (or men, who they consider weaker than themselves), in a detestable manner. Usually it is loud, and more than often, it is inappropriate.

Catcalling is, generally, of a sexual manner, and something that is done to make women uncomfortable. These men, then, try to seek pleasure of the woman’s discomfort and/or humiliation.

Why should catcalling not be considered a compliment, but an offence?

This debate has been going on for decades, if not centuries. Some people, mostly men, think of it as a compliment. They say they are admirers of beauty and complimenting a beautiful woman, even if she is a stranger (even if she isn’t liking it?!), comes naturally to them. And then, there are people like us who are dead against catcalls, because the person it is directed to does not feel good about it. And that should be reason enough.

Yet, we will give you 7 reasons why catcalling is offensive

1. It is a practice of objectifying women

And so, it dehumanizes them. One cannot disregard this point that when men jeer at a woman, they are not thinking of them as people/humans who have feelings of dignity and self-respect. Catcalls are not respectful, and it makes a woman feel as if the sole purpose of her existence, according to these men, is to amuse them or give them pleasure.

When you consider the other person to be devoid of feelings, you are dehumanizing them. You are looking at this fellow human as a pair of b**bs and/or a bum (which you are rating on a scale of 0 to 10).

2. It is plain and simple INSOLENT

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Jeering at someone, oftentimes loudly, calling them sexy or hot or some adjective of that sort IS RUDE!  It is not a compliment, if it is unwelcome.

A strange someone yelling out and using terms of endearment to address you, is horrible.

3. It is sexual harassment

Yes, you read that right. And if you are astonished by this, then you should know I am astonished by your astonishment! Something that is offensive and unwelcomed, something that has sexual implications, is sexual harassment.

Women do not want to know what strange men think about their bodies. And if you are going to blame biology for your attraction, then know that what you feel about a woman walking down the road is your business, and you DO NOT NEED TO TELL HER THAT, because that’s not biology, that is manners.

4. Targeting women to feel better about your hopeless self

Research shows that men who catcall are jeering not to compliment women, but to make them feel awful, which in turn, makes these men feel better about themselves. There is no purpose behind the hollering except this: To feel more manly. To feel more powerful.

Patriarchy harms men too. It dehumanizes them too. It makes their egos fragile, and it expects women to feed these fragile egos. Men need to have control over women, if they want patriarchy to survive, and to that end, catcalling is a method to remind women that they are their bodies and nothing else, and the purpose of these bodies is to please men.

Suggested read: Child Sexual Abuse: How To Protect Your Children

5. It reflects a sense of entitlement

This is definitely the most exasperating of all the reasons that make catcalling offensive. Men feel they are entitled to say whatever they want to a woman, and they feel like it is their right to get attention from women. Why such sense of entitlement, guys?

On Instagram, there are so many men who keep messaging me saying, “I want to be friends with you.” And if I do not respond to that, the following messages follow:

“Hi/Hello/Good morning” for the rest of my life, or,

“*insert a term that is used for a young feline as well as a body part/ or a female barking animal*”

Why? Why such entitlement? Why would I want to “do friendship” with you!?

Similarly, catcalling is a way of attracting attention, and it is high time men realize that they mean nothing to that woman walking down the road for her to give her attention. PERIOD!

6. What is catcalling, if not embarrassing, folks!

Isn’t that the whole intention behind jeering at a woman? To humiliate her. Being called names by strange men is embarrassing and unasked for.

When you shout at a woman slangs that are so derogatory that I cannot mention here, you aren’t just trying to draw her attention, you are trying to draw everyone’s attention on the road towards her. Everyone, courtesy you, is looking at her as an object that has b**bs or hips, or an *ss! And you think that is a praise that women should thank you for!

7. It scares us!

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A woman, when catcalled, is put in a defenseless position, a very vulnerable position. It scares her. The next thing she is worried about is you following her. Even after several days, she will be looking behind and around her, while walking, to make sure you are not there, stalking her like she is your prey.

When a woman is catcalled, the first thought that pops up in her mind is this: “Did I do something to attract this guy’s/s’ attention?” That is because we women have been socialized this way. As if the fault always lies in us. This is why, in cases of sexual harassment or rape or molestation, quickly the whole conversation shifts to what the woman was wearing, or where she was, or if she was “asking for it!”. Very few raise questions about the man/men, as if it is expected of men to behave that way.

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

What people do not realize is this: Regardless of the length of the woman’s skirt, catcalls will happen, because it is not about the length of her skirt, it is about a sick mentality of having a control over women’s bodies and minds. So even if a woman were to alter all the circumstantial details, she will be catcalled again.

The onus has to shift from women who get catcalled to men who catcall, if a change is to be brought about.  We need to stop making women feel guilty about themselves. We need to stop telling women that they are uptight and cannot take compliments, because, for the umpteenth time, CATCALLS ARE NOT COMPLIMENTS.

Don’t make a woman feel like an animal in a zoo. Some awful humans poke fingers against the glass to disturb the animal, or throw things at the animal in the cage. This is an equivalent to that, and both must stop.

If you want to compliment someone, then you should approach them individually. But if they do not like that and don’t give their consent to you approaching them further, then that must be respected too.

So in a nutshell, catcalling is UNWELCOME. Even if you are actually complimenting a stranger through your catcalls, it is offensive. It is obnoxious. It is not something women appreciate and it will not make the women you are targeting, like you or give you attention. You are scaring her. You need to stop.

Suggested read: 8 Invalid Excuses For Street Harassment We Need To STOP Making

That is all we have on today’s post, ‘What is catcalling and why should women take offence when catcalled.’

We would love to know what you thought about the post, and also what are your opinions on the subject. Let us know your views in the comment section below.

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Featured image source: Youtube 

Article Name
What Is Catcalling And Why Women Should Take Offence When Catcalled
Here's why catcalling shouldn't be considered a compliment. But before going into that, let's find out what is catcalling, so that we can avoid vagueness.
Riya Roy

Riya Roy

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” This Isaac Asimov line, embraces my love for writing in the finest and most desperate way that it is and should be! I was tormented by the earnestness of the written word not very early in my journey. But once smitten, it has helped me devour life twice over; savoring the moment and indulging in its memories. As a flâneuse, I wander to understand the intricacies of human relationships. Realizing that, they are just different manifestations of the same feeling of love, has been my greatest learning. I seek to share its opulence through the words I type.