Catcalling vs Complimenting

Veronica Streibel-May

*disclaimer: this is not directed at all men. This has been generalized for the purpose of getting a message across.

Catcalling. Nothing provocative in the two individual words alone. Playing with a little kitty conjures up a sweet image. Nothing that can hint that this is a negative term. How ironic. 

The dictionary definition of the phrase catcalling is: ‘the act of shouting, harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening or derisive comments at someone publicly’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

It shocks me that many still believe that showing a woman any kind of attention should be taken as a compliment. We musnt get confused between sexual harassment and admiration. They just don’t belong together. Catcalling is not a form of respect, you are in fact undermining the victim and making them feel vulnerable. 

Most girls have been honked at, yelled at or whistled at by simply strolling down the street, minding their own business. It’s not uncommon. It just goes unnoticed in today’s society as we’ve accepted and learned to ignore it. But why? Why tolerate such an act when all it does is demolish our self esteem. It’s just uncomfortable and for what? So guys in their cars can zoom past and feel superior and manly? 

To set things straight; the intention behind a compliment is to make someone feel good and boost their confidence. For example: “your hair looks really nice today” or “that top suits you”. However when someone random on the sidewalk is commenting on how “those jeans make your butt look awesome”, it sends a shiver down your spine. Since when is it okay to make a sexual comment like that? To be honest, it will make the person feel violated and rather self-conscious as opposed to attractive and good looking. Men may not see the issue behind as in essence having a nice butt isn’t a bad thing but the problem is the way it’s done is dehumanizing. Objectifying women is no way to go about “complimenting” them. Treating them like a piece of meat tells them they are not valued.

Women get scared. How should we know when it stops at the comment? When we’re all alone, we’re seen as easy targets. Walking from the grocery store to the parking lot can become a dangerous path at night. Asking men to stop only aggravates them further and can push them to get violent. Standing up for yourself may be the right thing to do, but at what cost? 

Some may blame women for wearing “provocative” clothes and in this case are “asking for it”. I just laugh at this response. Are you saying women have to limit themselves just because they’re afraid of receiving unwanted attention? Anyone should be able to walk out in whatever attire that pleases them and feel reassured that this won’t cause them distress from a rando in his car. It’s not the outfit. It’s the mindset. It’s the entitlement guys feel that they have the upper hand and think it would be fun to make a woman feel uncomfortable. Listen, it’s not cute, it’s degrading

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