Dear Catcallers, F*** You

catcall

Last night I went on a Target trip with friends, as we do on a very regular basis. Walking into the store, a guy whistled at us from his car. When we didn’t respond or look his direction, he yelled at us. At that point, I turned around and shouted, “you wish!” Probably not my best comeback, but it was the best thing I could come up with on the spot. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, my friend turned to me and said, “okay, let’s not.” I’ve been catcalled many times in my years as a young woman, but this was the first time I ever yelled back, and it was also the first time I was shut down by another woman. It came as a surprise to me how angry this made me. Not only do men get approval for objectifying women, but women get shut down by other women for standing up for themselves.

When I shouted back at the beedy-eyed bastard who catcalled us from the safety of his car, my heart was pounding and I questioned my actions subconsciously a thousand times before I yelled. But why? Because society has taught me to try to ignore the men who shout profane things at me; because I know that men who yell things like that could be a threat to me; because society tells me to let him yell things at me and continue to let him think it’s okay; because it is actually scary to be yelled at in a dark parking lot at night; and because in my almost 21 years, society has let me think that I don’t have the right to stand up for myself against men who objectify and diminish me.

And that is not okay.

So catcalling men,
It is the 21st fucking century. I’m sick of the catcalls, the “mmm sexy” muttered under your breath, the kissy noises when I walk by, and the unsolicited touching of my hair, my face, and my body in bars. I will not have sex with you. I will not flirt with you. I will not give you the time of day. I will never take it as a compliment when you objectify my body. I will not ignore you – I will fight back. I am a human being with a mind and a voice and if you are unwilling to see me as your equal, then I’m perfectly fine being your superior. 

And silent women,
Start standing up for yourselves, your friends, and your fellow women. Wear what you want. Don’t take shit from men who see you as just another piece of ass. This is a call to action; we can’t just sit around expecting things to change. If we are silent, the catcalls and whistles and shouts of sexism will continue. By not shouting back, laughing at their pathetic attempts at demoralizing us, and standing our ground, we are letting men continue to believe it is okay to treat us this way. You deserve better. Would you stand by if it were your daughter being shouted at?

finger

If you need more encouragement, check out Jessica Williams, comedian, feminist, and Daily Show correspondant:

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/v7vq7r/masters-of-sexism—claps-and-catcalls

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/z2b627/the-fault-in-our-schools

And if you don’t agree, check out this Buzzfeed post and then get back to me:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/laraparker/things-no-one-tells-you-about-being-a-woman?bffb#1n5m9j1

 

(first image via blindgossip.com, second image via commons.wikimedia.org)

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2 thoughts on “Dear Catcallers, F*** You

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am a female college student, and consider myself a feminist. I found your article extremely troubling for a number of reasons.

    First of all, personal safety is a huge reason why many women that I know, and myself, choose not to verbally respond to “catcallers” or verbal harassment in the way that you outline in this article. Responding to an aggressive stranger, whether one is alone or in a group, can quite simply be dangerous, and it is often difficult if not impossible to discern the level of threat that such an individual might pose. Yes, sexual harassment is a prevalent societal problem for women that has become culturally “casual”. However, imploring women to directly respond to these instances of harassment in the moment is naive, unrealistic, and often simply unsafe. This is not a fair expectation that you so freely assign to women as a generalized group. If you personally feel comfortable and empowered in such a response, that is great and is your choice. But as someone who has often felt unsafe in the presence of public sexual harassment, I would feel both uncomfortable and unsafe if my friend so brazenly responded to a stranger on my behalf like you described.

    You equate silence with complacency. Just because you feel empowered in giving a verbal response to sexual harassment does not mean that another woman is not equally justified in feeling empowered through not responding in such a situation. Victims of any kind should not be obligated to speak out, ESPECIALLY in the face of their abuser. Silence is an active choice. Silence in reaction to sexual harassment does not make a person less feminist–feminism is about giving women the freedom and power to make their own choices, not telling other women how YOU think they should be reacting to a situation of victimization. Yes, there are certainly victims that feel that they do not have the freedom or power to be vocal about their experiences, and it is important that they are allowed this freedom and power. Yet, telling all women that they SHOULD not be silent is judgmental and biased to your own specific choice in how to deal with and respond to sexual harassment.

    More problematic is your victim-shaming and blaming language parading as female empowerment. On your facebook page, you caption a video of a woman being harassed on the streets of New York City with the statement “Don’t just stand by and let it happen.” In this article, a similar blame is placed on the part of the woman to take responsibility for being harassed, with language such as “we can’t just sit around expecting things to change. If we are silent, the catcalls and whistles and shouts of sexism will continue. By not shouting back, laughing at their pathetic attempts at demoralizing us, and standing our ground, we are letting men continue to believe it is okay to treat us this way.”
    This is the language of victim blaming. If we do not respond to sexual harassment in a way that you deem best, we are “LETTING MEN” continue to harass us??? We are standing by and “LETTING IT HAPPEN”? There is no situation in which women should be accused of “letting” harassment happen to them.

    I urge you not to read my criticism as a random and misled interpretation of your article, and implore you to exercise stronger critical thinking in your next attempts to broadcast “feminist” empowerment speeches. Shallow interpretations of feminism, such as this article, end up undercutting the true core of feminist thinking that you were trying to achieve.

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