Catcalling never seems to die.
You look like you need a big d***! That’s the kind of a** I’d like to bite! Look at that tight white t-shirt on a cold day! Why don’t you just… smile!?
Sound familiar? At least in some form? For women and girls, that is.
We know it all too well. The sexually-suggestive comments, the unwelcome remarks, the derogatory words. Also the kissing, hissing, sucking, slurping sounds. All of that.
Whistling, vulgar gestures or noises, sexually suggestive comments, following someone, blocking the path, slowing the car down, honking the horn, “Hey baby!”… and So. Much. More.
No, I don’t know how to take a “compliment”.
Catcalling. Street harassment. Overt verbal abuse.
This stuff is usually focused on a woman’s body. Her body as a sexual object. And often focused on what the catcaller would like to do to her body. These are never harmless comments. Rather, they are designed to objectify a woman’s body. For their own amusement and pleasure.
These comments are built on a sense of entitlement to that body. And they are built to instill fear, to make women uncomfortable. The result is that this restricts women and girls from public space. This narrows their sphere, limits their mobility, curbs their freedom. The impact of these comments on our mental and physical health — and our fundamental rights and freedoms — cannot be underestimated.
Catcalling is so common it is normal. A normalized experience for women and girls. It is often their first incident of sexual harassment. An initiation into a world built on, by, and for men.
Street harassment is about someone exerting power and control over another. The result is women feel afraid, degraded, disempowered, embarrassed, and threatened. It sends the message that women are nothing more than objects.
And it often doesn’t stop there. Comments easily turn physical. The risk of physical and sexual assault, including rape, is not far-fetched.
If the catcaller is in a group, or if the individual being catcalled is on their own, it creates an added sense of danger. If the individual decides to defend themselves — it could often get worse.
Don’t walk alone at night! You can’t go out dressed like that! Wear headphones — but don’t have any sound on! Carry your keys in your hand — just in case!
Should we have to live like this?!
But the reality is — we do.
Head to the full blog to read some shocking/not-shocking global stats, excuses for why catcalling still happens, and what we can do about it: https://linaabirafeh.medium.com/nice-a-just-smile-ad1010df3d87
Bottom line: This is harassment. This is a crime. Women deserve to feel safe. And — damn, I’ve said it 1000 times before — if women are not safe, NO ONE is safe.