The world that we live in is constantly changing and evolving, and this is not always for the better.
Unfortunately, catcalling does not end on the streets, as this harassment now extends into social media due to the increased presence of social platforms in our everyday lives.
Catcalling is the objectification of somebody, and in frequent cases, this tends to be the objectification of women by men. Furthermore, catcalling can be derived from the sexist idea that if a woman dresses a certain way, they are seeking out male attention. The false equivalence between how a woman dresses and the obscenities she receives needs to be dismantled. If I wear a dress that might be considered revealing, this does not mean I am desperate for male attention from all men. It could just mean I want to wear a dress because I think it is cute. In addition, I could want attention from one man, but that does not mean other men should assume I want attention from them.
I was 13 when I first received a sexualized message from a male stranger on Facebook. This type of catcalling online is essentially the same as traditional catcalling, just through a different platform. Overall, my appearance should not warrant these unwanted obscenities from complete strangers. In the past year, I have received close to a hundred of these unwanted personal messages on Facebook and Instagram. One of the most frustrating aspects of these messages is the lack of response and help from social media platforms. It is really irritating that the response I receive from the employers of these platforms tends to be: this message did not violate any of our standards. I don’t find it fair that while I and others have to put both physical and emotional effort into blocking people and deleting messages, we get dismissed. The other frustrating part is what precedes these messages; after I comment or reply to a public post, these messages normally follow. I want to live in a world where I can tag my friends in the comments of an adorable puppy video without having a guy message that he wants to marry me, comment on my physical features, or build me a house.
Fortunately, I think things are changing because of recent momentum to create a more inclusive, feminist future on the heels of the #MeToo movement. However, we still have a long way to go to create a society where people are not subjected to harassment because of their physical appearance. There are multiple avenues that taken to end catcalling on social media, two being tougher consequences for people who sexually harass, or harass at all, others on social media and common sense. It is unacceptable that an adult male received no consequences for sending me a sexually explicit message when I was thirteen. It should be common sense that it is unacceptable to harass others.
Catcalling is at its root sexual harassment, and often times misogynistic. Whether it is online or on a street, it is inexcusable conduct.