When you honk at me, or yell at me from your car, and I turn to look at you, the look you see in my eyes is not one filled with desire. It’s one filled with fear. The fear that causes me to walk home with my keys entwined between my fingers. The fear that makes me look behind my shoulder every thirty seconds because I’m afraid of what might be lurking behind me.
When you catcall a woman, you are doing yourself and her a strong disservice. You are making her scared to walk the streets alone. It can have a serious impact on her mental health, self-esteem and overall feeling of safety.
I’ve been honked at and catcalled multiple times, I’ve even been grabbed on occasion. And what follows is a combination of anger and fear.
When you honk at me, you’re telling me that I’m nothing more than an object, something for you to look at as you are stopped at a red light. When you yell that I have a nice ass, it causes me to rethink what I wear when I step out of the apartment the following day.
When you grab me, I am reminded that as a woman, I have no personal space. I’m reminded that I’m not respected.
That idea that I should be appreciative or flattered when I’m catcalled is weird, because in its simplest form, it implies that catcalling is something that is done with respect. It creates the illusion that the reason a man will catcall a woman is because he thinks that it will improve her day.
But this is false.
The reason a man decides to catcall is because he thinks it will somehow lead to sex. Do you really think that it’s going to work? Do you really think that one day when you honk at a woman, she’s going to turn around, smile at you, and jump in your car? Because I can tell you right now that you’re wasting your time, because that is never going to happen.
The fact that catcalling is disrespectful is actually pretty obvious. If it was an act of respect, the second women started complaining about how it makes them uneasy or uncomfortable, it would’ve stopped. But it hasn’t.
The reality behind catcalling is that it is yet another way for men to degrade and objectify women.
It’s another way for men to treat women as sex objects. Another way for them to show disrespect. But as a society, we fail to treat it as such. We dismiss catcalling and have evolved to see it as a societal norm. But street harassment is an everyday reality for most women all over the world, and it needs to be taken seriously.
Catcalling isn’t just “men being men.” It isn’t respectful. It isn’t a compliment. It’s sexual harassment. And it needs to end.