Catcalling: it starts younger than you think


 I was walking down my street in broad daylight when a car pulled up next to me. There was a stop sign, and I thought nothing of it. That is until the man in the car rolled down his window and uttered the phrase, “Hey Doll.” That was my first time. I wanted to freeze, yell, do something. It happened too quickly. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. So, I ignored it. I didn’t tell anyone. I simply didn’t understand. And I still don’t. Catcalling is not okay and it should not be accepted or tolerated.

According to a study carried out by Cornell University, 84% of women around the world are catcalled before the age of seventeen. Catcalling may seem to be more common in busy cities, but in reality it happens all over. Women can be catcalled anywhere, on city streets, outside movie theatres, or even here, in Carlsbad Village. Some girls are even singled out while they are with their parents. Catcalling is a somewhat regular, but still uncomfortable, experience for many girls as they grow up. Students experience catcalling in Carlsbad, whether it be while they walk through to get a smoothie or go for a jog down their own street.

Some men see catcalling as a form of flattery, some sort of encouragement for women. They may think that women love to hear their input on their bodies, faces, and clothes. The truth is, very few women want to hear what random men have to say about them. It scares them. They struggle with what to do or how to react when men whistle, comment and yell things about how they look. Women don’t need the encouragement from strange men to feel good about themselves. In fact, catcalling can make women more self conscious about their clothes or bodies. One twitter user recounted her first catcall experience, writing, “I was nine years old and some man whistled at me and honked his car. Ever since I’ve felt uncomfortable wearing shorts.”

Many students who have experienced catcalling first hand have been called out by men in cars. This seems to be because a car is somewhat of a safe place for men who know that what they are doing IS sexual harassment. Whether men are yelling vile things or simply whistling, catcalling is inappropriate, as well as a violation of women everywhere. They can get away with it easily by speeding away in another direction, neither confronted nor disciplined. No consequences can often lead to further actions, and in this case more sexual assault.

Fortunately, many women are spreading awareness about catcalling and its normality in today’s society. For example, one activist created an instagram account, that currently has over 28.5 thousand followers, where catcall quotes are written on New York City sidewalks to spread awareness. Additionally, one woman made a video showing real life catcalling experiences as she walked the streets of New York for 10 hours, responding to the men who catcalled her.

Still, both young girls and boys should be educated on issues such as catcalling beyond social media. Young girls should be taught how to respond in scary situations, but more importantly, boys should be taught that catcalling is not okay. If schools will not teach about these very real occurrences, then parents should. The fact is that girls are verbally assaulted by men every single day, across the globe. To prevent this, we must voice our opinions and educate people. People must begin to realize that unwanted sexual comments are a form of sexual harassment, no matter how often they occur. Catcalling is normal, and it shouldn’t be.