catcalling

 

Hello, lovely readers of my mum’s blog.

If you have been reading this blog for a long time, you will have seen a few of my guest posts, and you will know how they are all meant to be funny, silly, and light-hearted, whether they are about the relationship problems of high-heels or a fight between two competitive mothers as witnessed by a school teacher. But today, due to a string of different events that have happened to me recently, this post will be about a more serious matter:
Let’s begin with a story (for atmospherical purposes read this with ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ playing in your head). Two youngish girls walk down a road. It’s a sunny day, birds are sweetly chirping from their nests. The two girls walk arm in arm, chatting and laughing about unimportant, but nevertheless, amusing anecdotes. One is taller and wears brown wedges, a black and white tweed dress with a leather jacket and her ponytail swings gently from side to side with each step she takes. The other also sports a leather jacket, a red pencil skirt, white shirt and black ankle boots, with her long hair down.

The girls chat excitedly about the afternoon tea they are ambling towards, how posh it seems, one wonders if it is a bit girly for her but happily walks alongside her best friend, smiling to herself. The trees on the pavement sway to and fro in the spring breeze making light rustling sounds as the pair walk past. Then, from the cars racing past comes the shout, “NICE ARSE DARLIN!”. Yes, dear readers. I am going to talk about cat-calling. I do not like being cat called, yet it continues to happen, so I thought I should make a list of reasons not to catcall.

1. It’s scary. I have been cat-called from the age of 12 because I look older than I am, and the first time it happened, I sprinted home crying. When I was walking to afternoon tea with my friend and we were shouted at from a car, that was the first time she had been cat-called and she was scared.

She was scared even more when it happened again as we were drinking tea outside the cafe.I had been desensitised to it, and made a gesture that clearly expressed my feelings towards the man in that car, she decided to move inside.

When we had finished our tea, my friend was uneasy about walking the short distance to her house, because she was shaken and afraid, as I was when I was 12. The thoughts that rush through your head when someone honks, shouts, whistles or makes kissing noises are, usually, along the lines of, “I am so angry right now, but if I say something will he react violently?”

Chances are, nothing will happen, because yelling from a moving car is not the bravest thing in the world, but there is always that little niggling feeling of potential danger. However, I realise that those who are reading this and do catcall don’t really care about whether the woman is uncomfortable or not so, to the next point, I suppose.

2. It is NOT complimentary. There is a huge difference between politely saying to someone, “I think that you are really beautiful,” and yelling from a moving car “LOVELY LEGS, SWEETHEART!”. Funnily enough, one way rather takes the charm out of the interaction.

3. It makes me feel bad about myself. I like to think that I have a good amount of self-esteem, as I think that all men and women should. But when I walk outside wearing something that I think makes me look nice and someone makes kissing noises and whistles from the other side of the street, it makes me question myself. It makes me wonder if I am wearing something too provocative, when the truth is, that shouldn’t matter. My style is usually smart casual and it gets looks from people, which I actually don’t mind.

Some may disagree with me, but if I catch someone’s eye, man or woman, and they don’t make it obvious that I have, that’s fine, and actually, it feels good to turn heads. But if my style starts compelling men to make a noise about it, it makes me question my clothing choice, and that should have nothing to do with anything. No matter if I am wearing a burka or a mini skirt and crop top, catcalling is never justified.

4. It gives all men a bad name. I just want to say that I have nothing against men in general. I have always felt more comfortable around boys than around girls, because they tend to be less complicated and a bit more straightforward. So, I know that not all, in fact, most men aren’t like those in this blog post. But I have never had a woman cat call me. Not once. It has always been men, and I know that not all men are nasty like those that I talk about here. Even if you don’t care about what women think of you, spare a thought for the poor men that just want to live their lives with respect for women, but when they walk down the street, those same women recoil from and avoid them, because they don’t want to be verbally accosted.

6. (The most obvious one) It’s creepy. Undeniably, inexcusably, almost breathtakingly creepy. Men might do it to make themselves feel good, or make themselves feel big by making a beautiful lady feel small, but the result will always be the same. If you catcall, you are a creepy person. And in fact, all women will think you are creepy if you catcall.

We may feel a bit threatened or intimidated or, in my case at least, angry enough to shout explicit words after your car as you zoom off, but rest assured, at the end of the day, we will always think that you are creepy. By yelling at us, you actually give us women more power, because you have just shown that you are, once again, creepy. And we will laugh about that after you have gone. By catcalling, you earn the disrespect of other, better men, and practically every woman in the world.

So finally, I just want to send a message. To the two men today that honked in their vans as I walked past in white jeans an a blue shirt; to the two men that yelled at me and my friend, scaring her and angering me; to the other man yesterday that honked at me as I made my way to my friend’s house; to the man who came up to me as I was walking to the shops saying ‘‘Alright,” and when I didn’t reply, saying it again, while coming closer, making me back up against the wall; to those boys that whistled to me across the street when I was 13; to the man who made me cry by yelling out of his car window when I was just 12 years old: stop it! It’s not big and it’s not clever, and it certainly isn’t attractive or endearing. It just makes you look like a ****.