It’s a bright sunny day as you’re taking a stroll through your neighborhood. The birds are chirping and leaves are falling to the ground. You smile as bikers pass by and catch the eyes of a couple neighbors as well. You also find the eyes of a man walking towards you. You don’t think of it much until he steps closer to you and whispers a suggestive comment. Your heart rate quickens as you realize what just happened and your heart plummets to the darkest part of your body.
The popularity of catcalling has grown over the years and it has many people to thank for, especially cartoonists. A man named Tex Avery has a famous cartoon about a wolf whistling and losing its marbles over a beautiful woman walking by. More and more people believed that this practice was not a form of harassment, but a compliment. So then, more and more people started doing it.
Many people who have not been a victim to catcalling like to brush it off as a compliment or praise toward the person. However, catcalling isn’t a compliment. It is street harassment that is dehumanizing and offensive. Calling attention to a person about their body as if they were an object or merely just a sexual toy to play with is not a compliment. The after effects of being catcalled can be serious. The psychological after effects can make a victim feel degraded.
It may be harder to travel places, be confident outside, and most importantly, feel safe. It's extremely hard to feel safe when you could be followed or harassed by anyone.
Stop Street Harassment upheld a survey and with their gathered information found that 65% of women have been catcalled or experienced other forms of harassment on the street. 25% of men have experienced street harassment, although a higher rate of those harassed were those who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s hard to fight back from street harassment. When someone hollers out a comment such as asking you questions and you deny them, it's not uncommon for the initiator to get upset and have a change in attitude. Or maybe it's a whistle, or a short comment about your boobs. Either way, it isn’t okay. However, it's important to stand up to your bullies. Ignoring the catcaller is the safest and easiest way out. Retaliating is a better idea if you are in a well-populated area.
Compliments should be rooted towards somebody’s personality or humor, not their looks. That is what distinguishes catcalling from compliments. It doesn’t feel good or rewarding. It just feels scary and degrading. Just by that mere comparison, I think that sums up why catcalling isn’t a compliment.