Best Responses to Catcalling
You don your armour, tucking your earbuds in, and the music blares, while some self-proclaimed gentleman still audibly says he’ll treat you right, all right. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. The catcallers’ gravelly, slithering voices still trail after you — sometimes they follow you physically for blocks.
Why do men catcall, and continue to do so when women clearly don’t want their attention? Is it really to get a woman to smile? Is following her supposed to make her feel safe? Is continually jeering at her with the guys okay, even after she clearly shakes her head “no,” says she’s not interested or is driven to cuss catcallers out?
The answer is “no,” but catcallers seem to think that word means encouragement. It doesn’t seem like they intend to earn a positive response: they think catcalling is hilarious, that a woman’s autonomy and peace of mind walking down the street are a target waiting to be hit by their abuse.
Catcalling is a game to a man — when to a woman, it’s anything but that. It’s one more example of everyday sexism the world could do without.
What are the best responses to catcalls? It must be cautioned for women to keep their wits about them, as some men may turn violent in response to any response. But, sometimes, reading about other women’s best responses to catcalling helps women reclaim their power while laughing.
1. Catcallers Meet Confetti Guns
In Mexico City, one feminist collective, Las Hijas de Violencia (the Daughters of Violence), is fighting catcallers with confetti guns while battling outdated traditions and raunchy statements hidden beneath the guise of “nice” words. The group says women aren’t interested in hearing “positive” comments about their bodies while walking down the street. They say that women begin to experience such harassment as young as between 9 and 11 years of age.
Las Hijas de Violencia respond by coating the catcaller in confetti. Men try to deny the harassment took place, but hey, that’s kind of hard when they’re covered in the evidence. Other men will try to laugh it off, doing their best to retain their illusion of power.
Woman Takes Selfies With Her Catcallers
Some of your less enlightened male (or female) friends may say that catcalling doesn’t happen that often. As a 20-year-old student in the Netherlands, Noa Jansma experienced sexual objectification on a daily basis and got tired of it.
In response, Jansma took selfies with every catcaller for a month and posted the results on Instagram, captioned with the harassers’ catcalls like art in a gallery. From old to young, many of the men posed like they were hanging out at the bar on a Saturday night, while Jansma’s expression remained stoic, which as most women know is an encouragement for a man to tell her to smile.
One man, with a thumbs up in the selfie, had said to her, “Hey, beautiful, why are you sad?” Of course, Jansma replied, “I’m not sad,” and he asked, “Why don’t you smile at me then? You’re too sweet to be sad.”
Other men, old enough to be her father, asked her for a kiss, while one man followed her for two streets, asking her to get in his car. Her Instagram now has over 170,000 followers, mostly women.
Regular Mookychick contributor Roswell has written about how she takes a similar approach. When she is subjected to street harrassment, she pulls out a phone and takes a photo.
3. When He Appreciates Mama Nature’s Assets
When a man yells out that you have a nice butt, sometimes you have to use those assets to your advantage, especially when the wind’s about to blow.
That’s exactly what @carajanefrancis did. She said, “Man calls out “nice ass” and I just happen to be holding in a fart. Stop, look right at him and let it go.”
Thanks, Mama Nature.
4. Helping Your Harasser Find New Sexist Friends for a Play Date
He’s just lonely, and wants some comfort. Why won’t you give this poor man your number?
When a man kept harassing @KrezzyNL, she gave him the number of another sexist to be good buddies with since “they’d have a lot in common.”
Lecture the Crap Out of Them
One lovely day, @witchminx was riding her bike down the street, and this one guy said to his buddies, “she wants my dick,” and she rode back and lectured them for a good ten minutes.
Clearly, they want to know about sex ed, bodily autonomy and the female body, right?? Give it to them straight — the whole bleeding for three to seven days thing, and everything they need to know about erectile dysfunction, since younger men are increasingly experiencing deflated man balloon issues.
Part of being proactive in these moments is, of course, weighing what’s most important to your safety. Stand up for yourself, but keep your wits about you as you press onward in your daily battle to smash the patriarchy.
Tagged in: everyday sexism