It Doesn't Need An Explanation: 9 Reasons Catcalling Is Harassment

by Alice Panikian

There has been some controversy surrounding the recently released and now-viral catcalling video. In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen it, the video features an attractive young woman walking the streets of New York over the course of 10 hours.

During this time, she is repeatedly catcalled by dozens of men and, at one point, even followed.

The response to this video has been one of mixed reactions and dispute. But, some of the loudest voices have been those of men, those who don’t consider this type of interaction to be “harassment.”

As a woman living in New York, I can confirm that the video is accurate in its portrayal of the daily life of a young woman living in the big city. And, as someone who has had a lot of experience with the issue, I believe I am in a position to comment on it — unlike many of the very vocal males out there.

Catcalling IS harassment. Here's why:

It Makes Us Feel Unsafe

I have literally been chased — CHASED — down the street by a man screaming, “Bitch, I’m talking to you!” Onlookers watched me run by, none of whom attempted to help me.

If I hadn’t jumped into a taxi and locked the doors, I’m not really sure what would have happened, but it’s not something I like to think about.

What did I do to provoke this man? Nothing. I was walking home, minding my own business. I chose not to partake in conversation with him, which was apparently reason enough for him to chase me down the street.

Obviously this was an extreme case, but situations like this happen all the time. Having a man hiss at you, stare at you or follow you down the street is not just annoying, it can be downright terrifying.

It Is Not A Double Standard

Some men try to make light of this issue by saying they would love it if women approached them constantly. Maybe that is true, but it is absolutely not the same thing when men get approached on the street.

Rape and violence against women occurs at a much higher and much more fatal rate.

You Don't Know Me — Don't Tell Me To Smile

How could you possibly know who I am? How could you possibly know whether or not I am happy? Maybe I am having a day from hell. Maybe this is just my face! For some reason, many men expect women to look happy at all times, with smiles stretched across our faces.

There isn't anything particularly awesome about walking down the street, and believe me, the last thing I want to hear three days after my father dies is, “Smile, baby.”

It Is Not Flattering

No, it is not flattering when a man follows you down the street, whistling, hissing, winking or making lewd comments. Similarly, looking a woman up and down and undressing her with your eyes doesn’t feel like much of a compliment, either. In fact, it feels like a violation.

Believe it or not, it is not our ultimate goal in life to be sexually desired by everything with a penis.

Women Are Not Here To Please Men

Women are human beings. We don’t owe men anything. We are not obligated to flirt with them, reciprocate conversation with them or even acknowledge men who attempt interacting with us. All of these things are our choice.

Catcalling Is Stupid And Pointless

Does catcalling work for anyone? Seriously, I would like to meet the man who has had success hollering at women because it has never worked on me or any other woman I know. It's disrespectful and blatant objectification.

It Perpetuates The Cycle Of Disrespect

Someone once offered me a ride home and, when I declined, he called me a “f*cking stuck-up bitch.” Misogyny is alive and well in today’s world. And, there is next to nothing that can eliminate it completely.

But, when people (men or women) try to dismiss it by saying it’s not harassment and shouldn’t be taken so seriously, it’s a slippery slope.

It’s Turning Us Into Bitches

Maybe you are a gentleman. Maybe you start the conversation by saying, "Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but I just wanted to say hello." And maybe, she still walks away. Don’t take it personally.

Know that the cause of this is the constant unwanted attention she probably receives regularly, or maybe it's a result of something else going on in her life that's occupying her mind.

This is why women are "bitches." This is why I am a bitch. I’m told on the regular, “When I first met you, I thought you were a complete bitch!” Well, that’s because I am forced to be.

I don’t want to invite comments or propositions from strangers. Call me a bitch, but the sad truth is, I am only trying to protect myself.

It's How The Majority Of The Female Population Feels

If the female response to this has been a resounding, “This is not okay!” maybe it’s time to listen. No more ignorant justifications and no more dismissals of this very real problem. Catcalling is harassment, plain and simple.