Let’s talk about cat calling…

I asked a few questions last week on the project Instagram about cat calling and how many women had experienced it or if they had anything they’d like to add. I had so many responses that I’m only just getting round to curating them for your reading now.

The results were varied but did show that an alarming number of women still feel harassed when just walking around or have been cat called in a way which makes them uncomfortable. So let’s look at some of the responses.

I asked the question… “how would you feel if a stranger would whistled at you?”..

Sarah in Scotland said:

“Would NOT feel flattered. Would 100% be inclined to reply with a middle finger or a FUCK OFF.”

Carla in New York said:

“It makes me feel like I’m on display. I just started a masters program at NYU and the week before school, I was on campus a lot for orientation and I was excited to be in a new space, learning new things, meeting new people and in general being valued for my intellect and what I can bring to the program. The first day I was on campus, I are lunch in Washington Square Park and was INTENSELY cat called at.

I ate my lunch in the park every day the rest of that week and was cat called at, to various degrees every single day. Since then, my perception of that space, a space I thought would be a place for me to grow intellectually, has changed. I haven’t had lunch in the park since.”

Caroline in England said:

“I think it can absolutely feel flattering, because everyone likes knowing that any work they’ve put into their appearance is appreciated. That said, after surviving sexual assault, I personally felt very uncomfortable and found it somewhat threatening – if a person (often a man, in these cases) feels like he’s entitled to provide unsolicited comments on my looks, what else does he think he’s entitled to do?”

Callan In Scotland said:

“I don’t think a cat call or wolf whistle is a compliment. It’s a way of exerting power – no matter what tone response is, it’s never right. If you say something angry, you’ll invariably be called a slut / bitch / frigid and I’ve even known of people to be physically hurt. If you ignore it, you’ll get some kinda shitty response or be followed until you respond.

There’s no winning, and it’s just a way of reinforcing that there’s not a damn thing you can do to be in an equal position of power in the exchange.

I think it should be made illegal as it is in other countries.

And I think it should go the same way for women doing it to men!

A lot of my male friends who work in hospitality have to deal with groups of older women groping etc, which again is excused as a joke or flattery.

Just because you see something you like, does NOT mean it’s your prerogative to fuck with someone’s autonomy and invade their space.”

Jo in England said:

“I think you just have to learn to take it as a compliment. People are always going to do it unfortunately and I think part of the reason we get embarrassed and anxious is because we aren’t used to taking compliments. I think if you take it as a compliment and allow the compliment in, you will slowly love yourself more whereas if you reject the compliment, you’re never going to believe it.

Hannah in Scotland said:

“I think it all depends on the person being whistled at.

Me personally, I don’t mind it! I give a cocky remark back. I work in the construction industry and have heard EVERYTHING so nothing shocks me. You just need to know how to hold your o n and if you get whistled at, it’s probably a genuine compliment. But I understand others may feel the opposite.

How did people meet before the internet? They usually approached others and started a conversation! Now it’s frowned upon for a male to approach a female and start any kind of convo workout coming across as “only after one thing” or automatically seen as hitting on them.”

Stacey in Colorado said:

“I’m not a dog. I don’t respond to whistles. I wouldn’t even respond to amoeba like that.”

Katy in Scotland said:

“I would probably feel a wee bit flattered but at the same time I’d think, “Get a grip pal, how embarrassing!”

Holly in Israel said:

“I hate it! It makes me so angry that these people think it’s OK to bother me or that I may find it flattering. I totally think, who do you think you are?”

Meez in England said:

“Absolutely shit!

It’s because of the internalised misogyny that some women find it flattering which is inherently sad. Women don’t exist in public to be gawped at and judged on our apparent attractiveness by random men. It’s sickening that they feel entitled to yell at people on the street.”

It seems that their are varying views and outlooks but the overwhelming word which kept cropping up is: Entitlement. We don’t like that men (and women!) feel a sense of entitlement to act in a certain way.

Thank you to all who contributed!

Mandy @ TEWP x

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