Catcalling – Creepy Or A Compliment?

ID-100216208Not too long ago, an acquaintance expressed her sadness that summertime seems to bring out all the catcalling assholes of the world. Catcalling is almost never welcomed and I felt her pain, but also maybe thought she was overreacting a little bit because if you can believe it or not, I have never had this happen to me.

I know, I know.

“But Crissy! A goddess like yourself has never been catcalled? PREPOSTEROUS!”

Perhaps. But it’s completely true!

I mean sure, dudes driving by will honk at me when I’m out getting the mail or sometimes when I’m driving, a guy will pull up next to me and say something, but I largely ignore it because it’s just assholes being assholes and what the fuck are you gonna do?  You can’t stop them and if you try, it will probably make things worse.

And besides, at least somebody thinks you’re sexy, right?

Well?  Not so much because apparently, catcalling can be pretty serious and very scary and it’s not something I’ve ever experienced to the extent that some other women I know have.

A friend of mine told me that she’s been circled by men saying sexually aggressive and threatening things to her and–even more surprisingly–that it’s very common where she’s originally from. I’m sort of shocked to learn that society has not evolved to the extent that I think it has. This makes me sad. It also makes me wonder if I’ve really been wandering around with my head that far up my ass all this time or what.

So first I talked about it with my husband. He admitted that even for him, evolved(ish) male as he is, it’s hard not to shout out at an attractive lady when he sees one. He TOTALLY gets the urge, but he controls himself because he knows that shit’s not cool, man.  But if he could, he’d be hollering all the time because he means it as a compliment and he doesn’t see much difference between doing that and when he drives by someone working on their lawn or painting their fence and shouts “lookin’ good!” at them.  Something he actually does do.

But there is a difference because when you’re a woman and you’re walking down the street all by your lonesome and someone (likely a man) decides to verbally harass you, you suddenly feel naked and you’re acutely aware of how defenseless you are if they decide to take it a step further.

The person working on their lawn or fence just gets an ego stroke.

The only thing like that that’s ever happened to me is when I was a senior in college. I had just gotten out of my car for an 11:30am class on a cold day in February/March-ish.  I was wearing my favorite pair of clicky-heeled Mary Jane flats with tights, a mid-thigh plaid wool skirt, and a Barbie pink parka. I was eating an apple and hauling my 30 lb messenger bag across my chest and sort of behind me so the bag was just over my bum.  There were some other students in the parking lot ahead of me, and I could feel someone walking very closely behind me.  Just as the students rounded a corner and were out of sight, the person behind me began to walk more quickly and before I knew it, there was a tug at my messenger bag and then HOLY HELL THERE WAS A HAND ON MY BUM! I was being assaulted!

The entire time he was behind me, I felt uncomfortable, so I had been fidgeting with the pepper spray I had in my pocket that my mother had insisted I needed (THANKS MOM!). Even though I felt like something wasn’t right and had been almost tackled to the ground, it still took a while to realize that I actually needed to use that pepper spray.

There was some verbal exchange, which is kind of fuzzy to me now about 14 years later, but the gist of it was that he was planning to rape me (he had already felt my bum and chesticals, albeit through my Barbie pink parka).  Then he tried!  I finally realized that I was in trouble and broke out the mace, attempted to spray him in the face (but instead got mostly blocked by his arm), turned and ran to the security office (which was mercifully just around the corner).

Still holding the apple I was eating on my way to class, I busted into the security office and sputtered something about being attacked.  They phoned the police and the stupid fuck was found peeking behind the curtains of a house he had just broken into.

I spent the rest of the day making statements and hanging out with the po-po and listening to a little girl who had been abandoned on the street by her mother cry for the very cunt that had been so cruel to her.

It was traumatic, to say the least, but at least I wasn’t seriously hurt. (BTW, the kid who grab-assed ended up being under 18, and not surprisingly already had a pretty long rap sheet.)

In my situation I was physically assaulted. Luckily for me my assailant was dumb and decided to do it in broad daylight on a fairly busy college campus just around the corner from a security office. I’ve never been verbally assaulted, at least not beyond the “usual stuff”–transient comments of a crude and (generally) flatteringly objectifying nature. Don’t get me wrong: those are unacceptable too, but IMO not in the same league as what I’ve learned some people experience, which is far more intimidating, degrading, and threatening.

So talk to me Toy with Mes. Without dredging up too many horribly painful memories, what’s your take on catcalling? Has it happened to you? How do you deal with it?

And for the boy Toy with Mes, do you get the urge to catcall? Have you ever (shame on you naughty boy) done it? Conversely, have you ever been, I don’t know what you’d even call it if you’re a boy, cockcalled? How did that make you feel?

Free Digital Photos. Photo by tiverylucky.



  1. I've actually never catcalled a girl (or anyone for that matter). And I've never been cockcalled either, haha. I have always thought that it was a douchey thing to do, and only jackasses would do it. I could only imagine how it would feel to be catcalled/harassed all alone on a street…if I were a girl that is. IF I were a girl, and if some random car pulled up harassing me, I would probably lead him on (only if he was alone) and when he got out of the car, give him a faceload of pepper spray and kick him in the balls. Then laugh and run like hell. Just my opinion…

  2. Jen

    When I was 12 or 13, I had a car full of I'm guessing Mexicans ( I was in northern part of southern California) yell at me: "Hey, baby, want a ride?" Now, at 12/13 I was already 5'8" and wearing a C-cup bra. Most people thought I was old enough to vote. Not the most comfortable experience for a junior high kid!

  3. Wicked Shawn

    I'm late to the party, but I have something to say damnit! Catcalling is merely "Hey baby, you look good" or "Hey hot stuff" or any other number of cheesy, dumbed down half assed lines of equal non-importance that are completely harmless. If these frighten you, I hate to sound rude or offensive, but there is an underlying issue. Anything that goes beyond those harmless types of mindless flattering phrases or the famous whistles, is not a catcall, it's a verbal assault. Obviously, Ken, nor from what I have read, any of the other guys who have posted in response to this, have any such act in mind when they suggest that catcalls shouldn't be looked at in such a dark light.
    Also, as for the body being an object, please, a show of hands for the ones in the house who don't view the male body as a hot work of art. It is NOT okay to expect anything different from men looking at us. It's a preposterous notion.

    Also, damn girl! So glad you were close to help! Pervy little prick.

  4. ken

    i see a bit of confusion stemming from a definition of terms.

    we have to agree on what constitutes catcalling… is it the wolf whistle, the "hey baby" as you walk by the construction site? is it yelling "suck my dick bitch" as you drive by?

    if we don't have consistent nomenclature then we are going to have circuitous arguments.

    • ScienceGeek

      All three are catcalls, in my book.
      My definition is – if you're yelling it from a distance, and/or it could apply to anything vaguely female, it's a cat call.

      If you're saying it directly to the woman, and it's specific to her, it's a compliment.

      • ken

        would you say that the catcall is designed to be overheard by people OTHER THAN the caller and the callee? ie, the catcall has an audience?

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