When I first began the brainstorming process for this post about catcalling, I thought about starting with a warning and apology for the anger and frustration that is about to unfold in the form of words. But then I thought, REALLY TRACEY?! Why do I have to apologize for being upset about being sexually harassed and catcalled for 24 years? I have a damn good reason to be angry and so does every other woman.
Although I won’t warn you about my anger, I will send a different kind of warning:
WARNING: If you’re not currently angry about sexual harassment and catcalling, you will be after this post. Get ready.
THESE ARE REAL STORIES FROM REAL WOMEN
- “I think what I hated the most was using the restroom at a particular bar. To get to the bathroom you had to walk by 2 pool tables of guys and ALL of them cat called me. They would say vulgar, disgusting things every time. Got to the point I wouldn’t use it there. But honestly too many sadly to recount.”
- “Whenever catcalling comes up I tell the story of my first (and sadly not my last) experience with street harassment. I was 14 and running alone at Cross Country practice because I was recovering from an injury and had to turn back early. I was waiting at a crosswalk when a white SUV pulled up next to me with three older men inside. They started saying vulgar and terrifying things and spat at and on me. I was too stunned and scared to run away so I stood there until the light turned green and they drove away laughing. I cried myself to sleep for well over a week.”
- “Once, in peoria at a crowded bar a guy grabbed my butt and I turned around and grabbed his dick. He called me a “crazy slut” and said “get your hands off me.” Funny how it flips around when I do it.”
- “Ever since I had a car I was taught to have my car keys in my hand, ready to hit the car alarm if I needed to or to use them as a weapon. Even walking to my car in a public area I don’t feel safe.”
- “My husband likes to run at night. I told him women don’t get the privilege of running in the dark. How sad. I even feel iffy during daylight.”
Are you pissed yet?
- “One day after work it was raining pretty hard and I REALLY didn’t want to run outside, but I knew I shouldn’t miss a day of training. After an hour of convincing myself, I decided to do a quick 4-miler. Now let me preface this, I REALLY didn’t want to run in the rain, like not at all, not even a smidge. One mile in, some guy in the passenger seat of a car, stuck his body out of the window (in the rain) to videotape me. He yelled, “Hey sexy, smile for the camera”. I immediately gave him the strongest middle finger I could and responded with a polite (yeah, right) “FUCK YOU!”. After my response, he decided to call me a ‘Stuck up bitch’.”
- “I had a guy one night about two years ago at rookies grab my butt crack/hole so intensely as I was walking he got my vagina. I slapped him then I proceeded to get kicked out of the bar and called racist.”
- I have experienced catcalling more times than I can count, but what hurts the most are the reactions of those who think it’s a compliment. I have had friends make my views and feelings seem trivial because it’s “flattering” and I should “take it as a compliment.” Their reactions just make me think about how twisted our society is…women should be able to walk down the street without being catcalled. Because we are still far away from that becoming a reality, women continue to receive catcalls…but they can’t say anything back…or they risk experiencing something even worse. But yea, it’s just a compliment.
How about now?
- My boyfriend and I were having a conversation and he was surprised I was aware I had not been catcalled since moving to Eugene. We got into a conversation of myself and friends being catcalled or harassed in someway due to being female. He was shocked at how often it happened and saddened by the fact that I keep tabs on things like how often I am catcalled. I think this sheds some light on how people are unaware of this happening because they don’t experience it.
- Going for runs, driving in my car, going out at night, a trip to the mall; I think every woman has been catcalled. The worst is being catcalled at work, my place of profession. A place where I cannot say anything “disrespectful” back or I’ll lose my job. Drunk guys have made so many vulgar comments, I honestly couldn’t give you a number of how many times I have felt violated by someone else’s words. One example: When you’re drunk you pee a lot, everyone knows that. Being drunk in a hospital takes all your privacy away, I had to help an adult male go to the bathroom, unable to get up due to not having any x rays done, he needed my help.
I told him to take his pants off and he said, “Sweetheart, as long as you’re in here with me I’ll do anything you want, will you hold “it” for me?”. I told him that I wouldn’t tolerate to be talked to like that and reminded him he was a grown man and to respect me as I’m only here to help him. He then said “fuck off bitch, you don’t want to help me, you have no idea what you’re doing, get the fuck out of my room”.
IT’S OUR CULTURE
It boggles my mind how embedded catcalling and sexual harassment is in our culture: We are a misogynistic culture, where 9/10 women are viewed as inferior and/or sexual objects for males. It is so embedded into our everyday life that it actually changes the way a woman thinks and the way she acts.
- I automatically assume that men are going to be inappropriate in some shape or form anytime they are friendly
- It’s hard to accept a compliment without thinking someone is catcalling or ‘making a move’
- I’m surprised and happy when a man does not catcall me
- I don’t even feel comfortable being alone among any aged man when I don’t know them (I’ve been catcalled by a 10 year old boy, all the way to a man in his 90s)
As I’m writing this, I’m immediately assuming that someone is going to have the thought of victim blaming: you could say that I’m making it worse by letting it affect me to this degree, but the sad part is – this way of thinking may save me.
LOCKER ROOM TALK
Now, to switch gears a bit (sorry to make this political…actually no I’m not)… let’s talk about the whole Trump ordeal with his “locker room” talk. There are many strong opinions regarding this, so you may not agree with me, and that’s fine. But let’s keep in mind that I’m only bringing this up in relation to the topic – this is not a bashing post against Trump (although I’d love to have one of those as well).
Trump used the term “locker room” because it was a way to generalize what he was doing. He didn’t want to say, “Oh yes, that’s me being a misogynistic, sexist, creepy ASSHOLE”. So instead, he generalized to create a transparency and relationship among him and ALL other men. When he did this, many men (mostly athletes) jumped the gun saying that kind of talk is NOT what happens in locker rooms – granted, it might not happen in all locker rooms all the time (and it definitely happens outside of locker rooms) but it is completely ignorant for anyone to say this doesn’t happen among men.
Now, just because most men do it, DOES NOT MAKE IT OK. People on the defense of Trump are saying that all men do it, so he is no different or any worse than all other males. BULL SHIT. Every part of that is bullshit. If you agree with that sentence, then you are part of the problem of why catcalling and sexual harassment are beyond normalized in our society. Excusing someone because other people do it happens all the time, but at what cost? Why are we excusing one sex to intentionally threaten the other?
So what now?
The most important thing to consider when voting for a candidate are their policies. Unfortunately, with this election, it seems like people are going with the person they hate less. With most of Americans throwing policies out the window, I ask you to at least consider the character of the candidate and how they treat people. Afterall, that’s why they are running right? To serve the people?
(Granted, both are FAR, so very far from perfect and just because I am writing this does not mean I’m ignoring Hillary’s faults.) Do we really want a person as the country’s leader that promotes catcalling and sexual assault as normal, respectful behavior just because of the penis between his legs? Do we want our country to head in the direction where females are a lesser human being, where we are only considered objects for sexual pleasure? It scares me to think that if Trump was president how the country would view and treat women. Young boys would grow up thinking that’s how they are supposed to treat women, and young girls are would grow up thinking catcalling is some sort of flattery. How much will the normalization of catcalling increase? Just think about it for a minute.
Catcalling: Not a FEMALE problem, it’s a PEOPLE problem
Let me break it to you like this: the shit needs to end. As a society, we can no longer think of women as moms, sisters, wives, daughters, nieces. WHY do people have to attach some sort of emotion to women for us to feel like a human to you?! Why can’t people just respect women because they’re a living, human being? I’m tired of having to explain to men how WRONG, insensitive, disrespectful and outright cruel it is to catcall/sexually harass us. I’m tired of having to explain to woman how wrong and ignorant it is for them to think it’s okay or it’s “just what men do”.
This issue is not a female problem, it’s a people problem. We all need to make it a priority to demolish these misogynistic acts. WE have a lot of work to do people. #catsagainstcatcalling
Final Thoughts: Check out one of my favorite apparel shops, FeministApparel. They sell awesome designs that are centered around feminism. My recommendation is their ‘cats against catcalling’ shirt.
Check it out here: Best Shirt Ever!
(Here’s a photo just because I think it speaks to me and most of the girls who helped me write this post. THANK YOU for everything, I owe you ladies pizza <3)