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Show catcalling the red card5 min read

Next week, on 8th March, is the International Women’s Day.
We recently came across a story that happened in London, that shows some serious disrespect towards women and that we felt compelled to write about. It’s about making inappropriate (often sexual) comments at random women. It is known as catcalling.
While not being the worst that women have to face in this world, it is a daily occurrence that goes from the not-so-malicious comments to sexual harassment. In a city like London (or anywhere else), this should simply not happen.
Londoners like to see themselves as advanced and civilised, but yet it’s 2017 and countless women have to deal with the negative effects of catcalling on a daily basis. Things need to change and we will show you how.

What are the different types of catcalling

Catcalling is shown in different ways. It can be a whistle, a ‘friendly’ compliment (‘hey beautiful’), a predatory compliment (‘are you wearing a bra?’) etc.

What are the effects of catcalling

All the different types of catcalling have something in common: they make women feel uncomfortable or scared which is the last thing any decent man should want.
It’s very unsettling for women because they don’t know who is just having a laugh or tries to seduce (even though that approach seriously lacks social skills) and who is a real nut job and might do something harmful to them.

Moreover, catcalling can affect women in different ways. For example, it can change the way they live, the way they dress and even the areas they visit!
Who wants to see areas of London that are women-starved?!

If you think shouting “hey, sexy” across the street boosts a woman’s self-esteem… think again!

How do women respond to catcalling

In most cases, women decide to simply ignore the problem. One of the reasons for this is safety. Often, they don’t want to engage in any way with the men who do that for fear of violence or fear that it would increase the intensity of the abuse.
But different women respond in different ways. Some talk politely to those men, some yell at them, some throw ice cream at them (not recommended), others insult them, or stare at them to make them feel uncomfortable, others come up with something smart to make them feel ridiculous etc.
We can see that the responses in real life are varied.
The way most women wish they could respond to catcallers (= not in real life) is pretty unanimous: very often they wish they could hit them in the nuts. Ouch!! Although we are peaceful we do see their point…

Some advice…

A good piece of advice is to judge the situation before you act on what you wish you could do to these men. So you need to ask yourself a few questions: are there other people around you? Is it a dark and isolated place? Do the men who engaged in catcalling seem aggressive or not? Are they in a group? Etc.
Depending on different criteria you will have to decide which action to take. But remember it’s important to assess the situation and the person(s). In other words, assess the level of threat quickly before doing or saying anything.
For example: ignoring them might be tempting but this is not a blanket rule you should always apply. Sometimes, you will be safer if you reply something little and mundane like “thank you for the compliment but am in the rush and got to go. I wish you guys a good day”. This could take them by surprise and help diffuse any tension. Many of these men might say those uncomfortable things but they are not necessarily evil so this could help you make it home safely.

Not suitable for all circumstances, but using humour could help. Have a look at this:

What is the ultimate solution

There is no ultimate solution. The best one might be education. To educate men that this is not acceptable and explain to them how it makes women feel.
And educate women to let them know that this is not acceptable and also that unfortunately, many other women suffer from this but that they don’t have to suffer in silence. This might give women a bit more strength and the willingness to combat this injustice.
If you feel like legally fighting this sad state of affair, know that in London, there is the Hollaback movement that was created in 2010.
In their own words, Hollaback is a movement to end harassment in public spaces powered by local activists. You could join them to help change attitudes and behaviours.

It was pretty shocking to learn that women in a so called civilised city like London have to face abuses on a regular basis. They shouldn’t have to go through that.
But women need to understand that by helping change some men’s attitude this will help reduce the problem. So join a movement like Hollaback or create your own to make the streets of London a better place.

And men need to remember a few things….
Firstly, the women they harass are someone else’s mothers or sisters or daughters. And these women deserve respect.
And secondly, catcalling is disgusting and doesn’t work. No woman will jump in your arms because you said ‘hey beautiful, what’s your number?’. We have never heard that it worked in the past and probably never will. So these are good reasons not to do it!

Wouldn’t it be great if anyone could walk harassment-free in the streets of London?

Happy Women’s Day to All Women out there!

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