“cat·callˈkatˌkôl/verb gerund or present participle: catcalling
A loud, sexually suggestive call or comment directed at someone publicly (as on the street)” – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Jaws clenched. Look straight ahead. Don’t look back. Keep looking forward. Pretend to stay calm. Breathe.
Angry. Annoyed. Disgusted. Nervous. Scared.
Viva la France! France is the first country to criminalize catcalling. Men who transgress the law will receive a spot fine. When asked about the difference between harassment and flirtation, French Minister Marlene Schiappa replied “we know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street.” Schiappa gave examples that cross the line such as when a man invades a woman’s personal space – “by talking to you 10, 20 centimetres from your face” – or follows a woman for several blocks, or “asks for your number 17 times.”
Catcalling is problematic. Society expects women to endure this insidious daily occurrence.
Catcalls are directive: Smile more! Come talk to me! – It is indicative of entitlement, that men should impose their opinions and actions on women.
It is embarrassing for women to receive unwanted attention. Again it is not a compliment but unwanted attention and sexual advances. Women should feel free to move without fear or anxiety of unwanted advances.
It is dehumanising. Of course attraction is a human reaction however catcalling crosses the line because it objectifies women. It disregards her comfort, humanity and respect.
This disempowering daily occurrence is a form of sexual harassment. It is not a compliment. Women are entitled to walk, job and go about their activities in peace. All public spaces should be safe spaces for women and girls.