[Cat-calling] reassures men of their sexual power and at the same moment denies any sexuality of women other than the male construction.
Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves.
Berger, John. (1972): Ways of Seeing
Men yelling out windows of their cars and honking as we crossed the street. One car drove by holding down their horn down and it truly scared us. It’s not okay, it really isn’t. It’s no fucking wonder we are so god damn scared to leave our houses. It doesn’t make us feel good or attractive or more worthy because we got the attention of a man, it makes us feel unsafe and exposed.
My male friends always ask “why are there always more men out on the streets than women?”
I’ve never faced catcalling this grotesque. Every once in awhile in some places, I’ll get a whistle or a beeping horn. And my immediate reaction, for the most part, is a “Hey. That feels kind of nice.”
That lasts for about a split second.
Because then my next thought is “Wait — are they going to follow up on that? Do I need to protect myself? Is there anyone around me paying attention? Is the street well-lit enough, is there a public place I can slip into, am I within reaching distance of the person who made the noise, can I run if I have to?”
It isn’t a matter of overthinking things. It’s the fact that, if someone DID get aggressive, it might well be overlooked by passers-by — IF there’s anyone around. My mother raised me on many useful, meaningful, worthwhile ideas, and with some that were cautious or cynical but true in many cases:
The only person looking out for you is you.
If you’re a woman in these situations, that often seems to be the case until (or even) after the fact.
For the last two years in DC I have not been cat called. It’s refreshing. The DAR convention is 2,000 women, at least 300 of whom are under that are always dressed to page. In the evenings, we wear formals, and on the short walk over the ellipse the girls I walk with and I have only ever received genuine compliments. Even when I’ve been out doing a touristy thing, I’ve been left alone in DC.
But in my hometown, I’ve been catcalled in the Walmart parking lot.