Catcalling is NOT a Compliment

Wow, this headline reads like something in the Reader’s Digest circa 1970, wedged between articles on why kids don’t appreciate waltzing anymore and how smoking marijuana cigarettes will cause your daughter to become a streetwalker: “Catcalling: creepy or a compliment?” (Via.) The article isn’t nearly so bad, and gives full voice to women who grasp that a man yelling sexual (and insulting or threatening) things at you on the sidewalk is insulting you for being a woman, not complimenting you.

But just like those articles of old from Schlaflyites (”I love getting hooted at on the street, and husbands have a right to rape wives!”), this one is full of women the reader is supposed to take cues from on how to be less of a grumpus pain in the ass who thinks she has dignity worth defending.
On the other hand, some women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy.
“Yeah, it’s objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn’t have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I’d think, ‘Boy, I must really be getting old and dumpy,’ ” she said.
She’s gotten catcalls just walking her parents’ dog in baggy sweats. “I thought it was hysterical, like, ‘Boy, doesn’t take much to impress you, does it?’ “
It’s true that they’ll do it to you no matter what you’re wearing, because it’s not a compliment. I can understand why this woman is deluding herself—it’s both flattering to imagine you’re so hot men are inspired to passion by the mere site of you and it also helps protect the brain from realizing how many men out there just really hate you—but I’m sure she’s not unaware of those times when the cat-calling occurs when there are no other people around and you find yourself grabbing for a weapon or your cell phone. Because it’s a threat in many cases, or at bare minimum a reminder to random women that the cat-caller feels entitled to control their experience of being outside the house.

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