If you’re a woman, and you’ve ever been to a metropolitan city even for one day, you’ve probably been catcalled. It doesn’t matter if you look like a model, or if you haven’t washed your hair in weeks, you’ve got no makeup on and are wearing a giant parka — catcalling doesn’t seem to discriminate. While many men (usually the ones most guilty of doing it) say we should stop complaining, because it’s just a form of flattery, we women who experience it daily know differently. It’s sexual harassment plain and simple, and despite the numerous catcalling videos and the progression of feminist movements like #heforshe, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
So how do we get through it? We work on becoming expert speed walkers, and of course, try to make jokes about it. As with anything that’s an unfortunate reality, it always feels better to know there are scores of women standing behind you feeling just as vulnerable, scared and pissed. As such, here’s what goes through my mind (and probably yours) when I’m being catcalled on the streets of New York City, aka the flagship city of catcalling.
1. Aaaand it starts
This is an eye-rolling moment because it’s 8:30 in the morning, and I’m in sweats headed to my local coffee shop. It’s a mere 20 paces from my apartment, so the fact that I can’t make it there and back without some harassing, male comment is mind-boggling.
2. Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away
You know, like when bullies taunt you. It sort of worked in middle school, so maybe it’ll work now? No? OK, well you can’t blame a girl for trying.
3. Should I start running?
There’s occasionally a moment where I feel physically threatened by catcallers, and am compelled to break into a dead run. That is not a thought one should have on a regular basis while just trying to get from point A to point B around the city, but it definitely happens.
More: I’m sick of explaining to my kids why men catcall me on the street
4. This is ridiculous — I’m going to say something
And sometimes my frustration is so great that I get the urge to make some sort of retort at these obviously immature, possibly dangerous males. Usually I can quell said urge until I’m out of earshot, but the fact that I feel like I can’t speak my mind when they are absolutely taking that liberty is infuriating.
5. How can I film these guys without them knowing it?
I’m a creative person, so part of me always wants to buy a secret camera and film my own catcalling videos for internet distribution. While it might not solve the problem, at least I’ll feel like I’ve gotten some retribution against a few offenders.
6. Why didn’t I sign up for that Krav Maga class?
Hey, you never know what sort of situation you might end up in, especially if you and a cat caller are the only two people on the street after hours.
7. Is there a way I could calmly explain to them why this is so offensive?
I’ve always been pretty good at mediating discussions, so a part of me genuinely believes I could get a catcaller to understand what he’s doing is wrong without getting mean about it. However, it’s usually a fleeting thought because if everyone reacted well when they were given constructive criticism, there wouldn’t be so many International conflicts.
8. I wonder if this would happen to me if I lived in Vermont?
Probably not. But this is still a reality of city life. That is until science invents magical webs you can shoot out your hands at offenders’ mouths to shut them up. Or all men become feminists, whichever comes first.