“Beautiful”, “sweetheart, “cutie” seem like harmless words, even complimentary words that anyone would be happy and flattered to receive. Coupled with a whistle or a demeaning looks, these words feel uncomfortable to hear from a stranger while you go about your day walking down the streets. I would always be creeped out as if I’m crawling out of my skin every time a stranger would try to get my attention with what seems to be a distasteful method known as catcalling.
It objectifies women
Most catcallers would justify their deeds by pointing out that women won’t dress up, put makeup, and style their hair if they didn’t want to be “complimented”. Women dress themselves for themselves. A confidence boost isn’t something any woman would get out of a stranger yelling at her from across the street.
It makes women feel unsafe
When one a so-called compliment seems aggressive and often rude, a woman feels unsafe and harassed. Catcalling is often bundled up with rudeness and an aggressive stance towards the receiver. Groping or stalking or simply standing too close without a woman’s permission shows entitlement to her space.
It removes a woman’s voice
I’ve had many a times when I would like to call out a catcaller who would try to “compliment” me. But more often than not I would found myself voiceless, scared that my calling out would result to a much worse form of harassment. Catcalling removes a woman’s voice, leaving her silent and has no other choice than to flee and ignore the verbal harassments she was exposed to.
So, men can’t compliment a woman EVER?
The answer is of course men still can give women compliments! But keep in mind that there are far better ways than catcalling. Besides, I doubt there are legit relationships that start with catcalling.
Natalie Cortes as written in her article, “Catcalling is not a Compliment”, listed ways to compliment women while making them feel at ease:
- Ask permission. Just politely get her attention–maybe by smiling or saying “hi” while still leaving a safe distance between you–and make sure she’s interested in talking to you first.
- Know when to stop. If she barely responds to you or leaves her headphones on, assume she’s not interested and leave her alone.
- Be polite and genuine. Talking about how my ass looks in the skirt I’m wearing is considered harassment and not at all flattering by many women.
- Don’t expect anything in return. Don’t expect us to keep talking to you–we have places to be.
- Listen to our experiences and accept them as our truth. If we say we aren’t flattered, believe that we aren’t.
Catcalling is not synonymous to complimenting and whether a woman dress a certain way doesn’t give anyone any right to violate and harass her. Being aggressive is highly unlikely to result in a woman giving you positive attention even if you feel a genuine interest in knowing her.
Think about the women in your lives, should they get “thick skinned” and gulp down the so-called compliments they receive while walking down the streets? Of course, not. In an ideal world where everything is perfect, a woman (or anyone, for that matter) can walk down the streets without the fear of being harassed. But such is life and a world where we could walk down the streets without anyone giving us any demeaning look and uncalled for catcalls do not exist until we take a stand.