Don't Catcall Me

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 
DmitriMaruta / iStock

It’s a familiar scene played out near construction sites all across the country: A strong, confident woman walks by a group of workers only to hear a litany of whistles, catcalls, and comments about her appearance. She is then left to make a split-second decision as to how to respond.

Does she give them the finger and tell them to go screw? Does she flip her hair and sashay away so they can enjoy the view as she walks away? Or, does she stop, lock eyes with her admirer, languidly walk over to him, stroke his beefcake muscles, and say, “Hey, big boy, you wanna? I’m game if you are, sweet cheeks”? My guess is that if she did call his bluff, that catcalling beefcake would clam up real quick, am I right?

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve seen some catcalling sent my way on occasion, and I have to admit, I’m confused by such a display. I have never understood the merit behind a man yelling compliments at a woman he’s never met. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t hang out with men who hoot like an owl when an independent woman walks within their view, but I always wonder what these men are expecting to accomplish exactly with their childish attempt at attention. Do they think that when I hear their whistle of appreciation I’ll get hot and horny and beg them to release me of my sexual tension?

Because, uh, no effing way, dudes.

I have a pretty confident personality, and as such, I don’t need to hear validation in the form of a whistle from some random man on the street who thinks my legs “look fine, mama.” Yes, I know how great my legs look, thank you very much. I’ve spent about 900 hours on a bike to nowhere in spin class to get them to look this strong and able, mister.

Usually, when a man tries to get my attention, I’m struck with the urge to remind my stranger suitor that I can and will kick his catcalling ass if he licks his lips at me in that way again. But then, that wouldn’t be very ladylike, now would it?

As I walked down the streets of New York City with my 9-year-old recently, I was disgusted to see several men wink, lick their lips, or call out their appreciation for my physical attributes as I walked by. A stranger gentleman in Starbucks even offered to “buy me more than just a cup of coffee, if you know what I mean, sweetie pie.” I’m guessing he didn’t mean that he’d spring for that giant Rice Krispies treat in the display case, but I can’t be sure. And when I looked at him and told him to back off, with my daughter’s hazel eyes watching me, wide-eyed, he was relentless with his pursuit. He muttered, “I was just trying to be nice, baby,” and I instantly went Janet Jackson on his unsuspecting ass. I was nasty all right, but not in the ways he’d hoped when he first opened his mouth.

Everywhere women go, we are besieged with comments about our appearance. Whether it’s a whistle because a man likes the cleavage a woman is displaying or a jerk with a disparaging remark about the junk in a mom’s trunk, women are forced to endure on the spot objectification and degradation of their bodies. It’s disgusting, and guys, if you are reading: Catcalling is the least likely action that will get a woman to ravage your probably small penises. We don’t like catcalling, whistling, or hooting so just stop it right now, OK?

Perhaps my least favorite show of appreciation from male strangers is when I’m on a run. I’m usually in the zone, listening to music, and trying to avoid getting mowed over by drivers who hate runners (you know who you are, haters). When a man I don’t know honks and gestures lasciviously, it knocks my concentration off-kilter, and suddenly, my run is dangerous. I wind up stopping on the side of the road with a bewildered, “Who, me?” look on my face and I have to pray that I don’t get creamed by a granny with a lead foot as I get my head back in the game.

So, guys, while I can appreciate that the sight of a female runner’s tight, Lycra-covered ass has brought you to such a frenzy that you have to honk your arousal at us, please understand that it only causes us to jump in a ditch because we think we are about to get hit by a car. I can promise you that when I give you the finger as you drive away, it’s definitely not to be construed as an open invitation to my bedroom.

One of these days, I really will call a catcaller’s bluff. And when I do, I’m going to press my pendulous mom funbags right next to his sweaty work clothes, and I’m going to whisper in his ear, “You know what really makes me horny, sweet cheeks? The thought of you emptying my dishwasher and folding my laundry. Come on, let’s go, hot stuff, my toilets aren’t going to clean themselves.”

That’s my version of talking dirty, gentlemen.

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