To The Guys Who Catcall Women: Just Stop

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Hey, every male who has catcalled or considered catcalling a woman: Do us (and yourselves) a solid and seriously rethink your method of approach.

First of all, it’s not working. I am a woman, and I know lots of other women. Hundreds, probably. Yet I have never once heard one of them say, “I was on my way to work minding my own business when this guy yelled out ‘Wassup, baby?’ and I was so flattered and uncontrollably turned on that I just let him bone me because I absolutely couldn’t resist.”

Perhaps it worked for you once in high school or something? Or maybe you’ve heard some sort of urban legend from the buddy of a dude you used to work with — likely embellished, as stories of sexual conquests nearly always are? The point is, you should take it from us, the foremost authorities on women: There is nothing we enjoy about being catcalled. In fact, it’s offensive as hell.

What’s that you say? They’re just harmless compliments?

A compliment is, say, telling your server at a restaurant that she did a fantastic job (and then backing that up with a fat tip). A compliment is made with genuine admiration, and here’s the most important distinction: respect. Even if what you’re saying isn’t a crude remark about the female anatomy, it’s still harmful.

Maybe in your mind, saying “Hey, beautiful,” or telling us to smile more is vastly better than saying something like, “Nice tits.” But catcalling is still harassment, no matter what kind of a pretty bow you try to put on the packaging. The words themselves don’t have to be nasty. It’s the delivery — uninvited, thrown suddenly upon us like a bucket of cold water, thrust in our direction (sort of like your hips).

And no matter how kind or complimentary you think you sound, we know what you’re really saying: “I want to fuck you, but not enough to try going about it in a way that takes one iota of effort or respect or consent.”

You’re not really interested in us. Not as people, anyway. You don’t care if we’re married, or heartbroken, or grieving, or mothers, or cancer patients, or gay, or reality TV fans, or gardening aficionados. You don’t care where we’re heading or what kind of day we’re having. We are devalued. Your comments reduce us to objects. We are well aware that we’re being seen not as fellow sentient human beings, but as walking vaginas, useful in your eyes for one purpose only — and it ain’t childbirth.

We feel uncomfortable, sure. But moreover, we feel unsafe. How do we know that your words won’t escalate into something else? If you feel perfectly okay with hurling verbal harassment in our direction, who’s to say you wouldn’t cross the line into the physical? You may think we’re overreacting, and I’m sure it’s difficult to see things from our vantage point. After all, men aren’t typically the ones who have to carry pepper spray and worry about walking down the street after dark. But if the feeling of being prey were more a part of your everyday mentality, the way it’s a part of ours, you might understand.

We’re not asking for it, not ever, no matter what we wear. Maybe we’re wearing heels because they make us feel powerful and confident. Maybe we’re wearing bright lipstick because that particular shade of red makes us happy. Maybe we’re wearing a tank top because it’s hot. Maybe we’re wearing leggings because they’re fucking comfortable. But when it comes down to it, our wardrobe choices don’t matter. We could leave the house in a puffy snowsuit or burlap sack and still be subjected to the same treatment, because to those of you who are doing this, vaginas are still vaginas whether they’re clad in a G-string or granny panties.

Why don’t we just ignore it? Well, first and foremost, we shouldn’t have to. But when we do, when we keep walking and pretend you didn’t just publicly embarrass us, we’re at risk of incurring just the opposite of a compliment: You might scream after us that we’re ugly, or that we’re lucky you even glanced in our direction, or call us “bitch” or “ho” or some other vulgarity that exposes those “compliments” for what they really are.

This is not only happening to a small, select group of super attractive women. This is happening to nearly everyone who has ever had the audacity to simply be a female in public. How does it feel to know that your mother, your sister, your niece, and your daughter has probably been, or likely will be, the target of these “compliments?” Some of us are catcalled before we even reach our teen years. Perfectly acceptable, right? They’re just words, yeah?


Catcalling is a violation of our boundaries, an attempt to assert your dominance over the “weaker” sex. You demean us under the guise of telling us we’re attractive, hoping (against hope, I might add) that we’re gullible or insecure enough to become a quick and greasy outlet to satisfy your sexual urges, because to you, that’s all that matters — not our feelings or our well-being or anything about us at all. You wanna feel manly? Grow a beard. Buy a flannel. Become a feminist.

Wanting to get from point A to point B uninterrupted, just like you, is not too much to ask.

So the next time you open your mouth to holler at the hot chick making her way across the parking lot of the grocery store, please reconsider, because it will get you nowhere and piss her off.

Instead, try something revolutionary, like, I don’t know, flashing her a smile. But I’m 100% sure of one thing: If you truly want to get to know somebody — with the chance of intimacy far down the road, if she deems you worthy — then catcalling is no way to approach a woman.

No ifs, ands, or “nice butt”s about it.

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