According to google, a catcall is a verb, “to make a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.”
This entry is going to be a lot different than my usual, kind of more in a poetic type theme. But, just words I feel like need to be said. outloud.
She that girl over there? Her name is Natalie* otherwise known as “damn girl” and she was was just trying to go for a jog when his group of friends drove past. Maybe, they took a snapchat video or whistled too. Do you think she felt complimented? Or laughed like it was funny? Do you think this is how you get women’s attention? No. Now she is afraid to go running alone.
What about her friend Emma*? Otherwise known as “pretty girl.” Emma was just walking home from school when these two words hit her like knives. As the landscapers whistle and wink driving past, calling her pretty girl- when coming from a stranger, words meant to be compliments start to sound like bullets. She hates being called “pretty” because she heard it every Thursday walking home from school and she can’t explain to her boyfriend why she cringes whenever he calls her his pretty girl.
What about those two? That is Grace* and Jacquelyn* otherwise known as “nice ass” and “great rack.” These two girls used to take pride in their fitness habits, constantly going to the gym to better themselves, make themselves stronger, making themselves proud of who they see when they look in the mirror. But, now they are afraid that is all people see – their bodies. Now compliments about their bodies cause them to devalue their personalities. Does anyone want to get to know them because Grace is good at writing music and Jacquelyn is a good athlete? Does anyone see what is beneath their skin?
What about Andrea*? She is walking to the bus in the rain when you leaned out your car: spit, winked, and whistled at her. She now walks with her head down, always looking at her feet, walking fast to get where she needs to go. She doesn’t want to hear the echo of your words or to see the replays of your body language playing over in her head as she walks alone. She no longer feels safe alone.
That girl walking her dog, her name is Annie* and that thing in her hand is mace. You called her “sweetie” when she was 14 and taking her dog for a walk. “Sweetie what kind of dog is this?” “Can I pet her? She looks as sweet as you.” You reached for her hand before she started to run. She ran so fast she ended up blocks away from home. She no longer allows people to stop and pet her dog. The word “sweet” makes her stomach turn.
What about me, the girl writing this post? My name is Kelly. What about that day, you and your friends came into my work on your lunch break.? Tried getting me to “tell you stories of my experiences” and snapped a picture of me as I was bending over to sweep the floor? The time your friend called me “bonita” and winked at me…I never worked back in that department again. I constantly had my eyes surveying my surroundings to see if you would return. I felt uncomfortable going into my own work until I knew my boss made it clear you were unwelcome.
I thought compliments were supposed to make people feel good. Compliments are supposed to stand for appreciating someones qualities and letting them hold them with pride. But these men, they take compliments and use them like weapons. They try to make women objects. You want to objectify us, shove is in your pockets and use us as bragging rights. But yeah, carrying mace on a keychain, holding keys in our fists, and never walking alone are just overreactions…right? Your “compliments” have the ability to take over who we are. Your “compliments” hit us like bullets. If you knew your compliments sounded like threats: would you still say them? If you knew your body language was enough to make us fall to our knees crying, would you still do them? Is this all just a funny game to you? If you knew that whenever a certain color truck drives past, that girl walks the opposite direction and keeps 911 dialed on her phone, in case this time your catcall turns into something more- would that make it stop?
So….What will make it stop?
copyrights cc: Michelle McGlinn
Thanks for being my model for this post.