An Open Letter To Men Who Catcall

Although catcalling is almost a social norm at this point, it doesn't mean that it's okay. Here's an open letter to men who catcall, you need to know this information.

I don’t think catcalling is a compliment. I don’t think society should see screaming at women to be a norm that isn’t looked down upon. I’ve had two men tell me I look pretty in a kind way, I appreciated that. I’ve had a countless amount of men yell or scream at me what they perhaps think are compliments. They’re not.

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Why?

I just want to ask why. Why do you see me out with my friends and decide that the best thing to do is scream at me? What do you think is going to happen? You really think that I’ll want to have sex with you or give you my number if you yell obscenities at me? Yeah, not likely.

Maybe you’ll understand this

I want to share just a few of my catcalling experiences with you. Maybe you’ll see catcalling in a different light.

My best friend is taking me on a surprise birthday outing. It’s my 17th birthday, and a group of you, maybe four 24-year olds decides to yell at me and make me so overwhelming uncomfortable that I try to walk as quickly as possible away from you with my head held high so as to not look as terrified as I am.

I’m walking into the public library with my mom when a group of you make several comments. My mom pulls me into another room until they pass. She’s heard me talk about being catcalled, but seeing it happen to her daughter is different.

I have to go to Walgreens to buy band aids. I pass five of you, all at different points. One of you decides to get very close to me and follow me. I can hear you whispering your compliments a few inches away from my ear but I keep walking, not wanting to encourage you or piss you off. I go into Walgreens thankful that you’ll lose me here. You follow me in and through each aisle. I lose you a few times, but I keep seeing you peek around corners and finding me. You walk towards me while I look at the shelves and you stand right behind me. I can feel you. I keep walking away. After about 20 minutes I’ve lost you and can finally leave.

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It’s been three weeks since I’ve seen my best friend. This is a long time for us. She meets me outside a campus building where I was attending a meeting. We’re hugging, laughing, and shedding a few tears. I missed her so much, you have no idea. Our cute reunion is cut short because you yell at us and make us so uncomfortable we quickly run away even though we hadn’t planned where to eat lunch yet. We laugh it off.

I’m kissing a date goodbye in front of my dorm building; this is one of those cute movie moments. It’s a cool night and after an enjoyable few hours with him he walks me through the Boston Common. The city looks so pretty at night. We reach the front door and he pulls me back and kisses me. I smile into the kiss. It’s harshly interrupted by a car full of you, you scream several incredibly disturbing comments at me that I have never repeated out loud when telling this story. I get in bed replaying the scene over and over in my head. I still think about it.

It’s my first week of college, still orientation week. My roommate knows a cute bookstore nearby she wants to show me. I’m so excited to be in a city I love with a new friend. Just two minutes after stepping out of our dorm, we pass a group of you. One of you looks at me with a stare that made me anxiously cast my gaze to the ground. You don’t stop there. You step towards me, whispering that you hope to see me again and then grab my waist. I move away quickly, lucky enough to only feel your fingertips brush against my stomach.

It’s scary and degrading

I’ve been trying to figure out lately if men know how scared women are of them. I usually think of it a few times a week, since honestly the experiences I have had with men have in turn built up having a slight fear of them. When you catcall, you probably yell your comment, laugh, and move on with your day. For me however, this brief interaction doesn’t just leave my mind when I can no longer hear or see you. My anxiety is heightened, maybe for a few minutes or maybe for a few hours, depending on how aggressive you and your comment were.

You’re training me to believe my self worth comes from my body

Do you realize how deep of an effect your catcalling has on me? When you’re getting catcalled on the way to class, to work, to the store, to the local coffee shop, you’re constantly aware of your body. It’s engraved in my mind that you noticed me because of my body. Instead of making me feel confident, it just makes me think my body is all men care about. It doesn’t even matter if I’m wearing something revealing or not. I’ve gotten catcalled while wearing a winter coat, while wearing a short skirt, while wearing jeans, and while wearing a hoodie. Hey, at least you don’t discriminate.

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Don’t know if this letter applies to you?

If you answer any of these questions, it applies to you!

1) Do you yell or scream at women?

2) Do you try to grab/touch women you don’t know?

3) Do you stare at women you don’t know in an uneasy manner?

4) Do you find yourself making obscene comments about a random woman’s body?

5) Do you tell women you don’t know what you’d like to do to her?

6) Do women flinch or ignore you when you speak to them?

I’m nearly positive you must have at least one woman in your life you care about. A mother, sister, cousin, aunt, daughter, wife, grandmother, teacher, etc. Picture them reacting to some of the comments you’ve recklessly thrown at me. I’m sure they won’t be impressed.

You’ve all managed to make me so unsafe and uncomfortable just going outside that I told my mom I need to get self-defense training. I’ve been lucky so far but I don’t think that luck will stay with me forever. My friends carry their keys in their hands when we go out. It’s not much but it gives us a very subtle sense of safety to know we’ll have some self-defense if you lunge at us. We’re not allowed to have pepper spray on campus but we carry it. We’d rather get reprimanded by school then be attacked by a man.

I flinch when men walk by me. I cower in fear. Women do not exist for YOUR satisfaction. Please think about how much your day would change and how you would feel if everyone you left your house you inevitably were screamed at by grown men.

Make a change in your life if any of the situations I provided are familiar to you. If you want to compliment a woman, then go for it, just do it in an appropriate and respectful way. Don’t shout. Tell her she’s pretty or attractive or she has a nice smile. DO NOT cat call and make lewd sexual comments. It’s easy, I swear.

Sincerely,

A 19-year-old girl who has had too many sexual comments screamed at her and has now developed a fear of men she does not know. This is what happens when you catcall.

Have anything to say to men who catcall? Tell us in the comments!
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