“Excuse Me Miss”- Street harassment and cat calling

Braiden Wade—

Introduction

A woman pulls up to the gas station, gets out of the car, and starts pumping her gas. The woman, trying her hardest to look unapproachable, hears a man say from afar,  “You too pretty to be frowning, smile for me.” The woman ignores him, “Damn B****, can’t get no response.” The man continues to insult her as she drives away. This is the sad reality that women face daily: unwanted attention, insults escalating to assault, and/or often traumatic experiences as a whole. As a man, I personally don’t experience these things, but I want to shed light on the topic of catcalling and how it affects people; especially women in our generation. 

“Your chest looks heavy, let me hold some of that weight.”

– Desani Ambrose, 18, Chicago, Illinois

How often are you catcalled?

All the time. It’s usually small subtle comments but every once in a while there’s some outrageous comments.

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

It kind of angers me. It’s like why can’t women just simply live…as women. We are often hyper sexualized for no reason at all.

What’s the worst thing you’ve heard?

“Yo chest look heavy, let me hold some of that weight.”

Why do men catcall?

I think it’s more of a superiority thing. A lot of men believe they are above women and therefore can do/say anything they want.

Does it often escalate into them following you or anything?

Sometimes it does when they’re really…weird but normally it doesn’t.

I could go at least 10 rounds with you baby, oh is that your twin? 5 each.”

-Ashtin Holman, 18, Kansas City, Missouri

How often are you catcalled?

I would say the frequency in which I’m catcalled is primarily dependent on location more than anything else — but overall I’d say pretty regularly. After visiting a big city, such as Miami, it’s very often — easily 25 times per night. In a smaller city like KC it would be more occasional — about half or so in comparison. And in the suburbs it’s pretty much rare unless some high school boys get confident.

How do you feel about catcalling?

I definitely have more positive feelings (and experiences) on being catcalled than adverse. I think it’s nice to be complimented and, to be complimented so boldly, gives me an instant confidence boost. Of course if a guy says something inappropriate or is harassing then that changes the narrative completely but, aside from that, it’s appreciated.

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

My reaction to being catcalled is typically smiling, nodding in acknowledgment, and moving right along. I don’t make it a point to chit chat or anything though — unless the feeling is mutual and safe.

So how often is it something inappropriate?

I would say about 35% of the time. I think it’s all really subjective to what a person tolerates but, for me, fewer people have crossed boundaries like that.

That definitely brought a different perspective because most of my female friends bring up that most catcalls they don’t like, even if they are positive. What’s the worst one you’ve heard or possibly the most positive one?

I would say one of the worst catcalls I’ve gotten would be: “I could go at least 10 rounds with you baby. — Oh is that your twin? 5 each.”  And one of the most positive ones was: “I would love to take you home to my mama ‘cause you’ve gotta be the one I put a ring on.” I know — when it comes to twins people lose all their inhibitions. Second one was like ‘awww, best know I’m the wifey type.’

“Let me talk to you “- Empress Usanga, 18, St.Louis Missouri

How often are you catcalled?

I’m catcalled any time I walk alone.

How do you feel about catcalling?

Honestly, for me it’s the way the person chooses to go about it. Catcalling is usually disrespectful and sexual and I feel as if the people who were catcalling didn’t do it in such a creepy manner it wouldn’t be a problem.

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

My first reaction is usually to ignore them, flip them off, or make an ugly face.

Why do men catcall you?

I think men catcall me because they don’t know how to properly approach someone they are interested in. Approaching me would require confidence and respect. Catcalling is cowardice. 

So how often is it something inappropriate? 

It’s always inappropriate and sexual.

What’s the worse one you’ve heard or experienced? 

My worst experience when being catcalled would have to be when I was walking to the store and a man trying to get my attention from the inside of his car.  I ignored him and he started yelling at me demanding that I came to his car.

Does it often escalate into them following you or anything? 

I have only been followed afterwards twice, I usually try to get away and [get] around as many people as possible after being catcalled so that it doesn’t escalate.

“I’ll put a baby in you right now”

 -Alana Hayes, 18, Memphis, Tennessee

How often are you catcalled?

I’m not catcalled all the time, but it’s frequent. 

How do you feel about catcalling?

There’s a lot of mixed feelings for me when it comes to catcalling. It can be scary, good for your confidence, but it’s mostly just nerve wracking cause I don’t like aggressive people. 

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

I typically don’t know how to respond besides feeling awkward and potentially a little scared. 

Why do men catcall?

I most definitely think it’s a confidence thing, but a cocky confidence. It’s “oh, I know I could have her if I want,” type of thing. 

So how often is it something inappropriate?

Almost all of the time it has been inappropriate. 

What’s the worse one you’ve heard or possibly most positive one?

“You just need a real n***a like me to loosen you up,” or “I’ll put a baby in you right now,” are definitely the worst. The most positive thing is when this guy told me he liked my hair.

Does it often escalate into them following you or anything?

Yes. I was leaving my internship once, and this grown man followed me all the way from the building to my car.

“I bet you look good under that skirt” -Nyla Green, 18, St.Louis, Missouri

How often are you catcalled?

I have been catcalled since puberty. Nowadays, anytime I wear something that is a little more revealing than usual, like crop tops, skirts, shorts and dresses, men catcall. It has become part of my day-to-day life and keeps me from wearing things I feel confident in.

How do you feel about catcalling?

I don’t like it. I hate it. 

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

When I am catcalled my whole mood changes. I walk away quickly or completely ignore the person in hopes they would stop. I remember hanging out with my friends at the Delmar Loop and a guy said “I bet you look good under that skirt.” After that I wished I did not wear the outfit I felt confident in. I felt disgusted and wanted to go home. It’s sad women can’t feel comfortable in their own skin after years of insecurity and low self esteem.

Why do men catcall you?

That is a good question. I really don’t know. Men have different motives, but they have the same drive toward sex and sexual desires towards women. All throughout media and society, the world sexualizes women and makes their bodies seem like toys for men to play with and enjoy. Men may get the idea that women want to be told their bodies fit their standards of beauty because of the way women are portrayed in the media. They could not be more wrong.

So how often is it something inappropriate? 

I feel like when a guy says “ hey beautiful” it has a positive intention rather than “nice rack sexy.” Most times, they are inappropriate and aimed toward a part of my body, but sometimes they are harmless compliments.

What’s the worse one you’ve heard or possibly most positive one? 

When I was 15, I got my first job working at Six Flags. With that job we had to wear blue collared shirts and khaki shorts that touched my knees. At the bus stop, I waited for my ride to pick me up and when I was walking towards a bench at ten o’clock at night, a black car pulled close. He said “Hey sexy, you want to work for me tonight?” I was alone and frightened. I ran as fast as I could to try and escape his view. I knew there was a chance I could have been kidnapped and sold into prostitution.

Does it often escalate into them following you or anything? 

No, I don’t believe so. I try to escape the situations before they escalate.

“Damn ma I’d love to take all them clothes off”

-Raevyn Ferguson, 19, Columbia, Missouri

How often are you catcalled?

Most times that I go out.

How do you feel on the topic of being catcalled?

I think catcalling has ill intent. Never has someone who has catcalled me led me to want to pursue [them].

What’s your reaction to being catcalled?

I try to ignore it as much as possible.

Why do men catcall you?

I can’t tell you why. Maybe to feel better about themselves?

So how often is it something inappropriate? 

Inappropriate isn’t as often, but it’s often in poor taste.

What’s the worse one you’ve heard or possibly most positive one? 

The worst one was “damn ma I’d love to take all them clothes off.” The most positive was prolly’, “I just wanted you to know that you have one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen, queen.”

Does it often escalate into them following you or anything? 

Often not. 

Conclusion 

Hopefully after reading through these women’s experiences, you’re more aware of what goes on around you. Catcalling when done inappropriately can potentially leave someone scarred or traumatized for the rest of their life. On the other hand, some women will gain a confidence boost from catcalling. It all depends on how the individual woman perceives someone catcalling them: some see it as street harassment and others see it as a compliment. This article is purely based on experiences and perceptions of others with catcalling. Thank you for reading. 

Photo credit to Braiden Wade.

One thought on ““Excuse Me Miss”- Street harassment and cat calling

  1. This is a good case study lesson right here. Keep up the good work. I hope more men get to see this nd learn of the negative impact they are making when their speech are inappropriate. As a man I rather give a good compliment when it is deserve. It is important for men to try and see beyond a sexual figure and remember we can gain respect from the words that comes from our mouth.

    Like

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