I was actually catcalled the other day at SeaWorld. I was proud of myself because I believe that I handled the satiation pretty well. I did face the offensive male, prop my hand on my hip, and question, “Really?”
I have been spared this type of behavior for quite a long time. I believe that this can be primarily explained by the fact that I usually have at least one of my children in tow and I tend to keep to extremely safe areas because I am a mom.
When the incident happened, I had left my kids seated at a show and run to get a cup of coffee. It was dark, my hair is blonde and it was in a ponytail. I can imagine that the young man seriously misjudged my age when he chose to call me out from the crowd.
When I told my husband about my brave rebuttal, he was in no way impressed. I tried to explain to him how difficult it is for women to stand up for ourselves in the face of this sort of verbal assault, because any rebuttal to a catcall can bring violence upon the woman attempting to defend herself.
My husband just did not get it. We have had conversations about feminism before and yet we still have not found a way to completely communicate our deeply rooted feelings on the matter to one another. He still believes that a catcall is a harmless gesture.
I have tried to put myself in his frame of mind while reconsidering the incident. I try to imagine him young and very short for his age, handling the sort of rejection that I dealt out to that young man, and the shame that he would likely endure in front of his friends because of my rejection.
I can understand how my husband has empathy for that young man; I do get it. Yet, I fail to understand how making any other choice in the face of that situation would have set well with my conscience. I believe that we must put our feet down collectively and socially condemn the practice of calling strangers out in a sexual manner.
The young man said to me, “How you dooin’?” While saying the words his eyes blatantly and rudely explored my body. In no manner is this behavior akin to walking up to someone and saying hello in an attempt to get to know them. It is a verbal assault, and it frightens women, period.
Luckily for me, when this happened, I was in an incredibly safe environment with tons of security around, and that was the precise reason that I had the courage to stand up to the young man. Many women have to tuck in their tails and keep walking, and hope that the man assaulting them will leave them alone.
Men catcall women primarily impress their male companions. Frightening a woman walking alone in public and then laughing about it with a few buddies is not socially acceptable behavior. It is bullying, it can lead to more aggressive behavior towards women, and no man should encourage another male to participate in the behavior, ever.
One of my friend’s teenaged daughters was sexually assaulted just earlier today. She is only a fifteen-year-old girl and she was forced behind a building by a boy her own age. Thank the gods, she was able to fight her way away from this young man, but then again, her father figure is a police officer and she is far more equipped to defend herself than most of the girls her age.
We raise rapists in our country. It is happening every day, and until we are all able, each and every one of us, to address misogynistic behavior every single time that we see it happening, things are not going to change.
We have a hell of a long way to go. I am a very good communicator, and I still have not managed to help my own husband understand how destructive a simple thing like a catcall can be to the female population in general. We desperately need more passionate people to get involved in championing gender equality, and we absolutely must face the reality that it simply does not exist in our society.