Ask almost any woman you know—a short walk in the streets at night or their daily commute has probably given them their fair share of unwanted attention from the opposite sex. For those of you who are still a little confused about the topic, catcalling isn’t meant to flatter you; it is a form of objectification and an invasion of space. Given that our current president isn’t the best example of a gentleman, it isn’t surprising that some males—and sadly, some females as well—find no harm in the derogatory statements being said to women on a daily basis. After all, this is a president who has joked about gang rape and has put the country’s vice president on the spot for wearing a skirt that simply revealed her knees.
Instead of coming in the form of a compliment that can brighten your day, being catcalled has nothing to do with respect. It is important to note that it isn’t completely harmless like some people say it is, as it can lead women to feel reduced to a mere sexual object.
Unfortunately, the blame—as well as the responsibility to avoid being catcalled—is often placed solely on women. To this day, my parents sometimes warn me not to wear anything too revealing (or remind me to bring a jacket, at least) when I’m about to enjoy a night out. While I understand their protective intentions, I feel that it is unfair to limit a woman’s self-expression and right to dress as she pleases due to potential creeps who lurk around the metro. A nice-looking top that subtly shows a little skin automatically becomes too skimpy for men to handle. Instead of trying to correct the actions of these catcallers, society would much rather condemn me for mine.
We are creating a society in which we blame women for the unwanted attention that is thrown their way. Suddenly, it is their fault for being too “attractive,” causing men to be unable to contain their comments or actions. Aside from this, the reactions to being catcalled is being criticized as well, with people going back to the same old retort: to stop being so sensitive.
In one part of her award-winning collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison laments over the fact that women considered too sensitive for expressing pain. In her essay entitled “The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” she mentions a 2001 study called “The Girl Who Cried Pain,” where it was discovered that men are more likely than women to be given medication when they report pain to their doctors. The women, on the other hand, are more likely to be given sedatives.
This finding alone—that women who report pain are taken less seriously—is quite alarming. Although I’m sure most females have experienced being taken for granted for being “too emotional.” I myself have experienced my feelings being disregarded as PMS. While I am aware that I can get slightly moodier before my period, it still doesn’t mean that what I felt wasn’t real. Come to think of it, this is similar to assuming that all males think with their penises.
Perhaps all we need from both sexes is a little more empathy. Another thing we should remember is to raise decent men as well, rather than just correcting the actions and reactions of women. With the way our society seems to function right now, there still is a lot of room for change.