How to react to catcalling and street harassment
The other day, I walked past a group of boys. (Which, honestly, always makes me a bit nervous. Not because I necessarily think that they will harm me physically, but because I can already sense that they just f**ing need to comment something.) And off they went: HeyGorgeousWhyYouWearingAllBlackHeyHeyDontIgnoreMe etc. etc. Making kissing noises and what not. I was boiling inside. But I remained silent. I ignored them, as per usual. I find this is the safest and most powerful stance I can take. (Especially safest.)
But is ignoring really the best reaction to catcalling?
I arrived home furious and declared loudly and strongly to my boyfriend (the only person I declare things loudly and strongly to) that I ain't gonna take this, any more. I WILL call them out next time. This is outrageous. How does it even occur to boys that this is an okay behavior?
And I hate it and I hate myself that, despite all that boiling rage I feel inside me, I know I'm not going to call them out. I wish I was brave enough. I wish calling them out would not put me in physical danger. But it does. Especially after dark. Especially if it's a group of boys.
So, how should we girls react to catcalling?
Well, first of all: don't smile. When I was younger, I felt I had to smile when some random guy in the street called me "pretty". I thought that's how I was supposed to react. But then I realised that being called all sorts of things - even if they were "nice things" - didn't feel good to me. I started to feel uncomfortable knowing that boys could just comment on my appearance any time and as they pleased. Like I was a public object anyone could just utter his opinion on. It started to feel like harassment.
The safest thing is to just ignore catcallers. If girls don't direct their attention and energy towards that kind of behavior, boys might get bored and they might just stop. Or they might think she's a bitch. I'm not so sure about the ignoring thing, any more. (I mean, I am sure about it if I'm walking alone in the street at night because, like, I want to live and stuff.) But if I feel it's a safe environment, a busy street, maybe I'm with someone myself. Hell, why not?...
...CALL THOSE MOFOS OUT! No, you're not overreacting. No, you're not hysterical. No, you're not a bitch. (These are all female stereotypes women have been fighting against for ages!) Your reaction is totally appropriate. Street harassment is NOT OKAY. It might seem small and stupid and yeah sure, we're not talking about rape here, but it is still part of "rape culture". I didn't even want to bring up this term because it is literally all over the media and internet and it almost seems a litte worn-out. But rape is just the tip of the iceberg. "Locker room talk", rape jokes, sexist comments and yes, catcalling and street harassment degrade women and none of these behaviors are acceptable.
Therefore, you are never never never ever overreacting when you call out street harassment!