Catcalling is not a compliment

Catcalling is offensive, rude, sexist, and never a compliment. I realize I’m preaching to the choir here for most individuals, however, I was just recently the victim of this degrading act and I need room to vent. Blogs are a beautiful thing people, for they provide a productive venting space for airing out any frustrations at the continuing idiocy that is the patriarchy.


Chocolate therapy is of course a close second, however, consuming vast amounts of sweet, sweet, gooey goodness is really not very productive, especially in the battle against the patriarchy. But, I digress. Catcalling is never a compliment.

The other day I was walking in downtown Harrisonburg to my favorite coffee shop, The Artful Dodger. On my way there I passed two middle-aged men smoking by a store, and as I walked by, I heard one call out “ Hey beautiful”. When I didn’t respond and kept walking, the other one called out “ Oh, wow, someone cannot take a compliment!” I ignored both compliments and continued my walk to the Artful Dodger. I was left feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, and furious that those two ignorant strangers were the reason. I found an article on Buzzfeed that accurately sums up why catcalls are a direct power play for control, rather than a friendly remark in 8 ways:

1.) It’s alienating- Women should not have to withstand sexist commentary while commuting in a public space. I felt alienated walking to my favorite spot by two men who felt entitled to comment on my appearance!

2.) It’s not actually about the person being catcalled– It is about the two men who became insulted after I did not graciously thank them for their wonderful compliment! Jerks.

3.) It’s about control- Men who catcall are letting those targeted women know that their bodies can and will be commented on. A catcall is not a harmless inquiry or flirting technique, it’s a directive and command about a woman’s body that a man feels entitled to make.

4.) It’s embarrassing– I’m glad Buzzfeed covered this aspect because I did feel embarrassed at feeling ashamed and hurt by my catcallers’ actions.

5.) It’s dehumanizing- I was reduced to an object, not a human being who deserves respect.  When a man catcalls, he completely disregards a woman’s identity.

6.) It’s invasive- The men who harassed me invaded my personal space and led me to feel unsafe walking a public street in broad daylight.

7.) It’s scary- Street harassers can be aggressive and that is a terrifying and often too real possibility. Luckily for me, my harassers did not act out, however, it didn’t stop me from quickening my pace to the Artful Dodger.

8.) It’s disempowering- It is an act of disempowerment when a woman is degraded to targeted object. I felt disempowered by how those men made me feel scared, uncomfortable and ashamed.


I want to hear from you guys. Have you experienced street harassment, and if so, how did it make you feel?

6 thoughts on “Catcalling is not a compliment

  1. Oh my gosh I’m so happy you wrote about this!! I haven’t experienced anything in Harrisonburg but if you’re walking down the street (even in your own neighborhood) in my hometown, you can expect to get a whistle or some sort of ignorant remark yelled at you from a car. My friends and I would always start picking our noses or doing something really gross whenever it happened. It’s actually hilarious because they have no idea how to react!! The saddest thing for me though, is when a man yells something at you out of his car….and he has his wife/girlfriend/some other woman SITTING IN HIS PASSENGER SEAT. Major face palm for real.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s