Catcalling is a form of aggression towards women. I and many other women have expressed that they don’t feel safe when a man yells out at them when they are in public. Shouting, “Hey, Baby!” doesn’t feel like a compliment to women. It feels unsafe. It feels like a man telling you that you aren’t able to walk around in public without him commenting on your body and letting you know his opinion about it.
Why do I care what a random stranger’s opinion is about my body? I don’t. And here is the thing, he doesn’t care. THAT is not the point.
The point is CONTROL. Why did it take me this long to have that epiphany?
It’s the same thing my father did when I when I used to fly home every three to five years to visit him and my mother. (They were abusive, thus the visits were only every three to five years.) I would get off the plane, happy and confident, and the FIRST thing my father said to me every time was, “Jamie, YOU GOT FAT!” I don’t think it matters what anyone weighs, but for the record, I was extremely thin in high school and when I moved away I gained about twenty pounds, so I was not huge. My father was a jerk.
He shouted this in case anyone in the tiny airport didn’t hear him. I was devastated every time. I’m sure he saw it on my face and in my body language. He took control of me and how I would feel and behave for the entire visit the moment he saw me. He was a classic narcissist. He was an abusive, controlling, cruel person, and one of the many reasons I moved away from my small town at nineteen to got to college. He was also one of the reasons I was happy to move even further, states away, with my husband when I was twenty-four.
It’s the same concept when men and boys engage in catcalling. They put women on guard. These men think that they can’t just be in the same public space with women, they feel the need to try to control women and to blatantly assert their control. “Hey, Baby!” Or “Hey, Baby, Nice Breasts!” to put it nicely, is not a compliment. It is a statement of possession, of control, a way of saying, “I own you. I control this space. Men control this space. Men control women.”
I reject that statement, that concept, and it long past time for it to stop. I was raised in an abusive household. I didn’t understand my father’s behavior in time to confront him. I didn’t know what to say to him when he said, “Jamie, You got fat!” How is that for a greeting? He didn’t say hello, or it’s nice to see you.
I was shocked and hurt, as I am sure I was meant to be. I was at least briefly sent emotionally right back to where I had been as an abused little girl. That is where he wanted me, submissive and scared. I had to work to stand up for myself throughout the rest of the short time I was there to visit, because wisely, I always kept my visits to four or five days maximum.
So men, if you are reading this, and I hope you are, please understand that many women have been abused as children. ( I know that many men have too.) We don’t want to be treated this way. We WILL NOT ACCEPT being treated this way. It feels terrible, disrespectful, and unsafe.
Men and women, please teach your children to treat everyone with respect.