10 Responses to a Catcall

[dropacp]W[/dropcap]e’ve all been there: while walking on the street, some guy decides to “compliment” us even if we’re more covered up than a nun, some dude on a bike decides to grab our ass (that happened to me when I was sixteen), and some guy decided to forces us to give him our number and starts to look like he’ll get physical if we don’t. Catcalling is so ingrained into our culture it even happens at work, it happens in the media often, and it could sometimes build up to more threatening situations if the person doing this is actually bonkers and not just some ordinary asshole who just wants to look cool in front of his bros.

What’s a woman to do when in this situation? Although there’s no one-size fits all approach, here are a few examples of things other women around the world have done to confront their catcallers:

1. Use social media to call out your street/online harasser. There are various ways one can do this: whether it’s tweeting something productive back to your online harasser, outing the person on Facebook (this depends on your personal assessment of the situation), or even posting a picture or video of the person doing this to you. Depending on where you live, there might be different consequences for the perpetrator, but at the very least other women will be warned and support you.

2. Some catcallers enjoy badgering women for their phone number. On one occasion when this happened to me, I gave out my number but with a different area code because I’m from California and we have tons of these. You never know if the person who bothers you will get violent, so the next best thing is to give out the number for the Feminist Phone Intervention: (669) 221-6251. It’ll send out feminist text messages to whoever gets the number.

3. Walk away. This is probably something we already do, but if you don’t feel responding verbally, the best thing to do is to firmly walk away. Hell, some situations warrant running away if necessary (and yes, I’ve done that).

4. Know your rights. Some public places have laws and regulations that prohibit street harassment. Independence, MO has made it illegal for drivers to harass cyclists and pedestrians on the street. In New York, there is a statute against continuous public lewdness acts. If you live in these areas you’d benefit from reporting harassment to transit workers or police. This will create consequences for the harasser and hopefully help you feel better.

5. Call their job. Jo from Kent, England shared a story about how she called a man’s workplace because she saw the company’s name on his clothing. The goal isn’t necessarily to get the person fired. However, many companies have regulations about employee conduct while wearing company-issued clothes or uniforms. Reporting this can help the harasser know that there are consequences for their actions.

Ingrid Cruz

Ingrid Cruz

Ingrid Cruz is a freelance writer and designer raised in Los Angeles. She's currently backpacking South America and hopes to return to the USA free of her fear of heights.

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