“Hey, Sexy”: Putting an end to catcalling

Heather Inglis

Ah, Women’s History Month. A time for all of us who have female attributes to celebrate all that is us. Even though we should be proud of who we are throughout the year, March is that one month where we can shamelessly pride in being women and all that it entails.

If you’re still not seeing my point, here look at it this way: Our bodies were basically created to eventually morph, house another human being for nine months and later give birth to the human being for he or she to grow and function in the world. If that’s not remotely cool, than I would really like to know what is.

And while you’re probably expecting me to explore some aspect of female sexuality — because let’s face it: Sex is a hot topic in college —  I’m going to bring it back to something a bit more pressing in today’s society. Yes, my inner feminist is breaking free and writing my column this week. Prepare yourselves.

This “pressing matter” happens to be catcalling.

To start, catcalling is when unsolicited attention is drawn to someone (traditionally woman) by an outside party (traditionally man) by whistling or making inappropriate comments in response to sexual attraction to the receiver giver’s. Mind you, I’m in no way saying men have not been catcalled by women. It’s happens. But catcalling is more commonly seen male to female as opposed to female to male.

This is a concept we’ve all grown up with. Whether it was the stereotypical construction worker whistling at a pretty girl walking by or the various times each character was faced with the ever-so popular “Hey baby!” on “Sex and the City.” We’ve watched this form of objectification happen all around us. I’d bet money you’ve probably been catcalled sometime between the age of 14 and now.

Despite the fact that I’m 21 and have the body of an awkward 13-year-old girl, I, too, have been catcalled. Just last semester I was walking to my apartment and got a nice “Hey sexy girl!” yelled down at me from the second story of my building. Not only was I sufficiently grossed out, but it left me feeling rather upset. In what world is it ever OK to do that?

In this situation, I was an unarmed, 98-pound-girl walking alone at dusk. While I’m confident enough to do this and not afraid to do things by myself, had this man been within walking distance of me, I would have been significantly more afraid. Had it been more than one man, I can guarantee you I would have been nervous.

And this isn’t an unusual thought process for women. I sent out a survey to 100 college-aged women, and the results I got were similar. Roughly 90 percent of women have been catcalled by an unfamiliar man and almost all of them said they were “just walking” when the act occurred.

These women also reported feeling “embarrassed,” “scared,” “violated,” “annoyed” and, most commonly, “uncomfortable.” Eighty-eight percent of the participants said they simply ignored their catcaller.

One participant said, “I love going on long runs outside, and catcalling happens frequently. Personally, I feel like I am faced with negative repercussions for simply being an active female. If a man was running on the side of a road, would females honk and say derogatory things? Probably not. Why can’t I do something as simple as running without being sexualized?”

And she’s right. The female body is sexualized with every act. It has been viewed merely as an object for decades, and despite feminist movements and female progression to power, it’s still subject to objectification with a woman’s every action.

So how can we combat this, you might ask? The simplest form of action would simply be to not express interest in such ways. Approaching a woman and expressing interest is much less intimidating and much more flattering. While this is the harder route for some to take, it is the easiest ways to combat catcalling.

And this goes for women catcallers, as well. It’s just as inappropriate to whistle at a man as it is for a man to a woman. This just shows that we all need to think before we express sexual desire.

Now that we’re all educated on catcalling, go back to enjoying Women’s History Month. And I promise, my next column will be a lot more light-hearted and sexy. Until then, keep embracing womanhood.

Contact Heather Inglis [email protected].