That catcalling even still exists as a thing is insane – men shouting at women in the street to let them know they’re sexually attractive. It’s one of those things that makes you ashamed of the male species and question why we’re even allowed to share the same planet as women.
I’m sure catcalling is an issue in most big cities but I’ve seen a lot of it since I’ve been in New York and, beyond being totally wrong, it’s absolutely baffling as a practice. What are catcallers hoping for? That the woman will hear, feel complimented and fall into their arms all blushing and grateful? It can’t be. Is it some sort of primitive display?
Women I’ve spoken to here about this all seem to have quite a lot of experience with catcalls. Some said they go up and challenge or respond occasionally, which is great. Others just seemed tired but accepting that ‘that’s the way it is’. One friend said she gets catcalled up to ten times a day, often by the same men. She said she even knows what they will catcall her based on what type of outfit she’s wearing which is pretty horrifying.
Many will have seen this video of one woman’s experience being catcalled in New York and I’ve seen lots of evidence to suggest this isn’t too unrealistic a portrayal (for the scrupulous, there is debate as to how real this video is and the conditions it was done in etc.).
Female colleagues at work have taught me a few catcalls. I think it makes them laugh hearing me say it in an English accent. The main one seems to be “God bless you ‘Ma.” I’ve also seen a lot of “Work it ‘ma” and “Shake it ‘Ma”. I don’t know what the ‘it’ is, I presume it’s the bottom but I’ve never stopped a catcaller to gain clarification.
Beyond the whole catcalling thing being obviously appalling, it has bugged me in other ways. Firstly, why is there so often the mention of Ma or Mama? Why is an object of sexual desire intertwined with the mother figure? Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, a derivative of mamacita for example but the whole thing is unquestionably risky territory if you ask me.
In the very unlikely event that I’d think ‘there’s an attractive woman, I should definitely shout at her and tell her so’ then I wouldn’t want to risk throwing in any mention of ma or mother. The very last person, quite literally, that I want to think about in reference to a sexy woman is my mother so this feels like a weird wording choice.
Secondly, so many of these catcalls involve God. ‘God bless you ma.’ That implies a religious belief. This is an interesting thought if you dissect this logic a bit. What’s actually being said here? Are these guys saying that God should bless a woman because she’s beautiful? ‘I hope God looks after you because you’re sexually attractive’ – it doesn’t feel very religious. Again, if I were a religious man and inclined to catcall I’d not want God to know about it at all as I think he’d frown at this.
I think taking catcalls at face value isn’t the answer to solving the problem. I think we need to try to translate what these men are really saying. Perhaps if they could just say things honestly it’d help them to work out their issues in other ways?
A few new ones I think could be worked into the mix that are a bit more honest are below. For best effect these should be shouted with gusto and with the catcaller falling to his knees and reaching out arms wide open to the lady he is targeting:
You make me feel inferior as a man because you look really nice and I don’t feel that you’d ever want to be with me (Possibly a bit long, you’d have to shout really quick)
I don’t think my male friends like me enough so hopefully shouting at you will make them laugh, or something
I’m confused about my masculinity and what it means in the modern world!
If I reduce you to just your physical appearance I feel some strange sort of power over you
Please don’t tell my mom I’m doing this she’d be so ashamed
Sometimes I don’t think I’m worthy of anyone’s love or respect but I hide it deep down
I’ve started shouting before I’ve really thought this out but I’ve started now!
Please help me to gain control of my life because I’m shouting at women in the street
I haven’t confronted anyone on their catcalling yet so I’m not exactly doing anything to solve the problem, which isn’t great. I want to be that guy but, y’know, guns and stuff. I have issued a lot of very cross looks to catcallers but these are mostly when they aren’t looking at me. I’ll try to do my bit going forward.