Why Men Catcall

Since I moved to DC, I've been exposed to an overwhelming increase in my sense of personal danger. (I no longer had the privilege of traveling around in the comfort of my own car or on a campus where public security rolls deep and programs like SafeWalk are in effect).

For the past year or so, my movement has literally been limited-- I have to be at home before a certain hour, with a group (that includes at least one man), or confined to certain areas because it's simply unsafe to do otherwise. This fact has always infuriated me- that I do not have full control over my own movement for fear of being harassed or physically or sexually assaulted. I came across this article today on The Good Men Project and thought I'd share:

Why Men Catcall by Carlos Andres Gomez

Gomez writes,
"This conversation is not a new one, as women have been having it and already spearheaded movements to combat catcalling and street harassment (like Hollaback! and Stop Street Harassment), but now I want to engage men. There are a lot of passionate responders here on The Good Men Project. I believe that to create meaningful, lasting change in this world the whole community must be actively involved in the process of brainstorming and then creating a solution to a problem.  I am tired of my partner and my little sister and my female friends and women in general being forced to walk around afraid and embarrassed and ashamed and uncomfortable. I am tired of harassing men creating an abusive dynamic that undermines basic social etiquette and human respect."
[Read the full article here.]

Gomez is one of my favorite scholars/critics/artists, and he's got a lot of smart questions to ask about what we often consider to be a norm. (His work aims towards "galvanizing men—but also mothers, girlfriends, wives, and sisters—to rethink and redefine the way all men interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion.")  I posted this to my Facebook, and a dear friend of mine responded:
"It’s not just bystanders who have become desensitized—I’ve come to accept that street harassment’s a consequence of living in a city, since it’s been a near-daily occurrence for me for years—which isn’t an acceptable reaction either."  
Whether you live in a city or not, I challenge you to not accept it, and encourage you to share this article and start this dialogue with your friends- male or otherwise. Silence won't get us anywhere.

**Edited to add:


  1. Wow, I am really shocked by this. I live in the DMV and donot find this to be to that extreme. I do think there is a lack of respect for women and a lack of women with respect for themselves and unfortunately women who do have respect for themselves are sometimes subjected to the verbal garbage. Very interesting topic for which I will have to do further research.

  2. I normally have a very uncomfortable feeling when I go into certain areas because I KNOW I will be cat called. I avoid these areas like the plague & go only if I don't have a choice. There's always some fool asking me 'why you look so mad'. Why is it any of your business? I'm not mad, I just have a natural screw face. Leave me alone. How is that a conversation starter? Am I supposed to break down & tell you my problems?

    I once straight up & down cussed out at store attendant & ended up not buying anything because of him. He was speaking in a low voice telling me a bunch of crap & following me in the store bout "mind yuh don't cause accident in de street". I was wearing shorts. I had to get it in. HOW IS IT OKAY TO HARASS YOUR CUSTOMERS AND STILL EXPECT THEM TO BUY FROM YOU? I didn't even wait for a response from the manager, I just busted out of there but everyone in the store sure did hear me.

    But yea. It's a damn problem.


  3. So I'm pretty shocked by the beginning of this post. I moved to DC at the end of June and really don't feel concerned for my personal safety to nearly such an extreme. I live just west of North Capitol St., so definitely not a super-gentrified area or anything, but the people I see walking around on the street are never really malicious, if they acknowledge me at all. There's the guy who hangs out on my block at like 6pm and asks me out every few days, and occasionally I'll get catcalled or have someone make an unnecessary comment while I'm waiting for the metro, but nothing that makes me feel like *I'm in danger*. I got catcalled wayyy more often when I interned in Chicago a few years ago, but even then, it didn't occur to me to be anything other than annoyed by them--I quickly learned to say thanks in a tone that was not unpleasant but also didn't invite further conversation and keep it moving.

    I'm interested to know more about why you correlate catcalling and being in danger.