We Should Care About Catcalling

Photo Credit: horacemann.org

By Olivia Johnson ’24

Catcalling is a detriment to society’s feminine people. Whether you identify as a she, he, or they, there is a high chance that you have been harassed on the street. Most cisgender women, including myself, have gotten “catcalled” at least once in their life, many even before the age of 18 (Medical News Today). It’s disappointing to realize that the likelihood of these situations occurring in daily life is so common.

People who are catcalled often feel powerless because there is no repercussion for the person doing it. Instead, they are often blamed. When a robbery is occurs, what happens to the thief? They get prosecuted of course, but what if the cashier was considered as well? What if the police wrote off the crime as “deserved,”  just because the store was making more money that day? Objectively, that makes no sense.

Catcalling may not be a crime in the way that theft is, but catcalling is a key factor that feeds into rape culture. Yet for most men there are zero consequences for catcalling. Instead, the woman is often considered to be “asking for it” if they are wearing anything society deems revealing. Asking for what? Attention from random men? Most women just want to go about their business without being shouted at.

If a man were to wear the teeniest shorts and a tight tank top, or go shirtless, what do you think the majority of people would do? Nothing! Most people wouldn’t even think to go up and harass them regarding what they wear (of course, there are always exceptions). It’s the women and feminine presenting people who get backlash based upon their choice of outfits. 

If you saw a woman getting touched, whilst she had a severely uncomfortable look on her face, would you do something? For those who say yes, thank you for being an actually good person. However, most people choose to be bystanders, even if they have the muscles or wit to help.

Some men claim that catcalling is normal, expected, and even a compliment. They don’t think it should be taken seriously (psypost.org). Perhaps they don’t realize the direct link between verbal harassment and other forms of harassment. One extreme example is Ruth George, a woman who was brutally murdered just because she rejected the guy who showed interest in her (Chicagotribune.com). While catcalling may seem far from murder and rape, they are all part of our culture of objectifying women.

If you are a male who does not participate in catcalling, you are still bound to come across women in your life who have been affected by it. Speak up when you see it happening. Why let harassment go under the excuse of “it’s just a compliment”? Women aren’t overdramatic. They live in a world where they fear for their safety, and catcalling only adds to the culture of disrespect and harassment.


 “Catcalling, the Power of Women, and Rape Culture.” The Guardian, 31 Aug. 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/31/catcalling-power-women-rape-culture.

“Ruth George Murder Shines Light on Street Harassment.” Chicago Tribune, 27 Nov. 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/editorials/ct-editorial-ruth-george-murder-street-harassment-20191127-nev6vosytbeopjqmejiwbrfrve-story.html.

“What Is Sexism?” Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-is-sexism#what-causes-it.

“Men Who Catcall Claim It’s a Normal Way of Flirting While at the Same Time Demonstrating Greater Hostile Sexism.” PsyPost, 2021, https://www.psypost.org/2021/09/men-who-catcall-claim-its-a-normal-way-of-flirting-while-at-the-same-time-demonstrating-greater-hostile-sexism-61805.

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