i have trained in martial arts for around 9 years. i know how to use a bokkun (wooden rod) to fight. i am a bodybuilder. and yet, despite all of my physical precautions, i still cannot bring myself to do anything more than give men on the street the finger when they make kissing noises, when they honk their horns at me, when they call out. people seem to think ‘defending yourself’ will help. it hasn’t. my intelligence hasn’t helped either. i’m a member of a website where i help people to learn english, and i constantly get harassed by older men asking me about my virginity, about if i want to send them pictures. none of my good qualities and hobbies have protected me from misogyny and i cannot pretend they do any longer.
I was walking down the high street when a guy behind me starts catcalling me and my “nice arse” this went on for a few minutes until him and his friends went into a shop leaving me with a “bye beautiful lady!” This left me feeling really embarrassed but also angry, how could anyone think a woman would appreciate that? Or that it was a “compliment”? I also hate days at my school when we wear our own clothes, I love fashion but whenever I wear something a bit tight or short I’m subject to boys staring too long or discussing the way I look with each other. I’ve had boys touch my leg under the desk on a regular basis. This also happens to my friends but we’ve never even thought to report it.
I was going to a dance performance with my mum (I’m a minor) and I decided to dress up. I wore a leather black skirt and white top. The clothes I was wearing weren’t inappropriate in any way and I felt really pretty. We were walking on the street in a really nice neighbourhood and suddenly a car drove past and signalled. I didn’t think much about it. Then we were walking further down the street and the cars stopped for the red light. As my mum and I walked past, the same car signalled again. I looked and saw a fat man sitting in the car and (there’s no other way to put it) leering at me. I wanted to shout f*** you but my mum grabbed my hand and said ignore it. This was the first time something like this happened to me and I felt really gross after it. For a few days I walked around trying to be ‘ugly’ because I was scared something like this would happen again. I talked to my friends about it and every single one of them has had a similar story. It just makes me mad that guys think it’s acceptable to do this. I was also really ashamed because my mum saw it all.
Growing up, one my closest friends was very pretty. When I was with her, she would constantly get catcalled and followed by men in malls and such. We were about 11 or 12 at the time, and being in the midst of all this prompted some self-esteem issues for me which still continue to date. Quite simply, I felt really bad at that age because I WASN’T being catcalled. As I understood it, to be catcalled, men had to find you attractive or desirable. And I didn’t feel like I was either of those things. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Now, of course, I am aware of how problematic that kind of mentality is. And yet, I still find a small part of myself wondering if somehow I am not worthy of being found desirable or attractive. It makes me sad, it really does. The fact that I’ve learned that getting validation from harassment is okay–normal, even–and that NOT getting harassment somehow means I’m less worthy as a person.
A work truck drove past me yesterday while I was walking my dog and beeped at me. I thought it must have been someone I knew – until it turned around not once, but twice, to drive past me again, these times with the window down so that the two men inside could scream ‘sexy bitch’ at me. I screamed back at them and they laughed at me.
I’ve just turned 17, but remember being catcalled since I was 14. It’s nothing major, nothing dangerous, but it happens with such frequency that it’s really starting to get to me. I feel so dehumanised, and it really shatters my confidence for the day, in a sociey where a teen girls confidence is already borderline sacred. All my female friends who I’ve spoken to feel exactly the same way. The most recent example of this was just this afternoon, when my dad gave me a lift to the local shops to pick up some cream for a cake I was making. We drove up, and I jumped out, picked up the cream and started making my way back. Now, I should mention at this point that my dad drives a big white van, the kind, as much as I hate to stereotype, that us women are so used to begin catcalled out of. Anyway, as I was walking back to the van, and my waiting dad, I had to walk past a large group of teenage boys, who must have been about 16/17- the same age as me. Before I even passed them I knew it was going to happen, and sure enough, one of them whistled loudly at me, nudging his friends who all started laughing. Turning round I gave them the finger, then jogged back to the van. I told my dad what had happened, who was outraged (“I didn’t think people even did that anymore” was his shocked response.) Quickly he started the engine, rolled down the window and we drove alongside them. “Go f**k yourselves” I yelled out of the window at them, and they stood, absolutely silent, mouths hanging open, stunned. It was pure poetic justice- the boys being harassed by a teenage girl out of a white van. It was such an empowering moment, and I pray they see the irony in it, as I do, although I doubt they will. It has reminded me that I shouldn’t put up with catcalling, and to make a stand whenever I can, whenever I feel safe. But most of all, I hope that the male half of my generation find the respect within themselves, otherwise, we’re just going to have to teach them a lesson…
I have just returned from my first ever holiday abroad without my parents, and whilst I had an amazing time overall, I feel that some of the behaviour that my friend and I experienced may have tainted these memories. We have just finished secondary school and decided that we should travel to a few places in Italy to celebrate. Whilst we expected that as young females, we may have to be slightly more cautious than if we were travelling with our families, I was not prepared for the sheer amount of minor instances of sexism that we encountered. For instance, in Naples, our first destination, we were catcalled many times a day (on one occasion, we counted over ten separate examples within half an hour). These ranged from simply, ‘ciao’, to highly explicit sexual comments, sometimes leading to groping. I am aware that my experiences are not the most severe or shocking, however they made us feel very unsafe and forced us to restrict where and when we could go out (which I personally don’t believe would have been the case had we been accompanied by a man). One of our main reasons for deciding to go abroad was to find freedom and independence, but sadly, our ability to achieve this was limited due to unnecessary sexist remarks. Something which may have seemed like a harmless compliment to the perpetrators, when combined with other factors, effectively ruined some aspects of our holiday, which seems very unfair to me, and of course parallels what many people (particularly women) experience throughout their entire lives.
Got catcalled by a 10year old on a bus today. Was so shocked wasn’t sure what to reply to that. My lack of response triggered an even more aggresive behaviour with further insults. OMG!
I was studying abroad in Spain and decided to go for a walk one Sunday afternoon to clear my head as I’d been cooped up inside writing an essay all day. I walked to an area on the map I’d never been to before and soon realised that it was a pretty dodgy end of town. Having been catcalled by men driving by in cars 4 times, I decided it was time to make my way back home sharpish. As I was walking back I suddenly heard a voice behind me calling several times (in Spanish) ‘Bonita!’, ‘Do you want to be my best friend?’ and finally, ‘Don’t you speak Spanish?’ (as if that would be the only reason stopping me from replying!) I turned round briefly to see how close he was and realised it was one of the men who had called from his car a little earlier and that he had been driving in the opposite direction which means he not only turned his car around but also parked it and got out in order to follow me. I didn’t reply and practically ran back to my flat, fortunately he stopped following me after about 100m. I was so shaken up for the week that followed and asked my Spanish friend whether she’d experienced anything similiar: she explained ‘You have to go into a shop or a bar when that happens’, I told her that it was a Sunday so nothing was open and she just said ‘Oh, that’s too bad’.
When I was about thirteen, I was walking down the street with about five girl friends going to grab a bite to eat. The sun had almost set and we were walking along on a sidewalk on the side of a road right off the highway, and there were practically no cars. One car passed very near the curb and right by us, and a boy had his head sticking out the window and shouted something at us. I was speaking with one of my friends, so I didn’t completely hear what was being said, but I caught the word ‘pussy’ and I could tell it was verbal harassment. That was the first time I had ever personally experienced cat-calling.