My night started as it usually does – what shall I wear? Argh. The right mix of attractive but not sexy, to feel good about myself but not to draw attention. It’s a fine balance apparently. And you know, going to see a band you are going to keep it pretty casual. Right ready to go. It’s 7pm. It’s daylight. I park the car at the top of town and walk in to meet my friends. Uh oh. The split second of anxiety in your gut as you see a group of about half a dozen guys in your path, fancy dress, stag do most likely. They are at the cash machine. I should probably cross the road. But it’s daylight, it’s 7pm and it’s my hometown. I don’t need to cross the road or feel intimidated. “Slut.” The murmour of a word catches my attention. “Sorry, what did you just say?” I ask them repeatedly. “Nothing, I didn’t say anything.” One replies. “He called you a slut!” The sting of one little word that probably meant nothing to him. “Banter”. Well he obviously doesn’t know what it feels like to be objectified and intimidated. I’m reeling and I want to get away from them. I check my reflection in the mirror. Was my lipstick too red? My hair too blonde? No, I do not feel ashamed or embarrased about myself, I feel F**king. Angry. And yet once the anger subsided I was afraid to return to my car alone later that night. Having grown up in a society where cat-calling has until recently been socially acceptable and very common I have a sense of what clothes I know draw attention to me and those that don’t. And I suppose after 14 years of that (i’m 28) I was massively caught off guard that night. It was a small, drunk slight that doesn’t compare to the devasting and life-changing acts of sexual assault and rape that are committed against women every day. But it does expose a rape culture in our nightlife and particularly stag dos, where it’s apprently ok to call a total stranger a sexually explicit name. Someone said to me if you wouldn’t want it to happen to your daughter then it is not acceptable that it happened to you. I wouldn’t want it to happen to my son either. So I am calling it out. And I hope that this encourages other people to do the same.
In eighth grade, I was catcalled on basically a daily basis by two of my classmates that I had to pass in the hallway to get to one of my classes (I don’t remember which one). The first time, one of them said, “Nice a**,” and his friend said, “I’d f*** her.” A day or two later, I complained to the dean, and the immediate response was the question of what I was wearing. I was wearing a marching band hoodie that was a size too big, jeans, and black sneakers. First of all, that kind of proves that it had nothing to do with what I was wearing, and second, why should it have mattered? If I had been showing my shoulders or a bra strap and was wearing shorts, or anything more revealing at all, should I have been to blame for vulgarity and harassment? Oh, and not only did the dean do absolutely nothing about it but apologize and send me back to class, I was catcalled for two or more weeks after that, and it only stopped when I stopped in the middle of the hallway and YELLED at them to shut up, almost violently.
Yesterday I got catcalled on a cycle path near our home. Not that it should matter but I was wearing jeans and a baggy top. I didn’t think that it had bothered me at the time. It’s a really hot day today and I wanted to wear a light dress but everything I put on I felt was too short. I got really frustrated and angry and felt like I didn’t want to leave the house, I missed my bus to work and had to walk in late which made me even more anxious. Please realise that when you think you are complimenting me you are actually sexualising me when I don’t want to be sexualised and I have no control over this. I did wear a dress today but have leggings in my bag just in case.
It’s a hot hot day in London and I go out to run to the supermarket in a spaghetti strap top. I get cat called by a man in a van (not surprising) whilst walking along the high street. I cannot win. I wore this top to suit the climate, to avoid sweat patches and discomfort. The fact I cannot enjoy the sunshine and do a weekly shop without feeling self conscious and degraded is beyond me. If women continue to see this sort of reaction on the streets for what they wear, even in 2017, then god help us!
Got catcalled by some lads from a year below me. Scary. They think that it’s okay to do that at that age, what’re they gonna be like in a few years??
I’m a young woman and ride motorbikes – I got my first one at 17. At my school another person in my year had a bike at the same time and so we spent a lot of time boasting about our bikes (being both proud and immature!). Every time (literally every time) I mentioned that I had a bike to someone new and male, the response would be ‘You mean a scooter?’. No one ever said that to my male friend as presumably he was fully capable of riding an actual motorbike. As I got older I started to ferry people around on the back and particularly one boyfriend would ride pillion for trips out and about. Everyone would assume it was his bike and flat out ignore me to ask him what he was riding. More recently a guy I worked with was perfectly normal and friendly – until he found out that I ride motorbikes, at which point I was told that I ‘had’ to give him my number because now I was sexy enough for him to want to sleep with. Not connected but after years of being catcalled I now cross the street if possible, to avoid any bloke in a hi-vis jacket and get extremely nervous if I have to walk past them, especially if there’s more than one person there. It makes me feel deeply self-conscious about my clothes and I avoid all eye-contact. Normally I smile at everyone and I do feel guilty about it.
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.