Got catcalled cycling home by some men in a car, shouting something about being someone’s sister ‘is that your sister’. I didn’t understand the statement but it was clearly a man trying to exert power over me and make me feel uncomfortable.
Once when I was 17, I was leaving my place of work and walking out to where my mum was parked in our car. There were a couple of drunk men outside making fun of one of our delivery drivers who had just arrived back at the store. It was nighttime and I knew it wasn’t safe for me to get involved, so I kept walking. They noticed me and started yelling at me. I was scared but I didn’t want them to know, so I didn’t speed up or turn around. They yelled at me, referring to me as the name of the place I worked, and before I closed the car door, I heard “show us your -“. I told my mum once I was in the car and she did not seem surprised or angry at all. It was just another day. That was the first moment I became keenly aware of how normalised sexual harassment is, and it sickens me.
I was out with my then boyfriend in Nottingham where I was living whilst at uni. It was the middle of a heatwave so I was wearing shorts and a sleeveless tie up shirt and trainers. After we’d had our meal we began walking back out of the city when these two men were coming towards us. Both looked to be between 40-50 and had beer cans in their hands. As we got closer, I saw them looking at me and then at each other, and then back at me. We passed and as we did, one of them smiled at me and then turned to his friend and said “Ooh, I’d have a go on that.” At the time I tried to laugh it off with my boyfriend. But it really stuck with me. Firstly, the fact that I wasn’t even called “her”. I was called “that” as though I was some object. Secondly, the phrase ‘I’d have a go” made me sound like some sort of fairground ride people want to go on. The more I thought about it the more it upset me. But in a way, afterwards was worse. I have a lot of guy friends and I later mentioned it to them. The mix in reactions was a surprise. Some of my friends got angry and called the men out on their behaviour. Others didn’t really react massively. One person even said ‘well it could have been worse.” And whilst it could have been, the fact he dismissed the way it had made me feel and acted like the comment was nothing to get upset about really hurt. He did later apologise because I pulled him up on it later and explained how he made me feel. But that didn’t take away how his initial reaction was that I shouldn’t be bothered by it.
yesterday, i was walking past my school building and across the street i saw two guys who appeared slightly older than me walking in my direction. I glanced at them and continued walking down the street, thinking nothing of it, but then they started shouting things at me, commenting on my appearance. It made me super uncomfortable because i’m only 13 and i’m still trying to feel comfortable in my own body, so when they shouted stuff about it i felt panicked. I was catcalled last year but i wasn’t upset, just angry. But this felt different, because i was genuinely in shock. I continued walking away without looking at them or saying anything, pretending i hadn’t heard them. But then they started shouting at me for not saying thank you, and i think they swore at me (i can’t be sure because it all kind of felt like a blur). I called a guy friend and he didn’t seem bothered by it, and in the background i heard my other friends laughing. This stuff is so normalised that they genuinely thought it was just a casual joke. I sat under a tree and started crying because i felt like i did something wrong. What if wore jeans instead of shorts? What if i hadn’t glanced at them? What if i said stop? I can’t sleep anymore, and i feel afraid to leave my house. I was facetiming my guy friend earlier and he cut me off to tell me how “he’d tell me his opinion, but i’d call him sexist”. He said that it bothers him when i say guys catcall me because “not every guy is like that”, which i know, but i feel unable to talk about my experiences with people because i get shut down. I know the catcalling wasn’t a big deal but i feel broken and frightened. I feel like i deserved it and it was my fault.
I’m currently 13, (going into eighth grade) and last summer (so i was twelve at the time) one of my friends invited me and two other girls (we were all really close) to stay at her grandparents beach house for a weekend. We were going to go walk around the town, and as we were walking this group of three or four boys who were playing maybe basketball? started whistling at us and lined up at the edge of the court and stared at us as we walked by. One of my friends had been wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps and short ripped jean shorts, and she got really upset and said that she was starting to feel really self conscious about her choice of clothing. I didn’t really make much of it at the time, as it was one of my first experiences with cat calling but now I am outraged thinking about it, I mean we were twelve. My friend looked fabulous in what she was wearing and she shouldn’t have to feel any differently because some disgusting teenage boys thought of and about us in a gross way. I know that many of you on this platform have gone through far worse, so I also just wanted to say that to those who are reading this, I’m so sorry that you have had to go through those things and know that I am here, silently supporting you, all of you. I really just hope that my small story may help someone out there realize that they aren’t alone, and any type of sexism is NOT okay.
Hi Laura, I hope your well and safe? I just wanted to email you about your article, cat calling. I only the other day said to my partner I don’t feel safe on the streets at the moment running alone yet I have to run on my own as we have two kids and they need their daily excerxise too of a walk so we take turns who can go for a run, and I cannot run with my friends anymore so I’m alone on deserted streets and men are crawling by and starting and whistling and one man even started to pull over. I live in a small boring village in Essex, it’s normally very safe and I don’t ever feel like that. I do feel more men are being predators now because they know the streets are empty and women are running more, alone, because gyms are shut and companions have been stopped. I have stopped running now because of this. It is a big thing. And I feel more awareness needs to be made about it, we’re more open to risk now the streets are bare. Can you make more awareness of your article. Can you try and make it reach out to more people, I only saw it because of snap chat whilst drinking my morning coffee lying in bed this morning but I think you will be very surprised if you done a toll or got it more exposure how much of a problem this is. There will be an increase of missing people and violence now the streets are bare but we can go out alone to exercise. I was scared and I live in this small village who everyone knows everyone. Thank you for your article though, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone or being over dramatic or imagining it, predator men are now taking advantage of this and that now scares me we are going to have bigger problems. And now I can’t run alone as my exercise. The warmest regards Natasha
I’ve recently been dabbling in alternative fashion. A few weeks ago, while I was out shopping in the city, a homeless man on a street corner felt the need to comment on the choker I was wearing and tell me it was ‘sexy’. Women’s bodies are not public property. We do not exist solely for men’s personal gratification- we’re living beings with independent thoughts and emotions and we should have the right to express ourselves.
At school, the boys make sexual jokes about girls in our grade. It is completely disgusting. At school, it’s common for someone to catcall you and make rape jokes. I tried to tell my teacher about one incident at the end of the year. He said to ignore it. It’s hard to ignore someone catcalling you and saying sexual things to you. I then went to the principal after a kid in my grade called my friend a fat f*ck and that no one would want to f*ck her. He then went on to make sexual comments about my friends and I on our way out of the school. We recorded it all down on paper and showed it to our principle. When the sexual harassment got very bad my parents decided to call the school. They told me to ignore it and “boys will be boys.” At one of my friend’s schools, she was forcefully kissed and a kid spanked her on school property. She was 11. The school did nothing. It’s unfair that we have to go to school when these incidents are occurring. The schools tell us to report harassment and bullying and when we do, the teachers do nothing. It’s absolutely disgusting. I deserve to go to school and not be scared that someone is going to grope or kiss or grab or catcall me.
i was walking home wit my friend in the middle of the day and i was joking about something and starting flailing my arms about and laughing someone rolled down there window and yelled out keep walking slut i was 11. Another time i was home alone and i decided to go walk to te sops (there only a couple minutes away) i got dressed and walked out, i would never normally ave done tis cause i was a very anxious kid so i was feeling confident ten a two men drove passed me and yelled out “slut” i got so scared i had a panic attack wile running home and burst into tears i was only 11.
Walked to a party alone in the evening. A group of old men sitting outside a pub dog whistled at me as I sped past them. It was scary to be alone there.