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’SUP,

GORGEOUS? CATCALLS ARE FAR FROM COMPLIMENTS

by TYLER MOWBRAY photographed by NUE CHANTHAVONGSAY

M

en think about sex a lot. There’s really no way around it, but it becomes a problem when these thoughts are projected in a hurtful or demeaning way. Street harassment of women, or catcalling, is a common form of this. Some men think they can get away with this because it happens in a public space or because all men think that way. That is not true, and there is no justification for it. In the year 2015, catcalling is seen as vulgar, unwanted attention by the vast majority of women. Shouting suggestive phrases to females in public spaces has been a part of society for a long time. It comes in the forms of prolonged looks, verbal phrases, whistling, or even following, sexual touching, masturbation, and assault. It is a sexually driven act that objectifies women and nothing else. No matter what a woman is wearing, it will happen, and it is a myth that women bring it upon themselves. Multiple online surveys conducted in the U.S. by Stop Street Harassment revealed that 95–100% of female participants reported being sexually harassed on the streets. Another study showed that 85% of women experienced being harassed before age 17, which shows the potential for it to cause psychological harm to young girls.1

There is a difference between the primitive practice of catcalling and genuine compliments or flirting. One is about power, the other is about attraction. Men catcall because they want to feel dominant over females, much like a domestic abuser does. Consider the fact that if a man calls out to a total stranger, there cannot be any reason behind it other than a physical attraction. Men do it in the hopes that, somehow, it will lead to sex with

the woman on the receiving end.2 They are degrading women by reducing them to objects. It is also dangerous because an especially deranged man will use force or threats to get his way. Catcalling can be disguised as a flattering compliment or a simple greeting, which may seem harmless, but there can easily be another motive. When women are placed in a position that makes them feel objectified or targeted, feelings of anger, anxiety, fear, and shame flood in.3 These are not comfortable emotions to have running through you in public. The persistence of harassment can take a toll on someone’s life. Continuous victims feel forced to avoid public transportation, walk different routes to work, or change their choice of clothing. Harassment can also disrupt attention at work or cause a woman to not attend a social event. Some women may even be forced to move because of a threatening neighbor. When women are touched or groped by a stranger, it has extreme effects on self-esteem; they feel cheapened or dirty, almost like a victim of rape would.4

IN MANY SURVEYS, NEARLY

100%

OF WOMEN REPORT BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED ON THE STREETS

A man is either the type of person who will participate in catcalling or not; there is no middle ground. Men who do it do not realize the strain and discomfort they are placing on women that receive it. Every time it happens, a girl will build her self-image around it. There are well-established groups that actively try to end street harassment, like Stop Street Harassment and Hollaback! Both women and men who are fed up with harassment need to know that they’re not alone and help is always out there. − 1 “National Street Harassment Report,” Stop Street Harassment. 2 Michael Hollan, “A Man Reveals the Harsh Truth: What Catcalling Really Means,” Your Tango.  3 Tara Culp-Ressler, “This is What Women are Forced to Do to Avoid Street Harassment,” Think Progress, last modified April 16, 2015.  4 Laura Bates, “Women Should Not Accept Street Harassment as ‘Just a Compliment,’” The Guardian, last modified February 28, 2014.

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Positive Negative Magazine Volume 9  

Positive/Negative Magazine is the result of a powerful collaboration between senior graphic designers and photographers in the College of Im...

Positive Negative Magazine Volume 9  

Positive/Negative Magazine is the result of a powerful collaboration between senior graphic designers and photographers in the College of Im...

Profile for posnegmag