Calling Out Catcalls

by Dish Staff


YouGov’s Peter Moore presents a new survey:

[A]ccording to a large majority of the public, it is never appropriate (72%) to catcall. 18% say that it’s sometimes appropriate, while 2% think that it’s always appropriate. Men (22%) were only marginally more likely than women (18%) to say that it is ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ appropriate. Asked whether catcalls are compliments or not, most Americans (55%) say that they [constitute] harassment, 24% aren’t sure while only 20% think that they are ‘compliments’.

As seen in the chart above, the relationship between age and catcall-attitudes may come as a surprise:

The question of whether or not catcalls are harassment or complimentary reveals a significant generation divide. Under-30s are the least likely group to say that catcalls constitute harassment (45%), and are the most likely to say that catcalls are complimentary (31%).

In another study released this year, 57% of women indicated they had suffered street harassment and 23% reported they had been “purposely touched or brushed up against in an unwanted, sexual way” while in public. Bryn Donovan recently collected some catcall horror stories:

One woman was harassed right after having her dog put down after his battle with cancer.

I’m at least glad she let the guy have it. Two of the women I talked to had been catcalled while going home from a funeral. One of them had stopped at a convenience store, wearing a black dress, because she had cried so hard at her friend’s service that she needed some Gatorade. A man called after her, making kissing noises and saying, “Damn girl you make that dress look gooood.” A doctor told me possibly the worst story. She had finished a terrible shift in the ER. After declaring a 15-year-old girl brain dead, she had a painful talk with the family about organ donation. Then she admitted a 14-year-old girl who had been raped, beaten, and left for dead, and a long-term patient of hers suddenly coded and died. She came out into the parking lot at 10 a.m. and got catcalled. The family of the 15-year-old was walking out with her, and when the doctor hugged the girl’s mother, the stream of harassment got worse.

Many of us have a long history with harassment, beginning in our early teens. One of my friends thought being pregnant would make her temporarily immune. Nope. I honestly thought that at my age, I would be done with it. Middle-aged women, I am always told, are invisible. I don’t want to be invisible in social situations or at work, but on the street? Yes please.

For more stories, read through our 2012 thread The Terror Of Catcalling.