Cat-Calling: Let's Have A Conversation
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Health and Wellness

Cat-Calling: Let's Have A Conversation

Boys will be boys, and boys will be good, kind, respectful....if that is the standard.

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Cat-Calling: Let's Have A Conversation
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Spring.

The flowers are beginning to play peekaboo in a wide array of pastels, the air is fragrant and sweet. The bees are buzzing around and, for the first time in months, you find yourself having to cover up your sweet drinks and ice creams so that you don't get a bumble in your cup. The sun is shining, not yet beating down with it's hot summer rays, and the breeze is ever presently brushing against your skin and gently whipping at the hair around your face.

Spring is so magical. I love spring walks, hikes, I love spring in general. And luckily for me, my fiancé, Kieran, and I just moved into a very walking-friendly neighborhood. We live in the heart of a small town's "downtown" historical district. You know, the kind with the cute coffee shops everywhere, and hole in the wall thrift stores, restaurants, a tattoo parlor or two and a grocers. It has been the best living here so far, and there are days when I need something that I can just leash up my dog, walk to the store, and entirely avoid a car trip and traffic. It is absolutely perfect for a person like me who begins to go stir crazy after two hours being inside. Except for one thing:


I second guess every time I leave the house.


And no, we don't live in a terrible neighborhood. Our neighbors are awesome, our landlord is awesome. The same elderly man who sits on the bench every morning greets me and my dog with a, "Good morning, and hello Puppy-Dog!!!" which I love.

The problem here is not the people who are in immediate surrounding of me, the problem are the people in the cars. See, the down town district has a Main Street that runs right through the middle of the town and eventually leads to a highway route, so the main road is constantly bustling with the cars of commuters, school goers, workers etc.

And, evidently, a lot of men who like to catcall.

First, let me clarify what a catcall is. A catcall occurs typically in a public setting, in an instance where person A gives unwanted attention to person B via the medium of an inappropriate noise, whistle, sexual slur, or sexual invitation.

Now, I know this is instantaneously going to catch a lot of eye-rolls, "Oh, here is another millennial female talking about how inconvenienced she is and how her civil rights are going to be compromised because of a 2 second remark made to her on a street." No.

I am from a small town, my fiancé is a construction worker (who, yes, does not have the most "cultured" or refined job, but he has a mama and a maw maw who raised him to treat a girl like a lady), and I know very well that the occasional flirtation from an unoriginal dude is not even remotely strong enough to compromise my civil rights, my dignity and my womanhood. I am not snow flaking around, this is not a class issue, and it isn't an "I'm offended," issue.

It is more of an "I'm scared because what if," issue.

Let me explain.

Exactly a week ago from today, I took the dog on a walk. I was about to turn off of the main road, and onto a smaller road that had our favorite ice-cream shop (I take my dog to get ice-cream some times, guilty). There was a man, who was about as old as Kieran's grandfather, that waved at me out of the car window, which was rolled down. I waved back, figuring that no normal man of this age would hit on a noticeably younger girl. He was friendly. It was a wave. Right?

Wrong.

My wave back was an invitation to turn off of the main road with me, him still in his car, and follow me halfway down the smaller road, winking at me and continually waving, until I went into a nearby store to lose sight of him.

This was in broad day light, in front of tons of people.

An older woman sitting on a bench said, "I'm sorry, men are disgusting."

I smiled at her and thought, "no, men wouldn't do that."

A few days later, I was coming back from a walk with Kieran. We had gone to get coffee, we were laughing, and Kieran ran up to the porch to unlock the door while I lagged behind to let the leashed little Lu take her final pee before going inside.

A HUGE bumped up truck drove up behind me, and because they did not see Kieran next to me, they just saw a girl and a dog, they thought it would be okay to lay one on their horn and yell out the window as loudly as they could before driving off laughing.

Now, this noise, which came from behind me genuinely spooked me. The dog jumped at the horn, I spilled my coffee on myself, and I gasped. And then, coffee dripping down my arm, I looked at Kieran, who was on the front porch with his mouth wide open. This all happened in about two seconds.

And just like the first man who followed me down the road, just like every time this happens, I feel my face get hot. I feel my cheeks prickle red with embarrassment. I check my outfit, to look at what I'm wearing (which was a pair of leggings and an oversized tank top). Is it revealing? Was it my fault? Then, I survey around who saw, are they looking at me too? I try to see if the person who yelled is still somewhere around. Did someone follow me home, or was it just a "joke." And then I always think the same thing.

"I need to go home, I need to get inside, I don't want to be seen."

See, let's dissect the morale of catcalling, because ultimately, that is what the aftermath of cat-calling is. It is a confused, embarrassed girl, sometimes, holding her spilled coffee with an equally scared dog in the front lawn of her house that is three feet away from her. It is her making sure she didn't dress like a "floozy."

It leads to public humiliation and shame. What is the end goal of catcalling? I refuse to believe that any individual is stupid enough to believe that this is a form of flirting, and I know this to be true because a catcall usually happens within 5 seconds, and then the culprit has sped off a million miles away, watching the girl get smaller and smaller in their rear-view mirror. Using deductive reasoning, one can assume that there is some element of humor or entertainment gained from this incident, since it can't, in any way, shape, or form, be a genuine attempt to spark an interaction.

And this is precisely the problem that we have. On one end, we are telling young women to remain vigilant, alert, and aware of potential predators. We are telling them to dress modestly, take a buddy, take a taser, don't ever forget your cellphone. But when a catcall occurs, it needs to be taken lightly. We can't be "snowflakes" about it. Silly girls, it's play stalking, not real stalking, know the difference! Don't get too offended! It was a joke, he didn't mean anything by it...he was just...play telling you what he wanted to do! Ha ha!

We need to stop teaching girls to "know the difference" and start teaching boys to know "it's wrong."


Kieran, from the porch, said, "I'm sorry," as if he was apologizing, as a man, on behalf of all great men.

"It's okay." I say, leading the dog inside.

"They're gone, they took off," he says, "and I know it doesn't make the situation any better, but they were young, like a bunch of tool bags who didn't have any respect," his voice trailed off, "ninety-nine percent of the time, that's all it is, a lack of respect."

I sighed, "I would go as far as to say ninety nine point nine percent of the time it is just a disrespectful joke...but what about that point one percent that isn't? Because usually it is, but sometimes, rarely, it's not. And the "not" category is scary, and it happens every day."

And I know it happens every day, we all do. Because we can turn on the news and see it, we can read it in the crime sections of the paper, our colleges alert the students to be safe and take the buddy system. "So and so arrested for assault on blah blah avenue." It happens every day.

His face twisted in contemplation, and then he said, "If we have a boy, they are never going to be that guy."

I thought back to almost a year ago when Kieran came into my work. I was on one side of the bookshelf, stacking up books. He went around to the other side, peering at me through the spaces between the books. He quietly whistled, and I smiled and rolled my eyes. My co-worker looked at me, and I laughed, "don't worry, I love him!" This is a complement. It was a compliment that he walked me out of my work, held my hand, and opened the car door for me to get in. His "hello beautifuls" and his "you look great in that" comments, those are complements. They are complements that you give a lady from a place of respect.

"Our boy will not be that guy..." he said again.

And I looked at him and thought, good guys exist, and there are more of them out there than we think, and then I said, "No, he won't."

Because that's where the change starts, guys. It doesn't start with demonizing men. It doesn't start with chalking the entire gender off with an "oh, men are such pigs!" It starts at dinner table conversations, it starts with changing the way that we look at things, and the way we talk about stuff. It starts with having conversations that aren't fun, that are a bit awkward, even...and it starts with creating standards that we know human beings are capable and intelligent enough to reach, and holding them accountable.

Boys will be boys.

And boys will be good, respectful, kind, gentle. Boys will be those things, girls too, if we make that standard.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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