The Orion

Catcalling: it’s inexcusable

Getty Images photo by kbeis.

Getty Images

Getty Images photo by kbeis.

Rayanne Painter

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If you have a female or feminine body, you already know. It’s terrifying no matter where you are or who you’re with.

It can happen anywhere. Walking home from class, walking into the grocery store or just in public: “Hey baby, why don’t you give me a smile and come on over here?” or just a yell in the dark from a car passing by.

This form of street harassment, catcalling, has become so normalized in our culture that I have no doubt when I say that every feminine presenting person has experienced this in their lifetime, and probably frequently. It’s something that we live with and are expected to cope with because no matter how many times we ignore the perpetrator or yell back at them in anger, they won’t stop. Society has built them up on this pedestal and many of them don’t know what they’re doing is wrong or hurtful.

This type of act is not a compliment. From somebody who’s been living in a college town for a few years now, I’ve often witnessed the type of harassment on the street that is encouraged by either the way I or my friends are dressed. Of course, there’s that thought while I’m getting ready for the night, that I might experience catcalling or harassment if I go out like this. But I have to stop myself: why should I be the one censoring myself for the misbehavior of men on the street? I’m just living my life and that goes for every person choosing to dress a certain way. Nothing anybody does should warrant sexual harassment, period.

We need to be calling out the men in this instance. And that’s not to say that every man partakes in harassment. But these men catcalling or harassing people aren’t always creepy strangers in the shadows, a lot of the times they can be young students or people that we interact with in everyday life. If you’re a man and feel this doesn’t apply, then my words are a call to action directly to you. Your position is unique because you have a more powerful voice in the prevention of harassment from your peers and friends who might partake. They won’t listen to us, but they might listen to you if you intervene as a bystander.

This isn’t just a college town problem, it’s a world issue. For example, in a New York Times article, it’s reported that a campaign called “Catcalls of NYC” has surfaced over the past few months. In this campaign, Instagram users send in pictures of chalk writing of what types of harassment they’ve experienced. Hundreds of people with no correlation except for their location in the New York City area all have experiences with street harassment and it’s disturbing how many people endure this in such a similar fashion.

It’s disheartening that we’re still at this point. But with how women have been treated in media and society recently, I’m not surprised. Is it too much to ask to be treated like a human? We just want to feel safe in this world.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.

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Catcalling: it’s inexcusable