Getting catcalled, these tips might help you!
“I had to stop you. You’re so beautiful.”
“Damn girl that ass looks fine”
“I’m a very nice guy. I have a very large dick. So can I get an email?“
Urban dictionary defines cat-calling as “rude sexual remarks made by men passing women on the street. Usually “catcalls” are about the woman’s body as a whole or a certain feature.” Do you find this insulting? Well, it certainly is for me, and it just isn’t an insult but a deep-rooted fear of catcalling being turned into vulgar gestures, stalking and in some extreme cases molestation, and rape.
On our Instagram poll, we asked our followers have they had ever been catcalled? 81% said yes, and 19% said no. We further asked the countries where they experienced catcalling? From the US to Zambia, to Germany and Australia, we received an overwhelming response from around the world. Same story, different places. However, what forced us to pen down this article was a lived experience of a girl when she was 15-years-old which she shared with us on the Instagram DM.
She wrote, “It was the day after my 15th birthday, and I was working at this local coffee shop that was a few blocks from my house. I was wearing a pair of black leggings that went down to my ankles, a light blue oversized t-shirt and my Birkenstock Sandles. On the way to the coffee shop, I passed by a bar and grill place, but people mostly used it for the bar. A few guys on my way back whistled at me and said things like, “Hey girl, love the outfit.” And “bet it would look better on my floor.” And things like that, and when I ignored them, they started to get mad and say I was a bitch and a slut for wearing that kind of outfit. Luckily for me, these other, very much less drunk, guys come out and see/hear what these men are doing and start to yell at the other men, and I was finally able to walk away. It was really scary because I was only 15, and I had heard stories of things that started like that and got way worse. I’m very thankful for the men that came out and practically saved my life.”
We shiver to think, what would have happened if those men who stood up for her weren’t there? What would have happened if this act of catcalling became life-threatening? Therefore, we decided to bring a range of things that to do if caught in similar circumstances.
Let’s begin by saying there’s no right or wrong way to respond. You have to listen to yourself. What is your gut telling you? If it says smile and continues walking, you do that. If it says to look down and do a brisk walk, you do that. If you feel safe enough to choose to respond, then you can try these options below.
1. Set Boundaries
Make eye contact with a firm voice and strong body language, it will surprise your harasser. “It tends to work well because then they’re too shocked to retaliate,” says Holly Kearl, founder of Stop Street Harassment and author of “Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming For Women. “It forces them to think about what they’ve said or done.”
In a steady, loud and clear tone, tell your harasser that his or her behaviour is not okay. Try negative statements like, “No, leave me alone.” “I don’t appreciate it.” “What you’re saying is disrespectful.” “Go away.”
After you’ve made your point, said those negative statements, keep moving, Don’t let the harasser think it’s an opening to a conversation.
In the worst-case scenario, if the harasser follows you, make a fake call and say, “yes, I have reached, where are you?” or “Oh, you are already here I am at so and so place reaching in 5”. Need be, press the emergency number and call the police. Don’t delay.
Another thing to remember is to resist the urge to swear. Often cursing can backfire. “While it may work in some instances, this type of reaction is the most likely to make the harasser respond with anger and violence,” Kearl says.
2. Involve the Bystanders
After carefully examining the situation, finding it safe enough to respond, you can directly ask the bystanders to intervene, which is to say, start talking loudly to the harasser, repeat the words he said to you and show your disgust loudly. Draw the attention of people around you. Involve them often the harasser back off when he and/or she sees other people getting involved.
Take out your phone and document everything around you. Click pictures, make a video, record the license plate of the car, any and everything that surrounds the harasser. Many find it to be empowering to turn the lens off of them and onto the person harassing them. It often has the potential to be hugely transformative. If it feels right to you then do it. It doesn’t work that way for everyone so ask yourself, “Does it feel right for me?” or “Is there another way to respond?”
You can also ask a bystander to take videos for you. There is no shame in asking for help. It is not a sign of weakness but strength.
Once the ordeal is over, remind yourself that there’s no such thing as a perfect response. You did your best at that moment. It was not your fault, and it’s time for you to recover and take care of yourself. Here’s what you can do:
- Share it with someone you love. Talk everything out with your loved one. Speaking is healing. Don’t let it sink in without curing it completely. You can also choose to share on social media to make others aware of what happened. Share.
- Acknowledge. Accept. Give Time. Move on. It is the mantra to a happy living. Don’t run from what happened to you. Accept and acknowledge. Give yourself time to process the entire event. Keep reminding that this wasn’t your fault. Then learn some affirmations to regain control and steadily move back to your day to day life.
You’re amazing. Keep rocking!
Written By Prakriti S