The dreaded catcall. You’re walking down the street on your way somewhere important, and some asshole drives by and feels it’s necessary to yell out the window and remind you of your station in society as a sexual object. Oh, what a thrill. What a darling compliment.
Then take the fact that people in Joplin drive literally everywhere so it’s a downright spectacle to see someone walking and pair that with the general ignorance of a woman’s point of view and this town becomes hotbed for catcalling.
Catcalling incidents can range from annoying to infuriating to terrifying. Many women have been physically threatened by catcallers when they have told them off or even just refused to acknowledge them. It’s scary. But in the words of Caitlin Moran: “We just need to look [the patriarchy] in the eye, squarely, for a minute, and then start laughing at it.”
Below are four stories of when catcalling was actually pretty funny.
“After a lifetime of being cat called/objectified/publicly degraded by men, I’ve grown entirely sick of it. Lately my outrage at this treatment has reached such a level that I cannot be silent anymore. It takes courage to overcome my timidity, but I think responding to these men in a rude manner is the best way to let them know we don’t like or accept being treated like objects. So, I’ve been responding with ‘FUCK YOU’ or ‘FUCK OFF’ or ‘SUCK MY DICK’ and I think you get the idea. I don’t know if being vulgar is really taking the high road, but when they put you on the low road without your permission maybe it is best to respond in kind. Let them know they didn’t win. Anything is better than being silent and accepting it right? I realize this could anger them enough to attack you, but I guess I just don’t care anymore. Why should I live my life in fear of men attacking me? OK SO here’s the funny story part. A few weeks ago I was walking home from the bar with a friend and I heard a male voice behind us shout, ‘HEY GIRLS WAIT UP.’ My immediate response was ‘FUCK OFF’ without even looking back. I assumed it was a creepy guy following us as this is per the norm literally every time I walk down my street. Turns out, it was a cop who was looking for some criminal on the run. He gave a description and asked if we had seen the perp, to which we politely replied we had not. Towards the end of our conversation the cop looked at me and asked “Why did you to tell me to fuck off?” I laughed and apologized, and explained that I assumed it was a creep trying to follow us home. He looked puzzled as if the thought had never crossed his mind (must be nice) and said, “Oh ok gotcha.” Looking back I am grateful I didn’t get in trouble for mouthing off, but I am sort of proud of what I did. You would think a police officer, of all people, would understand the sort of shit women experience walking home late at night but apparently he was clueless as to why we might not appreciate a strange man approaching us from behind and yelling at us to wait up. Lesson is: Don’t yell at cops on purpose lol, but don’t hesitate to give some attitude to anyone who thinks they have a right to cat call you.”
“At my job, ‘all staff’ meetings mean the early bird gets the good parking spot, the chair as far away from the coordinator as possible, and going through the snack line without getting stared at before settling in your spot. Well, I would surely end up sitting with the coordinators this particular morning because on my way I spilled my coffee all over my floorboard! And, if you know me, you know I didn’t give up there — I pulled into the closest gas station to get my replacement coffee and clean up my floorboard. I finally get to the main office and am relegated to parking lot the next block over. So, there I am, coffee in hand, power walking down the street to my meeting, when I hear it—the catcalling. ‘Woo! Hey hottie!’ I hear from behind me. I wish I could say I turned around and told them off, but instead, I just kept walking. ‘Hey!’ I hear again from behind and whip around, pissed off, only to see my elderly coworker Jean behind me dying of laughter (she knows how much I despise cat calling). I begin to jokingly hit her with my purse, then chuckle along with her. I could not believe I didn’t recognize her voice!”
“A funny time I was catcalled actually involved my sister, Cheyanne, too (*cough* ^). It all started on a lazy Saturday afternoon and we decided to get lunch and drinks from 609. We were getting our buzz on, and started ranting to each other about how annoying catcalling is. At the time, the #areyouokaygirl? movement was happening and was really bringing awareness to how insulting & degrading catcalling is. All catcalling does is reinforce that a woman is an object up for display to be taken/commented upon by any man who feels entitled to do so – like say, commenting on a piece of artwork in a museum rather than having respect for an actual human being going about their day. So this was the general nature of our conversation. We paid our tabs and decided to walk to the gay bar for more drinks. We’re walking down Sixth Street (where the I Am Joplin wall is) and two 12 YEAR OLD boys whiz past us on their bikes whistling and hollering at us! Without missing a beat or even looking at each other, my sister and I both started screaming, “Hey, fuck you!! You little pieces of shit!” etc., etc. Those boys looked scared to death, and we were hella pleased with ourselves for teaching them a lesson. Just at the moment we were about to start high fiving, two middle aged ladies in leggings and ankle weights power walked past us with highly disapproving looks on their faces. One them sarcastically sneared, “Nice, girls.” Needless to say, we just shrugged our shoulders and went into the bar, still pretty proud of ourselves. It’s sad that 12 year olds feel entitled to objectify women in their 20s, but the looks on their faces were priceless.”
“It was a warm Friday night and I had very important plans to get tipsy with my friends after a long week on non-stop work and staying on my grind. As I pull into the liquor store, I park my car, and innocently make my way to the door. That’s when I hear a male start talking to me from his car. ‘Hey girl! Want to come into my van?! I can give you what you really need.’ My face was blank for a solid 5 seconds before I did what I now consider the dumbest thing I could have done in that situation – I laughed. What an absurd thing to say to a young lady you have literally never seen in your life though, how could I help but laugh at the insanity of the situation!? And to top it off, I go in, choose my drinks of choice (I was buying a lot for many friends and I), go and check out, and the guy in line behind me tells me ‘I’d like to see how frisky you get when you’re done drinking all of that.’
PSA: Men, don’t talk to women like that when you don’t know them. Actually don’t talk to women like that period.”
Do you have a catcalling story you’d like published on JULIE? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org!