They Do Exist.

Understanding Why Street Harassment and Cat-calls Scrape At Our Hearts

Editor’s Note: Street harassment seems to be like the small scab that gets picked at and ripped off, little by little. Most say that not big enough or deep enough to take it seriously, but I beg to differ. Anytime something evokes strong negative emotions, it’s big enough and important enough to talk about. So today, I’m writing a bit about my experience, sharing some emails I’ve received, and asking for your comments! – Lauren

A couple days ago I got an email from a girl from California, studying abroad in Europe.

“I really cannot deal with the street harassment I’ve gotten in Europe. I’ve been called names (from slightly humorous “beyonce’s” to really hurtful sexual names, gestures, and slurs) and I’m really just sick of it. I’ve been harassed and followed until I’ve given my number to guys literally every week of being here and although I’m having fun, I’m also a bit afraid to go outside. Three men followed me home last month and they waited outside of my house for an hour until I called the police, who basically excused their behavior because they were drunk. I don’t really know what to do – I [honestly feel] that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate with my clothing. I have really long natural hair and so I decided to straighten it to garner less attention, but that didn’t work. I met a man who I thought I could trust and he ended up using me and getting really upset when I wouldn’t have sex with him. I feel like I can’t trust any men I meet. I’m feeling a bit broken right now and I’m wondering if you have any advice as to how I can try to toughen up for the rest of my time here so that I can enjoy it instead of crying all over my apartment. I was hoping that God could help me forget about the opposite sex for a while [while studying in Europe ] so I’m not consumed with wanting a man/being afraid of them, but I’m still sitting in Starbucks and feeling like I want someone to hold me, hoping the man God created to love me will come around the corner.”

I know this ache that seems to conflict from every angle. Wanting nothing to do with men, but wanting nothing more than a good man. It’s in studying this conflict that we find the truth: The war is not one of gender, but of the individual. When I was 22, someone told me, “the day I stopped viewing people by their gender and instead by their actions, my life changed forever.” And my life changed the day I heard that.

Still, being the on the receiving end of degrading sexualized comments can wedge a bit more disgust between myself and the male race. Yesterday, I asked you girls on our Facebook how you felt and responded when you were sexually harassed on the street.

Most of you replied that you ignored it, and kept their eyes down. Avoid eye contact, and simply keep moving as quickly as possible. A few women shared that they reply with clear, “that’s not appropriate” or coals-of-kindness, “thank you – God bless!” in hopes of offsetting their vulgarity. But all of you said that it resulted in these feelings:

Photo by Niki Zimmerman / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

– humiliated
– ashamed
– angry
– helpless
– scared
– taken advantage of
– hateful
– unsafe
– belittled/objectified
– intimidated

On top of this, if you’re a woman who has been sexually assaulted or abused, even a series of honks or a vulgar shout can feel like knives scraping the raw flesh of your heart. There are women who may find it a compliment, and others often tell us to “suck it up and understand that you’re just an attractive woman,” – but this only serves to echo the devastating voice of, “this is your fault” or “stop bothering us with your imaginary problems” that we’ve heard after rape, molestation, infidelity, abandonment, or any experience where we have been hurt badly as a woman.

Note: It doesn’t take rape or extreme sexual assault to experience physical or emotional pain because of a man. Being hurt by men can come from our fathers, brothers, community, guy friends, boyfriends, a bad breakup, anywhere. And they may not have been malicious about it. If you feel like your heart is overly sensitive, accept it and own it. You were created with that heart for a very intentional purpose, and it is GOOD.

Clinically, depression is often described as anger or severe disappointment turned inwards. If we are angry at one man, certain men, or all men – particularly in relationships where we have not been able to express our anger or hurt to them – street harassment can be an instant trigger for depression and any of the coping mechanisms we are relying on. This means that if you are beating yourself up for having such a strong emotional response to a cat-call on the street, I will hold your hand and say that it’s okay, and that you are not a weak woman. You are simply a hurt woman. And hurt is not synonymous with weak.

Street harassment is something I battle with weekly as a young woman living in Los Angeles. My friend Rhiannon told me recently, “As a 24 year old married woman, I’m afraid to walk down my street. I’m afraid of getting the honks, catcalls, and stares I get when go for a jog at the park. Living in a tiny apartment in LA with my husband, with no balcony, or terrace to speak of, leaves me longing for just some time outdoors. But I become a prisoner of my home because I am terrified of walking down to the park down our street. Even if I wear baggy clothes, I’m scared some man will stop me, or stare at me, and it would be all my fault for dressing this way, for putting lust in his heart.”

I don’t have the answer, but I have two thoughts, and I covet your opinions, stories, feelings, suggestions, revelations, comforts that you have on the subject. So please comment!

There seem to be two parts to handling street harassment:

1. Responding externally (to men). recommends responding with clear, declarative statements, such as, “Stop ________” and “Do not whistle at me.” I personally am scared of responding to men and having them become violent, but sometimes “just taking it” puts us again in the place of the voiceless victim, and does additional damage to our hearts. What do you do, or say?

2. Responding internally (to ourselves). I feel angry and taken advantage of. I remember jokes that men I’ve cared about have made, implying that all I’m good for is sex. My skin crawls. My posture changes. I feel objectified. And I feel worthless. BUT. I need to start paying more attention to what “truths” I passively accept in the moment:  “All men are animals,” “I hate men,” “all men want from me is sex,” “all I’m good for is sex,” “I hate being a woman sometimes,” and on and on. Sometimes they’re just feelings, but I want to try to put words to them. Knowing how to identify feelings and emotions is invaluable.

Passively agreeing (which is what happens unless you identity the False thought and consciously counteract it with a True thought) means we begin to accept truths into our worldview, our perspective, and our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us – without realizing it. It’s kind of like throwing a party, letting every person on the street walk in, and then looking around and saying, “but I didn’t invite any of them to my party!!”

As women who have had our boundaries broken and crossed by men in the past, we often let all of these negative thoughts and feelings in, believing we don’t have the right or ability to stop them. The goal is to re-build our mental and emotional boundaries so that they stop at the front door on their own, before they scrape at our hearts. But we have to re-create the door that was destroyed, in order to keep them out.

Every time I feel taken advantage or made worthless by a crude gesture or cat-call on the street, I subconsciously agree to what that man is communicating, unless I consciously disagree. Even though I would tell you that I’m not ‘just good for sex,’ and that my husband wants me for things other than sex, I still feel taken advantage of, simply because other men want to behave that way – and up until this point, I’ve felt helpless to fight this feeling. So, I’m making a commitment to myself to start paying close attention to what I think and feel every time I’m whistled at and called names. And to fight those thoughts with truth about who I am, what I’m worth, what my husband believes of me, and what God says about me.

What will you be doing? How do you respond to men? What thoughts go through your head when you’re cat-called? Do you feel helpless? What truths, statements, or verses do you fight your thoughts with?

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82 Responses

  1. Jennifer

    I so understand this post! I've been hit on for so many years, often by the same type of guys. When im around them I just feel like im going to be an object to them, whether they say anything to me or not. I get angry. I want for someone to love me, not LUST me! I have started to feel that way around men.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:06 am

  2. Jennifer

    I have something to ask anyone here about, if they have ever felt like this before, on something im about to say. I've only told one person about this:
    I was waiting at a bus stop w/ a bunch of people (police were around too, Its a downtown area) and this young guy i saw, came across the street and struck up a conversation w/ me. He seemed nice. He was interested in me, I lied and said I had a bf (only because I thought he would leave me alone then). He then said: "Can I hold you?" I looked at him confused, before I could answer He said: "Not like this" (motioning his hands as if my head were on his chest). He grabbed my waist and held me close to him. It happened so fast I was shocked. I wanted him to stop, but at the same time I didn't, that's what I am ashamed of…why did I feel that way? I've had things happen before w/ guys but it was never rape so i've always thought it wasn't a big deal. These past few posts are starting to show me that's not true. Wow.. God bless you guys for your posts.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:07 am

  3. As a guy, my blood boils knowing women are subjected to this disrespect and disdain from men (it's a problem all over the place)! >:( I know it's a major problem for women, but even as a guy in a small mid-western town, when I've been out walking for exercise, I've occasionally had people drive by and make rude, snide (and frankly, downright stupid) comments about me. Ladies, it is NOT your fault. Those men will answer to God for their attitudes, words, and actions.

    This is an issue of the heart. BTW, although very rare, I've had a few cat calls made to me by women, so it does work both ways; but yes, women are suffering the vast brunt of this. >:(

    May 17, 2012 at 8:32 am

  4. Nicola

    Great post! When cat-called or anything in the street, I tend to just completely blank them – if possible, I don’t even look at them – and just keep walking. The space I find this kind of behaviour the most difficult is in clubs on a night out. It’s in these kinds of scenarios that I find it difficult to deal with inappropriate attention. On one occasion last year, when I had only been at university a few weeks, I was out dancing with my housemates at our Students Union, and a guy came up behind me and put his hand all the way up my skirt. When I turned around, shocked, I just saw the back of a guy’s head disappearing at quite a pace through the crowd. It made me so angry – how can anyone possibly think that that is a reasonable thing to do to someone?! What gives them the right to touch me without my permission, ESPECIALLY in that way?! It’s partially this kind of behaviour that is the reason why I very rarely go out to clubs or bars.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

  5. Abby

    Thanks for sharing this, Lauren. I wrote about this very subject recently on my own blog ( It is good to hear other women's stories, as difficult and frustrating as they are, and as hopeless as the problem seems. I often take for granted what little street harassment I actually experience as an American, compared with other women all around the world, who experience it on a much more serious, damaging level. It's all serious and damaging.

    May 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

  6. Katherine

    Research indicates that most men catcall to exude their heterosexuality to their group of male friends. Research also tells us that men are less likely to repeat their actions if they are called out on in by a male friend! They do it to impress the guys, so when the guys turn around and say "what are you thinking? that is not okay. Leave her alone!", he won't be as likely to repeat the offense.

    Knowing this, I believe our greatest allies against catcalling are men. Stepping in, just to say, "back off!", can be a powerful agent of change. Catcalling should be just as horrifying to society as cannibalism. Imagine if a woman gets catcalled, and every man in the street stops, points a finger at the perpetrator, and gives him hell. That would be effective. So dear male friends, please don't be bystanders!

    May 17, 2012 at 11:48 am

  7. Thank you Lauren for this post and for continuing to bring these kind of issues into the light. It is so powerful and so important.

    For me, I have a couple different approaches. A lot of times I tend to ignore them and don't give them the time of day. But the times where I feel someone cross a boundary, I get incredibly angry because I know no one has a right to touch me or make me feel uncomfortable without my permission. Many a time I have turned and looked a guy in the eye and firmly said, "DO NOT TOUCH ME." It tends to be in situations where I'm out and a lot of times, alcohol is involved for the guy. So my response might not even sink in for them. But to me in sends the message that my body is valuable, it is not yours to touch or talk about, and your behavior is NOT OK. At first I think I used to be afraid I would hurt a guy's feelings by being so harsh or direct, but now I just feel empowered and proud to stand up for myself. (And now I mostly avoid going out dancing and to those kind of places because it is pretty inevitable those types of situations will happen there). Obviously I wish women didn't have to deal with these type of situations at all in the first place, but my hope and prayer is that we can value ourselves and send a message to men that they're inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated by us.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

  8. Ooglick

    Honestly I think the best method of getting them to stop would be to go right up to the guy and ask them why they are doing that, and tell them firmly that it's rude and then walk away. However, I can never bring myself to do more than just block it out and keep walking because I'm not sure what the reaction would be. Probably just shock, but maybe I'd get unlucky and they'd be faster than me at recovering from surprises and go after me. I can't really predict that.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

  9. Tessa

    I've always worked with a lot of college-aged guys, and while they don't usually touch me, they often say inappropriate things to me. I'm pretty sure they do it just because they know it will make me blush. I don't really know how to respond so I usually just laugh it off or make some snarky comment and walk away. How am I supposed to stand up for myself and tell them to back off when I still have to see them all the time?

    May 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

  10. Liz

    I think its so important that we make sure men as a whole realize how unacceptable this kind of behavior is. I cringe when I think how I reacted the first time I was cat-called while on a walk. I actually smiled and giggled. I was so thrown off and confused that I responded in the way that had he the mind to, could have given him permission to do more. It's so jarring the first couple of times and it took some time before it sunk in just how awful and violated it made me feel.

    So let's talk to our young women about how to respond forcefully and let's talk to our men about what this kind of behavior does to our hearts. Thank you for another wonderful and thought provoking post!

    May 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm

  11. kelsey6791

    Well, this couldn't be a more appropriate post. I'm going abroad to Europe next month and though I'm really excited, I do expect to be cat-called and grabbed but I've been ignoring that fact for a while. I do understand that in Paris where I'm going, it's inappropriate to wear certain clothing because they are regarded as vulgar so I have to be respectful of the culture and dress accordingly (mostly black and no shorts, tank tops or short skirts). I'm also a young, attractive black girl and I feel that in Europe we do tend to get more attention which can be flattering to plain disgusting. I think Sara really does handle situations like this really well and I will have to remember that for future reference. The thing about catcalling to me is it makes men look SO bad. They become creatures instead of humans, interpreting things as simple as smiles as permission to violate me. The fact that I have to keep a quiet and calm demeanor on the streets to avoid rude attention from men is simply ridiculous. I should be allowed to laugh, smile, and look beautiful with my friends without being stalked and harassed!

    May 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  12. It's so sad to hear how common an occurrence this is, today. I mean, when did these men learn that yelling out inappropriate remarks at a woman was ok? It's also sad to see women doing this to men; I think it's just as wrong and they don't have a right to do it, either. But it's nice to know that other women experience this, and we're all together in working towards a solution! I think it would definitely help if guys (and girls) talk to each other about it, and call each other out on the inappropriate behavior. The couple of times I've been in a car with a girl who verbally harasses a guy on the street, I usually say something along the lines of, "Why'd you do that? I really don't like it when men scream and whistle at me from their cars. It makes me feel awful." I've never seen a sudden big change of heart in these girls but, I do see them consider what I'm saying; and I think that's a step forward.

    As far as dealing with coworkers making inappropriate remarks, I actually have had some success in this area. I've had a MANAGER of all people, make really sexually inappropriate remarks towards me (and it was my first day on the job!). I felt awful and it made me feel like they were violating me in some way, or taking something from me that wasn't their to take. My method hasn't worked every time (since sometimes it's been really immature teenagers catcalling or harassing me, and there's no way their going to lose face in front of their friends) but I usually just call them out on the behavior. Since I'm the queen of thinking-of-the-perfect-thing-to-say-hours-later, I usually just say, "HEY! (say it loudly so you get other people's attention)That was really gross. Don't say anything like that to me ever again." That usually ends the abuse (USUALLY, not always unfortunately). But most often, they're so embarrassed or taken aback that I didn't just giggle and look down (I totally get when other girls say that's all they can do in the moment, I've done it too).

    May 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm

  13. Really great post – definitely brought up some things I hadn't thought about before. Normally when I get cat-called at I make eye contact and glare back or ignore them or flip them off (not the right reaction I know but sometimes I can't help myself! haha).

    Normally I become most uncomfortable by unwanted attention from guys in bars whenever I go out with my friends. I have had to, on numerous occasions, back guys off of me or my friends with some very firm words. I try to be nice about it but I'm a confrontational person and I have no problem standing up for myself or for my friends when I feel like they or I am being mistreated.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm

  14. Philip

    As a man, I would like to suggest an idea. I make no assumptions, but if I am correct in my theory of why most men behave this way, I might be able to put a spin on things. We hear a lot about the importance of being raised with a father figure present. A lot of people are not. Even if the father is physically present, they often times have no idea how to be a father, and that has caused untold pain. The father teaches the son how to treat a lady. But the other side of the coin is that Mothers are equally important. Men need that feminine nurturing and love, and while most children are raised by their mothers, there is still an immense deficit of mothering going on. Without that womanly confirmation in a man's life, he grows up feeling insecure and inadequate. As he grows up devoid of female affirmation, he can easily become two things: desperate and angry. He needs female attention and affirmation, while simultaneously objectifying them. Anger is so often a defense mechanism for pain. Have you ever admired someone and then finally met them, had them kind of blow you off, and you think "Well, I guess he's an asshole"? Imagine that over the course of 25 years. So, if women won't give them attention, they'll take it. They may have even convinced themselves that they are paying you a compliment, but it's still coming from a place of pain and frustration.

    Here is my suggestion: You will never get every single man to stop harassing you. No matter how many times you respond, there will always be more men out there. But, if you can find it in your heart to begin feeling compassion for those men, I think your world will change. Imagine the feeling you get when you hear a baby cry, and no one is comforting it. If you can somehow look at the those men with that kind of understanding, it just might help ease the pain that you feel. I would even suggest that you make eye contact and show compassion. It would be the last thing they would expect, and I honestly can't imagine them reacting negatively. I believe by doing that, you would be speaking to a part of their soul that they didn't know existed, and it would catch them completely off guard. They are used to being ignored, or looked at with anger. It doesn't make them stop. But what if the response was one of "I'm sorry you're in pain".

    I don't know. It's an idea. I used to whistle at girls for a very short time when I was 13 because I liked how loud I could shrill and I was hanging out with older guys that did it (this was in Ecuador). So, I honestly don't know why adults do it. I got my due payback when I moved to Peru and started getting hit on and wolf whistled at by girls on the street. I hated it. It made me feel like meat, so I can honestly say I somewhat understand what you deal with, and I'm sorry. But the fact remains that you can't change the world, you can only change how you experience it.

    God bless.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

  15. One time in college I was leaning over the bar waiting for a beer and a friend of mine's boyfriend stuck his hand up my skirt and his finger actually made it's way under my thong and right to my lady parts before I could turn around. It seems like it would take awhile for someone to make his way "passed the gates", but it was so crazy I couldn't believe what I was feeling. What was really shocking was that my friend was standing right beside him when he did it. I don't know if she didn't see him do it or what, but she didn't say a thing. He didn't try to get away, and he didn't look like her felt guilty for getting caught. He stood there looking at me like, "what are you gonna do?" I wanted to cry, scream, hit him, run away. But I didn't do anything at all. He got away with it. I felt like it was my fault for wearing a short skirt. I wish I could say that was the only time a man touched me inappropriately, or did or said things that hurt and wounded me. I can't tell you how much reading The Good Women Project every day has helped me (and other women I know) heal and find a place where I feel understood. Thank you!

    May 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  16. hmm, I can't honestly say that this really bothers me that much. Of course it's not pleasant, but it doesn't upset me. I normally don't respond, just keep walking and ignore them. I have a friend who will say things like "God bless". I admire her response, I don't necessarily feel a need to adopt it.

    The thing that does bother me is bars/clubs/dancing when guys take inappropriate liberties. Like a couple of nights ago when I was salsa dancing and one guy was absolutely 100% dirty dancing with me. Then he propositioned me. I now realize I should have told him to back off or stop the dance, and I will next time. I wasn't comfortable with it and I shouldn't have allowed him to get away with it. (I did turn down the invitation, at which point he let go of me and started dancing properly with a bit of space between us!)

    May 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

  17. Lora

    Cat calls on the street don't bother me, I just keep on walking but when men touch you or do inappropriate things when your out at a club that's when I draw the line. I tell them I am not yours to touch and don't do it again. Most men back off, some fined it funny that I would have the nerve to say such a thing to them like I should be grateful they are giving me the time of day.

    May 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

  18. Curious

    I really don't mean this comment to be rude so please don't hear it that way. I really am just curious… It seems that a lot of this happens in clubs, bars or places of that atmosphere. Should we stay away from those kinds of places as a way to avoid being touched or talked to in inappropriate ways? I know we can't help walking down the street but to me it sounds easy to stay away from clubs/bars. I know I am naive about this so I would love to hear thoughts??

    May 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

  19. carsinee

    Oh wow this is so awesome! I mean not the fact that this kind of abuse happens but that im not alone in feeling this way, i feel like it really has warped my view of men for example walking down the street i try not to catch their eyes.

    Another common experience walking into a club just wanting to dance with friends and being harassed/looked at like you are a piece of meat , for a long time i would just get angry and even violent but now i just opt out of those places and try and not let those men warp my perceptions of all men out there….. It really wears you down, and stops you from enjoying your beauty instead of being radiant you play down who god made you to be whether its boyish clothes, poor posture or covering everything up….why are we make concessions for someone elses problem?

    I remember a male co-worker complaining about why women had to have female only gyms, i really felt like crying at the ignorance of this man, in the end all i said was 'well you clearly arnt a women' ….because even if its just a look…we all know that crushing feeling inside..

    love and blessings to everyone!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

  20. Pamela

    Wow. I love what you said in your post about being hurt by men… All men.

    A couple of years ago I was at a prayer retreat and I came to this realisation that I hated men. Like a deep, hatred of what men had done to women, are still doing, and then in the middle of my seething I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me words from Jesus. “I was a man. Can you forgive me?”

    Of course, Jesus doesn’t need to be forgiven, but he showed me an important truth. Not all men are bad. I need to start believing in the good in the men in my life, and speaking that good over them, and believing that I will marry a great guy, who will be a man after God’s heart, and might not be perfect but will love me and I will honour him. And he will be worthy of that honour. And I can see some great guys in my church, who really try to be good men. There’s hope!

    May 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

  21. Tiana

    I usually avoid eye contact and walk past them. If I don't acknowledge them, some may get defensive and start calling me names. Sometimes, I may say "hello" as I'm walking by. I don't stop to engage them because most of them are being disrespectful. I get annoyed, and sometimes, I don't even feel comfortable walking past a group of guys, especially black guys. (I am a black woman – just in case someone thinks I'm being prejudiced).

    May 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  22. shell

    In my 20's and feeling uncomfortable with how other women looked so upset when their significant others stared at me, I did an experiment. I watched how others treated me in my regular clothes (tight) and then how they treated me in baggier clothes. The difference was remarkable. I could play a game in my head that told me I can do what I want, when I want, how I want, the world is not fair or I could be present and see the effect that I was having on the world. I chose the latter. I began to dress everyday in ways that felt good, not out of conditioning that I needed to be "attractive"/attract others, but in ways that felt that honored the male-female union. My life changed. I became more real, had more spontaneous relationships, was more comfortable with myself in the world and more loving towards everyone else. I dropped baggage I did not know I had. It took me 7 years to replace my wardrobe as my consciousness matured. It was worth every hard, eye-opening moment :).

    May 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm

  23. Samantha

    There is so much truth here I don’t know where to begin. I’m not one to comment on blogs by the Lord really welled something in my spirit. It’s so clear that being called named and yelled at on the streets has ruined us emotionally and spiritually in so many ways. We believe the lie that we are only good enough as what we are seen to be and instead of being seen as “beautiful” or “wanted” we’re degraded to a commodity to be used and passed around. As women, we get so angry (hurt, offended, ect) because it’s the very cry of our hearts. We were each intricately woven by a Maker who knows everything about us and still desires to know us more by knowing Him and letting ourselves be known by Him. There’s no easy way to cope. Our earthly bodies are just a preparation of the goodness that is to come and in a fallen world how can we expect to understand the prowling of a crude boy, who isn’t even worth calling a man. I haven’t dealt with this issue specifically in awhile but cling fast to the truth that you do know, whether you think it’s much or not. I’m not discounting the pain and the heart ache because I can recount many tears shed over the same matter but the Father has created you beautifully and with a purpose to be able to get to know Him more in these places of heartache, that’s where our identity changes. As much as I want to smack the creep down the street, I want to know myself as the princess Jesus sees me as.

    Is it too bold to say, Jesus, I want to give up my right to be respected to know you, because I know you weren’t always respected too?

    August 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

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  25. kay

    i so appreciate this, having lived in a foreign country where cat-calling is the norm. i don't have stories of deep hurt or abuse and it still makes me feel shame and embarrassment, and frankly, it's not flattering. it makes me feel objectified and definitely not sexy.

    when i'm in my home country it still bothers me, but then i usually retort with something sarcastic like, "TAKE ME TO PROMMMM!" (i'm almost 30). it doesn't solve anything, but it makes me feel a little bit better about it. :)

    August 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm

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  27. mel

    Thank you so much for this blog.

    I have, until now felt so lonely for years wondering what my problem was and why I couldn’t just ‘ignore them’, ‘keep my head down’ or even worse ‘take it as a compliment’. I shouldn’t, but feel the need to add that I am always demurely dressed and never go to bars/ club/ nightclubs – I stopped going years ago because of this kind of behaviour and almost always ended up in some sort of altercation with men.

    Until yesterday, I had learnt to endure the pain of the stares, vulgar comments and grabbing by just ignoring them but if I’m perfectly honest with you – I much prefer, in one way or another, to give these low-lives a piece of my mind. Somehow it makes me feel better. Like I haven’t let them get away with it entirely. The shock on their faces, however, surprises and disturbs me because it means that at some point, somewhere, some unfortunate female gave this behaviour the ‘green light’ and as a result, women like me who genuinely feel like throwing up in the presence of these ‘men’ are subjected to their leering etc etc.

    I walked onto a train station platform yesterday about 7mins walk from my house (at midday) and by this point had already experienced 2 separate incidences of public humiliation. But this was to be the worst. 3 men in a group first stared as I walked down the stairs, one of them jeered and looked me up and down as he passed me to go up the stairs but one, the bravest and eldest of the 3 made a sickening comment (about my breasts). I had ignored his friend and I was ignoring him until he repeated it – louder this time. Bare in mind that I am at present heavily and visibly pregnant 7months+ and this is a daily occurence. I go home to my husband and ask him why men feel the need to act this way and how I can stop it but he’s just as disgusted, angered and shocked by all this as I am. Anyway, I feel I stooped below this mans level by making a gross yet effective comment about his mother, followed by saying ‘if he had one’ because he would/ should no better otherwise and that seem to set him off. His friend had to hold him back from hitting me. He got the support of other people on the platform namely a pair of old ladies ho told me off for answering back.

    I wish I hadn’t but I can’t bear it anymore.
    I am self-employed and trying to work extra hard before baby arrives but have been told to, and I’m considering staying indoors. I’m scared to leave the house for fears of what these miscreants might do and when I might finally snap.
    Advice from family has been to ‘turn the other cheek’ but this is happening more and more often as I advance in my pregnancy. Very scared and unsure about raising a little girl amidst this current state of vile behaviour and flagrant disrespect.

    September 7, 2012 at 1:15 am

  28. JustMe

    I am not an attractive woman. I have never been cat called "positively" but I have been randomly verbally abused by men on the street many times about my ugliness! I have even had stones thrown at me whilst being called ugly. It really frustrates me that some men feel they can comment on how a woman looks, we get abuse if we are beautiful, we get abuse if we don't measure up to beauty.

    September 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm

  29. Superman

    Feminists, like a million other women should have been re-educated to the facts that whistling should not be mistaken for "harassment" just as compliments are not harassment either. And there are those of us who have been badly hurt as a man, because we have these wiseguy bitches who think that got a right to make anything thats having to do with sexuality a crime. Sexual intercourse shouldn't be a crime but the devil told the satanic womens movement to brainwash all of you, and all of you got played like a deck of cards. Satan has told everyone that whistles on sidewalks is so-called street harassment. If they just whistled and gave a compliment, and decided to have a normal conversation should have been innocent enough. Otherwise everyones overreaction is from the evil spirits of Lucifer. Satan pulled the wool over millions of gullible women who should apologize for falsely accusing men of imaginary sexual harassment which does not exist, because it has nothing to do with sexuality, only your lack of perception. Feminists cannot tell the difference between a revolution and a rebellion, just like Hulk Hogan, no distinctions made between compliments,sex, grabbing, etc. and hassling. Harassing men for complimenting you is not O.K.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:05 am

  30. Superman

    Cat calls are compliments, are not offensive, and frankly not obnoxious, which alot of women who react to them that way are. Passing judgement on me for a compliment can wedge a bit more disgust between me and the female race.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:13 am

  31. Goliath

    If we are all created in Gods image then, why is everyone on here listening to the unclean spirits and Belial by complaining constantly about the compliments their bosoms,cleavage, rearends are getting as well as being whistled at for being lovely when you have said thank you, but you don't why?

    November 7, 2012 at 1:18 am

  32. Thaumaturge

    Plasma in Danbury, Ct. has a few self-deluded women who love taking mens money for rubbing their rears against their private willies doing immoral dancing, thinking they are strippers when they are not, nobody should take away someones money just to dance with them is not O.K. And why would a young female downstairs say they are strippers? Do they have an ulterior motive for dancing with the customers that involves them creaming their jeans, and the only way to make that happen is to scam them a few hundred dollars for it? What aabout being hassled without commenst orcompliments? Sexual harassment is something the devil is telling the world compliments are, which it's not, thats a lie straight from the pits of hell. And when judgement day comes alot of feminsists and other people are going to be very sorry they passed judgement on men who played a part in why they were born, without who's seed they would not be here.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:30 am

  33. Samson

    Satan is really working through the wickedness of everyones imaginations hear. Falsely imagining that rape must mean forced unasked for sexual intercourse, every U.S. citizen is under the devils mind control concerning this. We would have a utopia if all women would tell themselves the truth that compliments on sidewalks, breasts, rearends, clothes etc. is not "being hassled" it's a figment of their imagination. And the devil is doing a good job of palying with their minds to imagine thing when they should have focused more on communal living instead of trivial thing like being grabbed by Don Vito, which I could feel sympathy for the guy, I have been wrongfully judged by women who are full of the devil, and sexual harassment is the devils law, and all of you love that law should be ashamed of yourselves. Roy Rogers said it best, the world would be a better place to live in, if everyone told the truth. Making compliments a crime and then complaining about it is not O.K., not even on this computer.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:45 am

  34. I'm really glad I found this post because it raises some really important issues of self-worth for me. I live in a city where the culture finds it acceptable for the men to be extremely forward with women. While, this has been an issue all of my life growing up in a military town, it seems to pervade the general culture that is presented to us through media and even twisted theology. The first time I can remember being approached was when I was 12 and a military man saw me at the mall and asked if I would go to the barracks with him. My response was simply and emphatically, "I'm 12!" to which he responded, "Whatever, do you want to go to the barracks with me." I did not, and I was disgusted and terrified. I halted smiling at boys and men for awhile afraid they would offer the same. Now I am 28 years old, and just moved back to the aforementioned city after traveling around the world researching what anti sex trafficking efforts look like in various communities. My first week returning to this city ended with me sobbing in my friend's car after no less than 10 inappropriate come ons, gestures, or invitations from men. I could feel their gestures all over me even though they'd never touched me. Just today I was in a christian thrift store and I man slowly took in every inch of my body with his eyes…I glared back at him to let him know I knew and disapproved.

    One of the issues, I believe, is not just with men who are doing the obvious, blatant harassing. The most recent responses that I've received from male friends when telling the stories of being approached on the street involve, "Well, you're an attractive woman", "Are you sure they meant anything by it", and "How do you know it was a proposition of some sort"… which are all from men I would typically say have high integrity and character. In fact, within past circles of "christian men of character" eventually time would reveal statements such as "______ says you have a nice rack" much to my dismay. There is a strong message out there that we are only worth what our bodies can do or give that invades even our "safe" christian circles. It's only more obvious when it's a cat call. Now I can say that I am blessed enough to know true men of character who will stand against this sort of thing, but for awhile it was looking pretty bleak to be a woman.

    It seems so petty to hear someone whistle or cat call, and we're constantly being told that it is meaningless. But the fact is, it affects ME when these men do this, and if it makes me uncomfortable and unprotected, then it is worth doing something about. I am worth taking the time to stand up against injustice against myself, and worth others doing the same for me and vice versa!! I am not typically one to sit back and take any kind of abuse, so it kills me that at times I feel frightened to respond in protection of my dignity (at the least) to these men. The most common response I give is to glare at them. Although I have also flipped the bird and stated loudly in a man's face, "I AM NOT INTERESTED!" I have considered other ways to approach the men, and honestly feel that it probably is fine to do so since I agree that a lot of it is machismo. However, there are the occasional men who are physically close when they approach, or move toward you to whisper something lewd. I honestly just want to shout, "Yes! I have a vagina! NO, it is NOT FOR SALE you misogynistic a-hole!" I may not ever say that, but I think it wouldn't be out of line, for certain. Honestly, the most overwhelming thing to me is that there are so many women who don't know their worth enough to know that this is NOT OK and who actually hear it and accept their gestures or accept the words because they think they deserve it. That is what kills me.

    Thank you, Jesus, for the men you've pursued to the depths to free them and lead other boys into men who honor! Thank you, Jesus, for the women you've pursued to the depths to free them into knowing their worth and not accepting less!

    January 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  35. Pingback: Cat Calling and the Fight for Renewed Dignity | Tiny World Travels

  36. Beth

    What's really sad about this kind of thing is that I had really only been whistled at once until I went to college. Once there, I got whistled at and stared at several times. I remember one Friday night there was a Halloween dance at the student union my freshman year. My friend and I decided to dress as trophy wives and I was wearing my favorite "little" (I put quotations because I'm too modest and shy to wear anything really short) black dress and my highest heels, and a guy hollered inappropriate comments at me while I took a picture of two friends. My skin crawled and I wanted nothing more than to run back to my dorm room, find my baggiest sweats and hide under the covers and cry. I guess my point is that it made me disgusted and ashamed of my femininity to have so much inappropriate attention, and especially at a Christian university. The last thing I expected when I moved to school was that I would be hit on so much, and so inappropriately.

    February 4, 2013 at 2:40 am

  37. Mohammed Ali

    Did all you know, your all a bunch of donkeys asses that are going to burn in hell because you had the audacity to call my compliments and whistles harasssment? Its not "sexual" and it's not on the street. I wish people on the internet would say they are sorry for passing the socalled "sexual" "hassling" "law". Street socalled harassment is Satans lie. Im sorry for calling your whistling something its not, "street" "irritation".

    November 22, 2013 at 12:06 am

  38. Kyle

    What about the devils making women say inappropriate things they should repent of or burn in hell for such as, Do you know thats socalled "sexual" hassing? I feel disrespected.? passing the socalled sexual hassling law Satan wanted passed, so he would have a law that honoured demons in hell. You love Satan if you call compliments and men harassers and harassment, means you have a death wish and want to destroy yourself. Sexual socalled pestering is a self-destructive lie from the devil as is street socalled hassling another one straight from the pits of hell. Jesus Christ would honour mens rights to compliment ladies, their bosoms,cleavage and rears,stare and whistle. The Author of Confusion has twisted millions of minds including those on here to twist words in compliments and to respond incorrectly and to never say, Im sorry for calling your compliments hassling and calling you a hassler for saying nothing wrong other than telling me my breasts are pretty. Jesus never wanted compliments to be called anything having to do with hassling and sexuality and mistaking sexual intercourse for a weapon.

    November 22, 2013 at 12:54 am

  39. Mordecai

    Sexual "misuse"? What? If God made you and every woman beautiful, why do you have to complain about it on this machine called the internet because somebody uttered the words your breasts are beautiful? So that gives you the right to misquote, Make a man an offender, with the words twisted like this today, throw him in a cage to dehumanize him because he told me my cleavage is nice so thats right? Thats wrong morally and spiritually to complain about men,their whistling,compliments,etc. If everyone that includes you, dont say I'm sorry for calling your compliments,whistling, hassling you will be in hell for eternity.

    November 22, 2013 at 1:03 am

  40. Harold

    Whos the dumbbell that thought this up something stupid like, understanding why "street" "hasling" and socalled "cat" "calls" "scrape" at our souls? What? What a pathetic misbelief for so many stupid,selfish, devil loving women to believe in such lies. Too bad some men here and elsewhere are gullible enough to believe this lie from Satan as well

    November 22, 2013 at 2:40 am

  41. kvayssie18

    I am currently living in Bolivia, South America, and I have to say me and my cousin get cat called every day, maybe two or three times a day. I have many stories to tell, one day me and my cousin were walking to the supermarket, and a few workers whistle and say " Ay mami!" Really? Don't whistle at us like we are your dogs!. Another incident was when we were walking home from the gym, and 2 guys about my age ( I am 18) make kissing sounds at us and say "mi amor, ven aqui" that was very uncomfortable. Some how they are able to make their buses whistle at me and my cousin as we walk by, it is very annoying!! Most of the time we ignore them. Even the Argentinian, Brazilian, and Chileans do this ( you will find quite a few of them here). Even my Instructor (he is from Chile) at the gym flirts with me calling me "baby" and "mi Reina" (he knows English), although he does this less because there is more people at the gym to focus on. There is a lot more, but I will not write all of it, to say the least I do not enjoy being cat called.

    January 24, 2014 at 11:06 pm

  42. Linda

    I am sorry I called you a street harasser.

    August 6, 2014 at 2:41 am

  43. michael glass

    So I approach 100 women and say hi and make small talk, I get at least 30 phone numbers. Out of that 30 I have sex with 5 of them. I do this every month. Most women if not interested usually politely say no. That's not a problem. With articles like this would you rather no man shows you any attention. I think not because as the author stated she is having a good time running around with whole bunch of different men, yet she is upset when the "unattractive" men approach her. Funny this whole anti cat call thing is. No wonder western women are single in droves.

    August 18, 2014 at 10:16 pm

  44. SFlilac

    I come from a line of pear-shaped women and have gotten a lot of unwanted attention since I started working out a few months ago (for my health and to feel more comfortable in my own skin). Most of the men who have hit on my have been sort of nice about it, trying to start up conversations, asking if I have a man, if I wanted him to do my portrait (that one was a little weird), etc. I have been in a very happy, comfortable relationship for almost 5 years now and have absolutely no interest in other guys so this always makes me feel a little uncomfortable. However, last night I had the worst experience of my life. I got out of work really late and missed my usual bus so I was stuck waiting at 9 at night when a car full of teenagers drove by and I heard a few of them say things like "damn baby, you got a fat ass," and "white girl with a black girl ass" (something I have sadly heard several times before). I was on the phone and I ignored them, rolled my eyes, and instead of driving on, they reversed and stopped in front of me and all five of them started shouting those things at me. Two of them threw a tube of chapstick and a car phone charger at me and they both actually hurt. Then they drove off like nothing happened. The experience made me feel like I cannot wear any sort of form-fitting pants out in public because I catch guys staring at my butt when I turn around. It makes me feel like I need my boyfriend with me at all times just to act as a body-guard. I consider myself a strong-minded, independent woman, but these kinds of experiences make me feel belittled, objectified, and unsafe.

    September 5, 2014 at 2:20 pm

  45. Mohammed

    I really should apologize for making compliments of breasts,cleavages and rears a "crime" says our U.S. president and Vladimir Putin,Bill Clinton,etc. Its a sin to pass judgement on men you don't know when they give you any kind of compliment at all whether its with their words or with actions such as whistling. I am sorry I passed judgement on you when you whistled at me, I overreacted and was being childish.

    November 16, 2014 at 2:34 am

  46. checkyourself

    What is the deal with saying comments are too long? How long will people call compliments,whistling,staring evil and overpolluting and destrying nature good?

    November 16, 2014 at 2:53 am

  47. Pingback: Why women are thought to be Different? | Feminist Perspective of Living a Life

  48. Thank you, Lauren, for this post.
    I don't reply to men, and I don't lower the eye. I am what God made me be and it surely is not meant for slaughter. Those behaviors are consequences of the masochistic society we are still in. It's hard not to feel bad about yourself when it happens all the time, but it's the only way you cannot let it kill you. I keep facing sexual misuse if no longer abuse, but I know I am much more than what some men can see in me. So I carry on.

    April 21, 2021 at 3:26 pm

  49. I've always worked with a lot of college-aged guys, and while they don't usually touch me, they often say inappropriate things to me. I'm pretty sure they do it just because they know it will make me blush. I don't really know how to respond so I usually just laugh it off or make some snarky comment and walk away. How am I supposed to stand up for myself and tell them to back off when I still have to see them all the time?

    April 21, 2021 at 3:30 pm

  50. thnks for sharing

    May 5, 2021 at 5:31 am

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