Last summer I spent every day at the beach and it was a dream. Most days I would park in the lot right on the boardwalk which was very convenient and I would bear the rather hefty price for the convenience and ease. However, sometimes I parked a short walk (maybe 5 minutes) beyond the parking lot, the only real inconvenience was waiting at the light for what felt like an eternity and then crossing the very busy street. Lathered in sunscreen, salty hair tied up in a ponytail, cut off Levi shorts, and most days an unbuttoned shirt on top of my swimsuit, I waited impatiently at the light. That summer I think was the first time I truly experienced cat calling. I rarely felt unsafe or severely affected, most often I would just avoid eye contact with any of the passers by who drove trucks. I never felt threatened by the regular dude in his Toyota, or a big family stuffed into a minivan, or the couple of beach goers who would also be waiting beside me at the street corner light. But always truck drivers: large, rectangular shaped delivery type truck drivers, 3 or 4 guys packed into one construction esc truck drivers, teenage boys with their heads out the window truck drivers.
At the time I had seen a trend on tiktok about responding to cat callers by barking loudly at them. I thought it was funny and maybe even a good tactic so I told my mom about it. She frowned upon this idea and thought it wasn’t smart and I got mad at her for thinking it was better to just take it and walk away. That made me furious, although I did take her advice and never ‘barked’ at anyone who had cat called.
I want to preface this following section by saying that it feels wrong to be giving you all advice on how to protect yourself or how to act instead of just demanding that the cat callers learn to be better because they are the ones to blame and they must stop this harassment. Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about it for a while so I wanted to share some tips and reminders with you all about dealing with cat callers:
Safety Is First
Safety is 100% the biggest priority. In most cases, you’re not dealing with any life threatening cat calling but there’s always the chance that the disgusting moron who called you in the first place might follow you or get riled up and turn to violence. It’s perfectly ok to cause a scene if you’re in a public space if you feel the harassment is escalating or just to swiftly run away to a location where you feel more safe to call a friend or family member. On my back pack I have a rape whistle and pepper spray is attached to my car keys. Also consider taking a self defense class or watching some youtube videos on how to protect yourself if need be.
Like I mentioned earlier, I used to (and still sort of) feel like ignoring catcalling means that you’re accepting it. However, what has become more clear to me is the fact that these cat callers are intending to elicit a reaction out of you. Showing them you care or lashing out is giving them the power and letting these predators think they have some sort of permission to address women in this way.
Reminder: You didn’t ask for this.
Some people will say that girls who go to the beach in a bikini ‘asked for this’, this being the unwarranted whistling, taunting, etc. There is no reason you need to be worried about covering your shoulders or legs or arms because a man doesn’t know how to keep his mouth closed. Getting a cat called is never your fault and you shouldn’t let anyone ever blame you. Of course, there are outfits and certain pieces that could be viewed as more revealing or showy but regardless, that’s your choice to wear and AGAIN does not give any strange pedophile permission to comment on your appearance.
Reminder: Predators Aim For The Weak
Whether it be cat calling or even something more serious like getting assaulted or attacked, these predators aim for people who seem weak. This means shoulders slouched, looking down at their phone, standing somewhere alone. Prevent these situations by maintaining strong body language with good posture, wide stance, and harsh eye contact with your surroundings at all times.
Share your experience
Even if it’s a little comment from someone on the street or a ‘truck driver’ incident, tell your friends, a family member, or someone you care about. While ignoring these men in the moment may seem like the only option, leaving these experiences to rot within you is accepting this mistreatment in a way. Sharing these experiences with the people close to you will also help them in not feeling alone through this icky feeling. While it isn’t your job, you can always remind your guys friends, younger brothers/cousins, and family members that this type of behavior may be common or even praised amongst their peers but that it absolutely NEVER ok.
I am so so sorry to anyone who has to experience this shameful and filthily feeling after walking away from a cat calling interaction. It makes my blood boil every time and I just want to scream back ‘how dare you!’. Hopefully one day we will live in a society where men are taught to respect women and to keep their gross thoughts to themselves. If you don’t have anyone to confide in, my dms and dear monday email (firstname.lastname@example.org) are wide open!
We got this,