Stop Catcalling Me

by GEM Magazine / Mar 30, 2015 / Comments

I recently took to Facebook to post a little rant about an incident walking only eight blocks home from work, in the middle of the afternoon, in broad daylight. Two males in the park near my house started catcalling me, asking “where those leggings [were] taking that sweet ass". I pretended I didn't hear them and kept walking, because I didn't get very much sleep the night before as it had been my birthday. These, now I won't call them "men", because men treat humans with dignity and respect, decided to continue after I walked past them. My silence was not seen as an absence of reaction, but rather a transgression, and they continued with "you'd be prettier if you smiled, bitch..." and "she'd be prettier with my cock in her mouth".

Street harassment is real, and it is serious. A wolf whistle or catcall reveals an indifference toward the woman’s humanity, and the ignorance of the possibility of her discomfort. It suggests that a woman is nothing more than her body, and is treated like a piece of meat for the way she looks or the clothing she chooses to wear.

I stand 5’7” and weigh 120lbs. I’m a fairly small woman. I carry dog spray at night in fear of being assaulted, having had an incident in the past. Somehow, it is “acceptable” for me to be sprayed with verbal assault and harassment, but unacceptable for me to be allowed to defend myself. More often than not, the harasser can become aggressive and violent toward the victim if ignored, leaving these victims fearful of these verbal attacks becoming physical.

A courteous smile or polite nod isn’t an open invitation for you to dehumanize me, or anybody else. Which leads me into my next point: this harassment happens to everyone. Women aren’t the only victims, men are too. Don’t assume men want the “ego booster” of being catcalled or whistled at. It’s just as degrading for men as it is for women. No matter how you identify, whether it’s female, male, alien, sloth, unicorn, or anywhere in between, you should not feel violated by another person. Simple as that.

People will find each other attractive. It’s basic human biology. There is an appropriate time and place for a polite compliment. For example, “your hair looks lovely today” or “you have beautiful eyes” can be a nice way to make someone’s day.

There needs to be a better way to educate people on what should be seen basic human decency, and common sense. This behavior needs to be stopped, and there should be systems implemented to penalize offenders. Before you attempt to “compliment” someone, ask yourself a few simple questions:

• Is this statement offensive or oppressive?
• Would I say this to a family member?
• Would I be comfortable with somebody saying this to my daughter/son?
• Is this a violation of this person’s basic human rights?
• Is this disempowering?

If you’d like to know more about your legal and human rights, you can find most of what you need on The Government of Canada’s Canadian Human Right’s Commission website at http://www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/eng or call toll free: 1-888-214-1090.

If you or someone you know is being harassed, or abused, or is having any of their human rights violated, never be afraid to contact the police. In an emergency, do not be afraid to dial 9-1-1. For general questions, concerns, or inquiries, Victoria RCMP’s non-emergency line is 250-381-6161.

By Hanna Watley

Hanna is an independent writer and model currently living in Victoria BC. She is a strong supporter of the human rights movement, and believes in equality for all. Hanna promotes and practices self love and body appreciation in her daily life, and strives to be a positive role model in her community.

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