It is with utter gratitude that I welcome you to my ted talk (but not really, but get ready). Catcalling. We know it. We experience it. We endure. Everything from the “Hey beautiful” to the “Hey bitch, why are you ignoring me.” all the way to more escalated threats. Why does this happen, and how do we cope? Should we just stop being so damn pretty? I THINK NOT. Before you continue reading this, I just want to say that this is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ issue. If you are male-identifying and reading this, first of all, THANK YOU. Second of all, catcalling is NEVER okay. I repeat. NEVER EVER. Cool. Now that THAT is out of the way, we may continue.
The way I have coped/battled catcalling is by no means the way YOU will. If I find out that you feel badly because you have or haven’t reacted the way I have, I will be VERY UPSET. You are your own version of a magical unicorn, who is beautiful and valid in his or her responses to stimuli. Moving along, I am here to discuss a few of the MANY experiences I have had and hopefully, through this, you may find something inspiring your inner warrior. The following are retellings of which I, and I am sure many others, have unfortunately experienced.
A SNARKY ENCOUNTER:
Me: *Walking home from work tonight. 12:30 am* Me: *Walking*
Guy: *Comes running up and stands in front of me.*
Guy: “HEY! What are you doing?”
Me: *Walks around him*
Me: “Walking. Have a good night.” *keeps walking*
Guy: “Well I won’t have a good night!!!”
Me: “Suit yourself.”
Guy: “Well you can go ahead and FUCK YOURSELF.” Me: “Thank you. I will.”
A little snark never hurt nobody, right? In all seriousness though, I was able to say something because I felt safe enough to do so. It is fascinating to me the quick switch that occurred here. I have made a note of it. *Insert wink face*
UP NEXT- THE ANGRY ENCOUNTER:
Me: *Walking down the subway stairs.*
Me: *Doesn’t respond, keeps walking*
Guy: “Goodnight princess”
Me: *Doesn’t respond*
Guy *Kiss noise* Me: *Continuing to choose not to engage* Guy: “Fine, well then FUCK YOU. Fucking bitch. Cunt. Fucking Feminist. Bullshit.”
Ugh, FUCK THIS. So here I made a deliberate choice not to engage with this presumably male-identifying man. Does it make me weak that I didn’t talk back? Does it mean that his behavior was okay? I have frequently been criticized for ‘not sticking up for myself’ or being ‘not feminist enough’. I want to make this very clear: I AM NOT LESS OF AN ADVOCATE FOR MYSELF IF I DO NOT PURSUE EACH CAT CALL.
Silence is not consent. Once again, MY silence is not consent.
NEXT- THE PRODUCTION USE OF CAT CALLERS:
Walking on street, dressed as a unicorn exercising her right to vote.
Guy: “Hey, pretty girl”
Me: “Hey! You should vote on November 6th!”
I think I figured it out, y’all. Here is your 2019 example of how to turn a negative cat call into your very own political campaign! Coming soon to magazines near you. *wink*
NEXT- THE ASSUMPTION AND VERBAL ASSASSINATION
ME: *Sitting next to two guys on the train.* Guy 1- “yeah so we have to analyze the story and lay out the effective plot line and the stresses of the words….. what is that again?“ Guy 2- “woof…. fascinating but you probably wouldn’t care much about that, would you babe?” Me-“I’m sorry, what?” Guy 2- “English literature, analyzing stuff..you know.” Me- “….. and why would you say that?” Guy 2- “I mean come on, headphones in, lulu leggings, lip gloss…. I’m willing to bet you don’t have time for that brainy stuff. You’re too busy getting sexy and gorgeous. I mean dat ass.” *Guys High Five* Me- “Wow. Ha Okay. I gotta applaud you guys for the ‘strong choice’ on this one. Seriously, pretty creative. But next time you wanna talk to someone, and I mean ANYONE, try “hello”. Insulting my intellect is likely to get you a big FUCK YOU. Anyways, have a nice day gentleman. Oh, And enjoy THE TEMPEST. I read that in High school. That scansion is a toughie. Toodles.
I honestly don’t even know how to follow this up, other than OOFDA. That’s oy vey in Midwestern. But please, I beg of you, never insult someone before you say hello. Etiquette, you know?
LAST BUT NEVER LEAST- I AM A FEMALE SO I MUST NEED YOUR APPROVAL TO SURVIVE OBVI:
Guy: “Hey! You’re pretty. There! I hope your day is a bit brighter now!” Me: “Thanks, but I wasn’t sad….?” Guy: “Of course you were darling. It must be brighter now!” Me: “ uh…. okay.” Guy: “You aren’t very thankful.” Me: “Oh my, how unladylike of me. Ooooppsie” Guy: “Sarcasm doesn’t suit a lady” Me: “Sexism doesn’t suit anyone. So HOPE YOUR DAY IS A BIT BRIGHTER.”
GO OFF GO OFF. *snaps* Le Sigh. If ya can’t stop em, teach em.
Thank you for going through these with me again. As I make light of these encounters, I must say that these are, unfortunately, just a few of MANY.
Yes, it’s funny when I am able to say things and it helps me to cope, but truth be told there are many times when I am too caught off guard or feel too unsafe. Remember, SAFETY FIRST! Ugh, I hate that I even have to say that. Happy 2019. After reading this I hope you feel validated in your responses to catcalling. Because THEY ARE VALID. Who knows, you may even find some creative responses coming forth, to turn these AWFUL experiences into something your sanity can actually tolerate.
My peace and love is with you this day. Keep being gorgeous because you are beautiful. As the queen herself, Margaret Atwood said, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
Love, A Feisty Fed-up Femme
Abbey Is an actress, writer and performer (Burlesque/performance art) based in NYC. Originally from North Dakota, she has just about had it with sexism, prejudice, and general traditional patriarchal ideals. She has made a name for herself posting unfortunate happenings with catcalling on her social media. Most of them attached to a story, or some interesting moment that was able to happen. To be an artist is to be human.
Follow her on instagram at @abbeyimmer and on facebook.