Catcalling: It’s Harassment, Not Flirting


Kaya Perry, Silver Streams Co-Editor

Almost every girl has experienced some form of street harassment in her life. It’s often referred to as catcalling: being whistled at, being called by a pet name or even being honked at by a passing car. The list just keeps going. Why do people feel the need to say and do these things, and why does society allow it?

From the guy’s perspective, catcalling may be seen as a compliment, but girls often find it rather repulsing. It’s as if some men have no filter with what they do and say. It makes girls, or at least me, very uncomfortable. I don’t want to be called “babe” or “babygirl”  by a complete stranger. Sure, I like being called pretty and beautiful but not in the context of a random man trying to get my attention.

Catcalling has been around for centuries, and it has progressively become more degrading as society has evolved. Catcalling originated from the term “wolf whistle,” which was used by sailors in the 17th century to signal each other when a woman passed by. Citizens then took that code and morphed it into the mainstream term we know today.

I don’t think anyone realizes how bad it feels to be catcalled until it happens. The first time I was harassed on the street was in eighth grade when a college kid honked his horn at me and my friend while we were walking down a sidewalk. I brushed it off and thought of it as “something that boys do,” but when I was catcalled by a random boy while at school, I realized that this behavior is a real problem.

Catcalling not only makes me feel bad, but it can also be quite scary. It’s appalling to imagine a complete stranger calling me his “babygirl” and then asking for my number or telling a gross pick up line. Do they find it funny to degrade females in such a manner? I, and every other woman on this planet, only want to be treated with respect, but apparently, that’s too much to ask for from the male population.

Senior Jaila Horton said, “[Catcalling] makes [her] feel uncomfortable like [she] can’t even walk around in [her] own skin.”

Girls have learned to ignore the men who catcall, but ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Society needs to teach boys and men that this behavior is wrong and disrespectful. There’s no reason why men should even think that it’s okay to act this way.