PSA to Men: Yelling at Women Who Ignore Your Cat Calls Isn’t Cute
Last Thursday, while I was walking towards Astor Place to catch the 6 train home after work, a man standing on the sidewalk talking to his friend felt the need to vocalize his opinion about my appearance. He called out to me as I walked past yelling, “Damn, miss you’re looking good tonight”. Now, having not solicited this opinion, I really had nothing to say to this man. In general, I don’t enjoy cat calls whatsoever. It makes me, like many other women, feel uncomfortable and threatened for merely just being in public and going about my business as usual.
I certainly hadn’t asked him for his opinion about my appearance, and I definitely do not entertain socializing with men who feel the need to offer their unsolicited opinions of the bodies of women they do not know as they pass by on the street. Suffice it to say, I continued walking without saying anything. When I walked past him without replying or even making an effort to make eye contact with this street harasser he got angry and began heckling me. “Oh you’re not even gonna say thank you?” he called after me. “You must not get told you look good a lot”. It was at this point that I realized that one of two things had happened. My lack of reaction and unfazed expression had upset the man, because his sole goal of cat calling was to get a rise out of the women he harassed, or he simply felt embarrassed by the fact that I had completely ignored him in his moment of extreme entitlement.
I think both of these feelings could have been felt simultaneously, but, at the end of the day, either one is unacceptable. When men cat call women and then become vocally and outwardly angry at the women who they cat called’s refusal to engage they are revealing a deep sense of entitlement, not only to women’s time, words, and bodies, but also to the public space in which they are operating. If I was forced operate my life on this man’s terms– I should not only be grateful that he finds me attractive, I should be so deeply appreciative of his commitment to vocalize that opinion that I should stop and take the time speak with him, possibly even, jump into bed with him. All because he thought that his opinion about my body mattered, just that much, or whatsoever.
So here is a PSA to all the men who cat call women– first of all you should probably stop because your uninvited opinion is at best, irrelevant and at worst deeply discomforting to the women you shout at. Your efforts to bed women should probably start with connecting with them, not making them feel like they can’t walk in public without being beholden to you and your whims. Secondly, in the event that you do continue to cat call women (congratulations, you’re an asshole) you should probably not get angry at the women who don’t engage with you… we didn’t ask for your opinion or your attention, and we aren’t responsible for your bruised ego when your unsolicited opinion goes unacknowledged.