Why one woman’s Facebook status perfectly sums up how we question our outfit choices when we’re catcalled

When I started to write this article, I tried to remember the first time I was catcalled. I couldn’t.

Every time it happens, the harassment just gets added into this memory blob of unwanted advances from men -- a blob that had to start somewhere, I suppose. But drilling to the middle of that terrible memory bank would be all but an impossible task now.

The author in high school
The author in high school

But I did remember something.

When I was a teenager in rural Michigan, which is where I grew up, I drove to the grocery store late at night to get cold medicine. I parked next to a minivan, and there was a man standing next to the van’s sliding side door. I figured it was just a dad helping his kids into the van.

When I walked past the van on my way into the store, the guy tried to “compliment me in that disgusting, sultry voice that street harassers use. It makes my skin crawl. I think I glanced over long enough to look disgusted.


In the grocery store, I purchased my cold medicine and started panicking about the walk back to the parking lot while my car was next to this guy’s van. I had watched enough Criminal Minds to know that I didn’t feel like risking it. I called a guy friend who lived nearby to come meet me. When my friend walked me to my car, we sat in the front seats for a moment, watching as van guy’s wife came out to meet him — a cart of groceries with her and a young kid in the seat of the cart.

“What a pig,” I remember saying to my friend in disgust.

If you’re reading this, it’s more than likely that you have experienced being catcalled by a stranger — statistics overwhelmingly support that assumptionThe most infuriating thing about being catcalled is how it makes you question yourself.

The night that guy tried to talk to me, I was wearing shorts. I remember shaming myself for wearing shorts out late at night when I was by myself. As if I had made some dangerous life choice by wearing shorts in the summertime.

The author in high school
The author in high school

My husband recently showed me this post on Facebook and It. So. Resonated.


The way we  question our outfits, regret our shoes, and assume that our love of fashion causes catcalling — it’s ridiculous.

Catcalling is not a woman’s issue. It’s not something a woman has invited upon herself because of how she dressed.

The trouble with the comments made (explicit or not) is that they make the person receiving them feel ashamed for simply existing. false

A catcall reveals a disregard for a woman’s humanity.

The overwhelming potential for her discomfort, irritation, or fear never enters the calculus of a catcall -- unless the catcaller is explicitly trying to gain power over the woman.

It signals that a woman is nothing more than her body, a pretty object for someone else’s attention.

Wear what you want. Feel safe and comfortable with your body.

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