Many people make the argument that catcalls and whistling at women is just fine and dandy. I’ve heard men say that this would flatter them. But do men ever feel threatened by a woman doing such an activity? A woman often doesn’t even feel as if she can shout back, “Shove it, portly one!” or something even more colorful because she feels as if she could be harmed by the man in the process. In fact, in many places, she is just that—or even if she ignores him; women have acid thrown in their faces for such things in some countries.
Of course, that alone isn’t the reason why it’s wrong to catcall at women. It’s degrading. It’s embarrassing. And it’s just plain rude. When you’re on the way to the grocery store or the dry cleaner’s or wherever you’re on your way to, you don’t want to hear that crap. And it doesn’t matter if you think it’s nonthreatening (“Hey sweetheart,” “Hey pretty thing”) or if it’s as vulgar as a pirate on a rum binge, it’s equally as insulting and unwanted.
The first annual National Anti-Street Harassment Day was created to help raise awareness about street harassment and to allow women to have a voice when they typically have none about an issue that affects them. And in conjunction with the event, many women became aware of the Hollaback project, a website where women can share their stories, take photographs of their harassers and post them online, and do anything but be afraid and silent, which is what we normally do when we encounter such behavior. There are also some really brave stories that women share at the site that are definitely worth reading in order to both be more aware of street harassment as well as know that you’re not alone.
Another great resource from the day is the website Stop Street Harassment. This resource has tons of ways to take action, become aware of street harassment, and to really fight the practice every day rather than just one day each year. Both of these sites are worth checking out.