Leah’s Life Lessons: The Danger of Cat-calling

“Hey baby, come over here for a second.”

“Nice tits Blondie.”

“Girl, what I’d do to you.”

That’s what I heard while I walked down the street in Charleston, S.C. While I’m aware that there are many problems in the world, somewhere between comments about my body and what a complete stranger would like to do to me I reached my limit. With that last bone-chilling comment the words that were aimed at me changed from ignorant phrases to a potential threat, a threat too many females deal with every day. While hundreds of people complain about how annoying catcalling is, this is a real problem that needs to be recognized and addressed.

Cat-calling is a form of sexual harassment that’s much more dangerous than the common beliefs surrounding it. The idea that it’s simply a complement, a part of life or a “first-world problem” that girls just have to deal with is false. Instead of being outraged when a guy calls a girl a slut or shames her as he makes derogatory comments about her clothing, many people question the girl t0 see what she did to provoke such a response.

“Well what were you wearing?”

That was the first thing I heard when I told people about what was said to me. People assume if a girl is harassed it’s because she’s brought it on herself by what she wore. While I firmly believe that a woman’s choice of clothing shouldn’t be a factor in the level of respect she receives, I’ll share my outfit to prove my point. I was wearing a loose-fitted leather skirt that flowed well past my hands, a baggy denim blouse and short boots, something I would wear to class, work or out with my family. I wasn’t showing a centimeter of skin from my clavicle bone all the way to an inch or two above my knees. In short there wasn’t any part of my outfit that could have been construed as risqué.

Why does is matter?

Cat-calling is saying someone’s intelligence, accomplishments, thoughts and feelings don’t matter. They’re simply a walking set of breasts with a nice tush. They’re saying that the victim of cat-calling has become a sexual object put there for entertainment. In short that girl has become viewed only as a possession.

Cat-calling affects everyone. Each girl who gets yelled at by a strange man on the street is someone’s daughter, sister, mother, friend or girlfriend. While you may not be doing it yourself, ask yourself if you would be okay with the girls in your life being looked at and talked to as the sexual possession of a stranger?

What’s the big deal? It doesn’t cause actual harm.

I’m aware that our generation has become extreme about being politically correct. However, cat-calling is something that can lead to something more serious. When a girl is catcalled, the guy harassing her is taking away her feeling of safety. Yes, it may just be words at that moment, but what if that girl sees that same man later in a poorly lit parking garage? Will she feel as safe as she would have if she hadn’t been harassed earlier? In a culture where rape is an ever-present danger, this is a serious matter.

If we continue to find it socially acceptable to treat an innocent woman as a sexual object as she walks down the street, how long until it becomes acceptable to use her as one?