Unless you've been living "Under the Sea," you've probably been catcalled at some point in your life. Street harassment is an everyday annoyance for women when they're just living their lives, "strolling along down a — what's that word again? — STREET!"
Speaking for myself, I've experienced ALL of them — and many of them in the past week. While science still can't explain to us WHY men catcall (are they trying to date us? IDK, I really DK), we know that catcalling can take on many forms. Below are the seven most common types of catcalling, as illustrated by Ariel, the Little Mermaid:
1. Stating the Obvious: If I had a dollar for every time a helpful stranger shouted at me "Damn, girl, you got tattoos!" I could afford... more tattoos. Why do catcallers feel the need to follow us down the street shouting "BIG TITTIES!" or "That ass!" Yes, I have a mirror at home, I was aware of this! True story: in 2011, I was walking home to my apartment, and a car full of men shouted out their window "LEGS!" Like, "oh gosh is THAT what you call these? Aw shucks! I didn't even know! Thank you, kind strangers!"
2. The "Compliment": The Almighty Internet defines a "compliment" as "a polite expression of praise or admiration." The Catcalling World defines "compliment" as "a polite expression of praise, given on the condition that the recipient of said praise says 'thank you,' and if she does not, you must rescind the compliment, follow her down the street, call her a 'crazy bitch' and 'ungrateful whore' and implore her to die alone in a ditch because she ugly anyway."
3. Fat Calling: basically the opposite of "the compliment," this random outburst from a stranger serves to... serves to... to... crush your spirit? Just last Friday, I was walking into the subway station when a man looked me in the face and declared, "You're ugly." WHY OH WHY OH WHY. Your insult is totally going to keep me awake all night wondering, "Am I really that ugly?" so thanks, Rando, for ruining my life. </3
4. "Where are you going?": This one might just be the form of catcalling I experience most often. Why do you want to know where I'm going? Are you gonna meet me there? Are you asking me because I look like I know where all the hottest spots are? Do the detective work, Sherlock: I'm wearing sweatpants, carrying a laundry bag, and holding a bottle of Tide with Febreeze freshness. Where do you think I'm going, Benedict Cumberbatch?
5. The Grab & Go: I've been grab & go-ed by strangers the last three times I've been to Times Square: The first grabbed me to "compliment" my hair (see #2), the second informed me that I have a lot of tattoos (see #1), and the most recent one gripped my elbow to ask me where I was going (#4). Hi, I'm a human being, not a piece of sushi on a conveyor belt. You don't just get to grab me if you like the looks of me. No. You do NOT touch me, stranger, unless you are a literal, actual, canine dog. Then you can lick my face and tell me I'm pretty (#2).
6. The Drive-By: Picture this: you're about to pass a man on the sidewalk walking the opposite direction when he suddenly leans in to your check to whisper sweet nothings. "You're beautiful," he puffs into your ear, before speed-walking down the street away from you as fast as he can. "Come back, kind stranger! I've waited my whole life for a man to tell me I'm pretty! Does this mean we're dating now? Wait up! We're supposed to get married! How can I bear your children if you're walking away?!" I don't know what to do with this guy. It's as though he's spent his whole life psyching himself up to talk to a human woman, but he doesn't have the courage to face her after he does. I would feel sorry for him, if he hadn't just spat on my cheek a little.
7. "Smile!": No.
Published May 17, 2015
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Meghan Sara is a tour guide for Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tours. She is open-minded about everything, but intolerant to gluten. She blogs at meghansara.com, is a regular contributor to Femnasty, and tweets her feelings @MeghanSaraK.