As a girl whose body could be described as womanly from a young age, I have had ample time to contemplate why men catcall. Do they think we like being sexually harassed? Do they think we will stop, delighted to be noticed, and hop in their car or hand out our numbers? Or is it simply a power play, a way to assert dominance? A new study offers some troubling insight on this rampant behavior pattern.
U.N. Women and Promundo, a global gender equality advocacy organization, conducted a study where they surveyed almost 5,000 men from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, and Palestine about sexual harassment. Across the board, far more men than women asserted that women "like the attention." In Morroco, 71% of men answered that women enjoy street harassment while 42% of women concurred. The numbers are mind-boggling: 31% of men in Lebanon to 64% of men in Egypt casually admitted to sexually harassing women in public, and 90% of male respondents in Egypt said the harass women simply because it's fun!
While this study was regionally focused, a 2014 survey noted similarly high rates of catcalling and predatory public behavior in the U.S, with 65% of women responding that they have experienced sexual harassment on the street. If a man needs a reminder of what it's like to walk down the street as a woman, just watch (or probably rewatch) the youtube video 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman. We can infer that the impulse to hiss and holler are similar globally, so the next time someone questions why we need feminism, I will direct them to this study. Enough said.
Image via youtube video 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman
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Miriam Mosher graduated from Smith College before moving to New York where she is a writer by day and beer maven by night. She is a proud feminist, a champion of the semicolon and an avid thrifter. See more from Miriam at Bushwick Daily and Two Cities Literary Review.