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  1. #1
    Pied Piper of the Homos
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    The Terror Of Catcalling

    http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/...arassmentweek/

    http://mystreetmybodymyright.tumblr....st/19651731625


    I’m fourteen, running late for Global Studies. Breakfastless, I bolt out the door to catch the six. Instead of turning right as usual at Lexington Avenue, I take the shortcut to the station. They’re sitting at the front stoops again, right where the houses end and the deli begins. It’s humid, but I’ve put on my baggiest sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt, so maybe today they won’t say anything. I look down at my feet and try to look preoccupied, or sad, or unapproachable, or something. And I walk faster. But they turn around and stare, all of them together, and don’t move, blocking the sidewalk. They make me push through them. I can feel them, bigger, older men, looking down at me as I approach. My entire body is tensing up, dreading an unwanted touch, a crude word. I want to crawl into a hole.“Hey, come back, China doll,” one says. Something in his voice makes my stomach turn. I wish I had simply woken up on time.
    I’m fifteen and sweating under the June sun. The subway ride home was sweltering, and the ice cream truck beckons. Naturally, I order a vanilla milkshake. Then—a touch to my back, an ugly whisper: “you’re so sexy, baby.” I freeze. Was that someone’s breath on my ear, or just the heat? I turn around and see a fat, balding man strolling away into the crowd. As though he had done nothing wrong. My skin is crawling everywhere. Instinctively, uselessly, I am rubbing my ear, but I cannot get rid of his awful, lingering presence. He’s taking his time walking away, and I know that he knows I am watching him and that I am too scared to say anything. I hate myself for being a coward. I hate myself for being scared. Families around me chatter and laugh, enjoying the beautiful day. The ice cream truck lady leans out. “That’ll be $2.25.”
    I’m seventeen and plastic bags of bai cai are killing my arms. My mom and I speed-hobble downstairs at the Flushing station, only to find that the train isn’t leaving for ten minutes. Dropping our groceries in an empty car, my mom pulls out the weekend World Journal and I turn to my copy of Life of Pi. A man boards and sits across from us. He immediately begins staring at me. Intently. Willing my mom not to notice, I read. And he stares. He stares and doesn’t stop and I’m trying to muster the courage just to look him in the eye, but I’m afraid. What if that encourages him to do something else? What if my mother sees? I wish that he would just look away, even for one second. But he doesn’t. After a few minutes, I put down my book and look up at his face. He is old, older than even my father. I expect him to put his hand on his crotch, to grin obscenely, or to lick his lips, or maybe all three. Instead he just stares. Should I be relieved? People start filtering into the car. Eventually, he looks away.
    I’m eighteen and refreshed from an afternoon run in Central Park. I’m calling my boyfriend to let him know I’m coming over. The man walking across the street towards me is leering pointedly in my direction, but I figure he won’t say anything since I’m on the phone. I’m wrong. He makes a point of brushing past my arm and sneers: “I like the way you show off them legs.” For once, I react quickly. “No, it’s just hot.” I’m walking away as fast as I can, trying to put distance between us, when he yells, “fuck you, bitch.” I turn around. He looks angry, surprised, embarrassed. I should be angry also, but all I can feel is satisfaction, an unfamiliar and fervent satisfaction. “Say it louder!” I scream across the street. “I don’t give a fuck.” I’m aware of how stupid I look and everyone is staring at me, but it’s true.
    Finally, I just don’t give a fuck anymore.
    How many leers, how many unwanted comments and touches does it take to take away your right to walk on the same sidewalk, to ride the same subway, as anyone else? How many times must you watch the smile on a stranger’s face widen in perverse excitement at your revulsion? Once a month? A week? More? If my experiences were limited to the above encounters, perhaps I would know.
    I was sexually harassed on a regular basis from the year I turned fourteen until the year I left for college. I tried so hard, every day, to ignore it. But I couldn’t. It changed me. The irrepressible nervousness when a stranger approached. Being afraid to look any man on the street in the eyes. Worrying I was being followed. Not wanting to leave my house unless I had to. Crying. Not crying until I got home, then crying. Hating myself for crying. Playing the faces of dozens of men back in my mind—I remember them all. Wondering what would have happened if I had bumped into them in a deserted area. The rape nightmares.
    But the worst part was how it warped my own view of myself. Maybe it was my fault, I thought. Maybe I was asking for it. It was because I was small and weak, I thought. I hated myself for my own helplessness. Hated myself every time the snappy retort, the “leave me alone,” the “stop,” bubbled up furiously in my heart only to wilt in my throat. The tiny, illogical, and unshakable fear that no matter how hard I worked, I would never amount to anything more than a body. That my feelings—my disgust, the anger and loathing written all over my face—would deter no one because they simply did not matter. That it would only get worse as I grew older. That my only worth was sexual. That I was less than human. That I was nothing.


    Thank you for linking to that essay, which I have passed on to my 23-year-old daughter. She deals with catcalling every time she turns right from her house and walks down the next block - which she now seldom does. The (mostly out of work) young men sitting on their porch stoops or leaning against cars parked in the street (which means they are blocking the sidewalk) make horrible comments to her - "Hey fucking white bitch," "I wanna fuck you, white bitch," etc. Lovely, no? Like the young essayist, she wears the baggiest, most unattractive clothes if she is forced to walk through that area, but to no avail. The closest bus stop is through those two blocks of catcalls, but she walks six blocks in the other direction to avoid the harassment. This is in your fair city of Washington, DC, just three blocks from Rock Creek Park. (But she is planning to move to Silver Spring in a couple of months.)
    Washington City Paper did a cover story on the problem several years ago. Another reader:
    It's a conversation I've had with men so many times, and it's been so hard to make a dent. Some of them do get it after a while - a lot of them don't.
    I grew up in a big city, taking public transportation, and dealt with this from about age 14 through early college. I never came to any actual physical harm, though one of the men staring at me on the bus late at night did get off the bus after me at my stop and start to follow me home. (I went to a male friend's house, explained what was going on, and hid out there until the coast seemed clear. If my friend hadn't been nearby? Who knows.)
    But the daily gauntlet was so exhausting and so demoralizing. One day in high school I wore a short skirt and a crop top to school - it was the late '80s, it was fashionable, and it was a warm day. I forgot that I was supposed to take the city bus to an orthodontist's appointment after school that day. (Every time I retell this story I make sure to include that detail.) The bus was excruciating (catcalls, stares, leers, gropes, girlfriends of starers also glaring at me, etc.) and I had no leeway - pull down the top to cover my belly and there was more cleavage, pull up the skirt and there was more leg, etc. I had a small backpack and used that as a shield best I could.
    I finally escaped to the haven of the orthodontist's office. Or so I thought. Stretched out on the dentist's chair, the ogling and inappropriate comments started all over again - from the orthodontist.
    Having gotten through THAT, I waited anxiously for my dad to pick me up (he was late, and I literally hid inside the lobby, finding the least-visible corner), and started sobbing as soon as I closed the car door behind me. He of course wanted to know what was wrong, and I tried to explain. He profoundly didn't get it. "You just look nice today," he said.
    Yes, I should have remembered that I needed to take the bus and worn something more concealing. But really, why is that the baseline? Why did that mean that 17-year-old me was "asking for" that kind of harassment?
    I do think it's something that we as women get used to and can eventually brush off. And get old enough and it stops - something I genuinely don't mind. I prefer invisibility to that kind of visibility.
    But it's going to keep happening to new generations of girls who are ill equipped to deal with it and shouldn't have to deal with it, unless the people doing the more "innocent" but contributory staring quit (notice how she reacts, and stop if she seems uncomfortable) and unless everyone contributes to censure of the really overt gropers catcallers.
    Another:
    I'm a 27-year-old woman who, ten years ago, turned down the most competitive college I'd been admitted to because there were some things about living in a big city that scared the hell out of me, including catcalling. Earlier this year, after a decade of living in different cities and growing a lot more comfortable in my own skin, I was walking down Market Street in San Francisco, south of Civic Center, when a probably homeless, probably druggy man got right up in my face and called me gorgeous, and it didn't even phase me.
    At some point, I realized that treating each whistle, holler, or unwelcome compliment as threatened rape just isn't evidence based. Most of these men are just looking to have their existence acknowledged by a pretty woman. It's annoying, pathetic, and I wish they'd stop, but I refuse to let it terrify me anymore.
    On the other hand, later that day, a separate group of men gave off enough of a different vibe that when they started yelling comments after I passed, it was enough to make me turn the corner and take the next street down the rest of the way to my destination. Not all catcalls are created equal, and sometimes it's hard to even pinpoint what the difference is.
    You struck a nerve with this one, as I was just discussing this very thing a few weeks ago with a group of high-school freshmen in my English class. We were discussing homosexuality because of an allusion to it in the book we were reading, and several boys made comments such as, "That's disgusting." We got into the debate and eventually a boy admitted that he was terrified/disgusted when he was once sharing a taxi and the other male passenger made a pass at him.
    The lightbulb went off. "Oh," I said. "I get it. See, you are afraid, because for the first time in your life you have found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force against you." The boy nodded and shuddered visibly.
    "But," I continued. "As a woman, you learn to live with that from the time you are fourteen, and it never stops. We live with that fear every day of our lives. Every man walking through the parking garage the same time you are is either just a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. Every time."
    The girls in the room nodded, agreeing. The boys seemed genuinely shocked.
    "So think about that the next time you hit on a girl. Maybe, like you in the taxi, she doesn't actually want you to."
    Another writes:
    I find any discussion of catcalling fascinating. I'm a 25-year-old male who has lived in Washington D.C. for three years. I constantly walk around the city at night with my female friends, often in less-than-great areas where catcalling is supposed to take place. Except for one memorable encounter with a homeless man, I've never observed any of my female friends being victimized by a catcall. At the same time, they all insist that it happens to them on a daily basis.
    I've always assumed that the reason for this strange discrepancy is that catcalling doesn't happen as frequently when I am around. I'm a pretty tall, strong looking man, and I'm guessing my presence quiets some would-be cat-callers. For this reason, I don't know if I can even begin to understand what young women are going through. It is pretty common for me to hear about a friend of mine getting cat-called and think to myself, "Man, I'd love for a women to comment on my ass while walking down the street", but I know that the reality for them must be much different.
    Another:
    Since I'm a man, until recently, the experience of women and catcalling was alien to me. Last summer, I was walking down State Street in Madison when a guy called out to me, "Hey, nice shirt!" It totally threw me off, because the shirt I was wearing was a basic, business-casual straight guy shirt.
    Me: "Huh? I bought it at Target."
    Catcaller: "Well, what have you got planned?"
    Me: "Ummm, looking for something to eat."
    Catcaller: "Oh yeah, I know this great pl..."
    Me: "I think I'll eat here" - and I practically dove into the Qdoba that happened to be where I was, even though I didn't want to eat Qdoba.
    I wasn't angry at the guy, but as I ate my burrito, it was a long meditation on "what the hell"? I mentioned it to my wife later and she just kind of sighed.
    BG is full of heterosexual men, have you ever catcalled before? Does it work the majority of the time? Do you feel like you're objectifying the women you catcall at?

  2. #2

    Needs a tl;dr.

  3. #3
    Brown Recluse
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    I've never done it, and I think it is stupid. Only shitty fat fucks that have zero shot at pussy do that crap.

    Also, they shouldn't have been walking in a warzone.

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    hey fucking white bitch is my go to line

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    The Anti Miz
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    I would think very few people on BG having any sort of experience with this outside of randomly witnessing it. i live in DC and my neighborhood is basically entirely under 40 including majority hot chicks and bros and i witness 0 cat calling. and you should see these girls, its a fucking hot slutathon and no one is yelling to them or saying any uncomfortable shit from what i see. and its extremely pedestrian heavy because driving in DC is for fgts.

  6. #6

    Having never personally catcalled at attractive women in public (because I'm an enormous pussy), I would have to say that I think the overwhelming percentage of these self-reported incidents are bullshit. They may feel threatened, but not all feelings are justifiable, and we should not respect feelings that arise out of irrational paranoia and fear. Something has changed in our society where you can't compliment a stranger on anything, because if they aren't seeking a compliment intentionally they could be offended and you could wind up with a label of attempted rapist or sexual harasser.

    That said, rape and molestation are very real occurrences. They happen to both genders, but unfortunately females are the ones that have let it control their lives and mindset. You can't live life being afraid of everything that could possibly happen. Mainly because of the near-infinite amount of bad shit that can possibly happen.

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    While catcalling is pretty fucking dumb, most of the people afraid of it in your links are fucking retarded.

    The dude in the first story was just looking at the girl, and she kept expecting him to grab his crotch or something, but she didn't. But somehow this story stuck with her all this time because of how horrible it was. lolwut? People are going to look at you, that doesn't mean they are assholes or creeps or rapists.

    Or the dude at the end that ran into a building and bought a lunch he didn't want because some dude tried to ask him out. God forbid someone sees someone cute and tries to ask them out.

  8. #8
    I'll change yer fuckin rate you derivative piece of shit
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    14 year old getting catcalls? Just proves once again that the #1 cause of statutory rape is sexy teenagers.

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    I'll change yer fuckin rate you derivative piece of shit
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    lol, I've eaten at that Qdoba on State Street in Madison 30 times or more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blubbartron View Post
    That said, rape and molestation are very real occurrences. They happen to both genders, but unfortunately females are the ones that have let it control their lives and mindset.
    you are the stupidest man alive

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    Quote Originally Posted by archibaldcrane View Post
    lol, I've eaten at that Qdoba on State Street in Madison 30 times or more.
    Running away from the gays eh?

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    The Anti Miz
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    i want to see the girl in the first part. i wonder if she is white

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andalusian girls View Post
    you are the stupidest man alive
    I'll grant you it's a gross generalization (not all women live in fear of it), but how many guys have you met that are/were afraid of being raped or molestation (outside of prison)? The incidence of that shit is far higher than most people give it credit for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyven View Post
    i want to see the girl in the first part. i wonder if she is white
    Do people call "china doll" at white girls?

    I think you know the truth tyven.

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    I'll change yer fuckin rate you derivative piece of shit
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    To be fair, there is no difference in looks between a 14-year old chinese chick and a 35-year old.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurell View Post
    Running away from the gays eh?
    Everyone loves my shirts.

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    I'll change yer fuckin rate you derivative piece of shit
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    But seriously though, catcalling is for minorities and pureblood southeastern european blue-collar whites

    Does anyone else do it?

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    Re: The Terror Of Catcalling

    Got hit on by gay dudes before. That shit is weird as fuck if you're not used to it but it put some things in perspective for me for sure. Gave me a bit of a confidence boost too though since I'm not a 'phobe.

    I remember going to use the stall in Grand Central Station, having a guy see me, instantly stop, turn around and then wait for me to finish. As soon as I did, saw him approach me, dodged the shit out of him thanks to a pillar between us, and fast walked out to my friend waiting for me and told her what happened. Some of you motherfuckers will never realize how creepy you are til some weird-assed dude tries to get at you.

    I live very close to NYC and had all of this stuff happen there to put it into perspective.

  19. #19

    Quote Originally Posted by archibaldcrane View Post
    lol, I've eaten at that Qdoba on State Street in Madison 30 times or more.
    The Old Fashioned is superior.

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    Milkster thread.

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