Reader, I married him: What men presumably think happens when they catcall
Tale as old as time
It’s probably the most romantic story you’ll ever hear.
It was a dark street. I’d been out with friends, and I was rushing home. No coat. It was warm that day, so I was wearing shorts – this is important because it’s what brought us together.
Like a Disney prince in a horse and carriage he drove slowly beside me in a white van. He leaned out the window. I walked faster. Our eyes met.
He shouted at me, and several other people in the street turned around – but it was as though he’d whispered it only to me. Whether it was the criticism of my outfit or the violent sexual imagery, something really just spoke to me.
From that moment on we were in love.
Well no, not really.
Is that how catcallers think it works though? Although it’s an experience that’s affected probably every woman you know, the motivation behind it is a grey area. Although I’ve got plenty of friends who complain about being catcalled, none of them have ever said: “hey, I really wanna marry that guy who wolf whistled me from his Subaru Impreza”.
This summer in London’s brief heatwave I’ve heard people complain about it even more. Research from an international survey, released this year by Cornell University, found that 84 per cent of women have been catcalled and verbally harassed before the age of 17. If you look at the statistics for British women, that percentage increases to 90. Today is women’s equality day, but as we celebrate the anniversary of having the ability to vote, it’s shit like this that reminds you there’s still a long way to go.
To be fair, a lot of the quintessential but slightly cringe “getting their attention” principles are there in catcalling. The difference is that on a date, at a party, on Tinder, you’re in a setting where people are trying to get attention. Walking somewhere, anywhere, when you’re catcalled, you’re probably just concerned with getting out of the awkward situation as soon as possible.
Like someone you can’t unmatch quickly enough, or an aggressive advertisement for a product you absolutely do not want, catcalling is anything but romantic.