The Truth About Catcalling

It's not funny, cute, or a compliment... and I definitely don't want to have to deal with it.

The Truth About Catcalling

Last Wednesday night, I had just gotten off work and I was tired, hungry, and only had a quarter tank of gas left. I pulled off at my regular gas station and was making my way to the cash register when I noticed an older man standing right in my way. We did that awkward dance-around-each-other thing, and I smiled and said, "Excuse me". He moved out of my way, and then when I was a few paces ahead of him, he called out to me,

"Oh, hey, beautiful!"

At this moment, you're either thinking one of two things: 1. OK... and? or, 2. That's creepy and weird and I'm sorry that happened. For those of you who don't understand why this would make me feel uncomfortable, allow me to explain. This is why being hit on by strangers (particularly older ones) is so wrong:

1. It wasn't a genuine compliment.

If this man was trying to uplift my spirits and show he appreciated me as a person, there was any number of things he could have said to me, ranging from "I like your hair," to "You have really nice eyes!" As cliché as it sounds, it's not what he said, but the way he said it. His tone was all too familiar -- somewhere between mockery and self-amusement. Whether it's directed at you or your friend, it never gets easier to hear.

2. If I had walked into the gas station with a guy, he wouldn't have said anything to me.

This stranger would've assumed said guy was my father, uncle, brother, or boyfriend. And being someone's daughter, niece, sister, or girlfriend is more respectable than being just me.

3. If I had responded to him with the way I felt, it would've been seen as rude.

Saying "Hey, don't talk to me like that," would've come off as rude and uncalled for. But somehow making unwarranted comments about my appearance was not.

4. In that situation, I was vulnerable. But that didn't matter.

I was alone and in a hurry in a dark, empty gas station. He could've said any number of things to me -- and what's worse is that he could've done more than just talk to me. That's what's scary about this whole situation: you never know what's going to happen. And in that moment, we both knew that.

5. I don't exist for anyone else's entertainment purposes.

I came to fill up my gas tank, not so you could look at my ass and tell me I'm pretty.

There have been plenty of instances when I was checking out at a grocery store and the cashier looked at me and said something like, "That's such a cool wallet!" or "I love your nose ring!" There's a semi-fine line between a stranger trying to relay that they enjoy an aspect of your personality and appearance and someone who is just trying to invade your personal space and tell you that you're hot because they can.