What It Really Means When A Man Catcalls You

The catcall isn't meant to brighten your day.

woman looks annoyed MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

When a video of a woman who walked the streets of New York City and encountered 10 hours of sexual harassment and catcalling went viral, the only thing more disturbing than the video were the comments that came after. Some said she was "asking for it" and others thought she should feel lucky.

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It's proof once again that some people just don't get it — but it's not just men.


Following this, there was a piece that was making the rounds about catcalling, and it made my girlfriend, who can barely leave the house in a parka without getting sexually harassed, really annoyed. The original piece was written by a woman, and she was taking the point of view that girls shouldn't get upset about getting catcalled. It's just a compliment, so why get upset?

While I think that it's fine that the author doesn't mind getting catcalled, I have to disagree with her reasoning. It's not a compliment — at least that's not the intention of the jerks who do it.

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The idea that women should appreciate catcalling is weird because it's implying that catcalling is done with respect. It suggests that when some guy sees a girl walking down the street and shouts something at her about her body, he's doing so because he thinks it will make her day better. That's not what's happening. Not even close.

Here's something that shouldn't be a secret: guys who catcall think it will somehow lead to them having sex. I've never once seen it be successful, but guys keep doing it, and that's the reason.

Maybe they don't want to admit it, and guys who catcall usually try to pretend that this isn't why they're doing it. They're lying. The reason they lie about it is that it sounds stupid to say, "I yelled at the girl from across the street because I thought she'd stop what she was doing and instead have sex with me." But that's what's really going on, and the guys doing it don't care if it's disrespectful.

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Of course, it's disrespectful! Many girls complain about it, yet it keeps happening. If it was meant respectfully, then as soon as women started talking about how it made them uncomfortable, it would've stopped.

For example, when I go to restaurants, I treat the waiter with respect (because I'm not a sociopath). I know that waiters hate it when customers sit at a table for a long time after they've finished their food and paid their check, so I don't do it. For the same reason, I don't shout at every girl I think is pretty. The guys who catcall are just hoping that the girl's self-esteem is low enough that she'll just be happy that somebody has noticed her.

Now, I'm not saying that girls who enjoy getting catcalled are wrong. It doesn't mean that they have low self-esteem, daddy issues, or anything like that. Some people are rightfully proud of their looks and enjoy the attention, which is fine. But they shouldn't trick themselves into thinking that the catcall means something that it doesn't.

The catcall isn't meant to brighten your day. What's actually said when somebody catcalls you is "I want to have sex with you, but I don't want to treat you with respect!" When you think about it like that, then it's pretty easy to see why most women don't enjoy hearing that.


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Michael Hollan is a stand-up comedian/writer who focuses on relationships and entertainment and news.