It’s Officially Cat-Calling Season. Do You Have Any Comebacks Lined Up?

street harassmentWith every spring and summer, comes the warmer weather, the less clothing and the inevitable cat-calling. If you live in a city where your main means of getting around is by foot, that cat-calling, or more specifically sexual harassment, is a daily occurrence. While some men think they’re doing you a favor by “complimenting” you, others are just, well, I don’t know — assholes, maybe?

For the majority of my life, my go-to response in such situations when I was feeling feisty and decided to say something, was the always super creative, “Go fuck yourself.” As I matured a bit, that winning comment evolved into, “That’s unwanted sexual harassment,” and that was only if I said anything at all. Most times, I drop my head, feel weird and continue on my way.

Last night while rocking a new spring dress, one that pretty much screams, “Hey! Look at my rack!” a man said to me, “Baby, I want to give you a slice of my heart! I want to give it to you now!” Had he straight-up made a comment about my boobs, I could have at least known how to respond if I wanted to, but this was something else. I didn’t take it as a compliment, but as my friend and I discussed just after the incident, he definitely got an A for originality.

Personally, I’m against comebacks when faced with sexual harassment on the street. As I mentioned, sometimes I just can’t help myself so I do lash out, which either results in further “compliments,” or the immediate silence of the cat-calling buffoon. However, I know a lot of my friends absolutely refuse to stay mum in such situations, and actually have a running list of proper responses that really put the gentleman harasser in their place.

So, tell me dear readers, do you have such a list for when cat-calling happens to you? Or do you stay quiet? Do you find your middle finger gets more exercise this time of year, or do you actually love what you hear and therefore walk with your head held a little higher?


Photo: ICanHasCheezeburger

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    • Samantha

      Most the time, I just stay quiet, but sometimes, if I’m feeling cranky or PMSing, I respond “Is that appropriate, young man?” no matter how old
      the guy is. The reactions are always really funny, and it distracts the dude, giving me a chance to move along quickly if I’m feeling uncomfortable.

      • Cara Crowes

        Or would you want some guy doing that to your mother?

    • Sean

      I feel like the only appropriate New York answer to “Baby, I want to give you a slice of my heart! I want to give it to you now!” is to pull out a switchblade and reply “I’d love some…may I take it myself?”.

      At least, that’d be my best-case movie scenario.

      • Roxie

        Love it!

    • Violet

      via Jen Dziura: “That is not an appropriate thing to say to a woman you don’t know.” I stop and stare at them. It makes them really uncomfortable.

    • Tania

      My reaction is to look confused, if it’s a drive-by catcalling (like the other day when some dude yelled “sexy” out his window). If it’s in person, I look scared and walk faster, which usually prompts a “I was just being friendly!” shout at my back.

      • Tania

        Is it obvious I am super good at in-person communication, and not even remotely awkward?

    • Elizabeth Kinports

      Honestly it depends on my mood. I might give a dirty look, I might say something snarky or flip them off, but most likely I’ll just ignore it/pretend I didn’t hear.

    • Meg

      Because I consider cat-calling incredibly immature, I offer an alternative, more appropriate suggestion to those who harass me on the streets with “Go play some Legos!” Their initial shocked reaction is priceless.

    • helpful_lemon

      I usually don’t react at all to ‘compliments’. But lip-smacking/kissy noises/whistling makes me SO angry. Two guys did that last summer while I was crossing a square full of people sitting outside of cafés, so I publicly shamed them by stopping, turning around and saying (in a very loud and pseudo-helpful voice) “OH SORRY, ARE YOU LOOKING FOR YOUR DOG? CAN I HELP YOU LOOK FOR THE DOG YOU LOST? THESE DISGUSTING SMACKING NOISES MUST MEAN YOU LOST A DOG, RIGHT? A POODLE, MAYBE?” Lots of snickering was heard.

    • dsar

      Why do women make a big deal out of it? I understand if he touched you, but it is just a compliment, I feel that there is a joke about hysterical women staring me straight in the face LOL

      • Lola

        It’s not just a compliment. I’m assuming, and I might be wrong here, that you’re not a female. Whenever a strange man approaches me on the street, expressing interest in me, specifically and sexually, it’s scary. It’s scary because he’s already fine with crossing the implicit boundary between strangers, and I have to start thinking “what other boundaries might he cross?” Even in a “safe” city, women have to be aware that verbal assault (and that’s what cat-calling is) might escalate into physical assault.

        Do you know what it’s like to be scared like that? I do. It’s not a compliment, and this isn’t a joke.

      • dsar

        Okay I kind of understand now

      • Lola

        I’m glad that you brought that point up, though – while I don’t presume to know the (varied) reason(s) why men catcall, I’m sure that there are a number of them who don’t mean to use it in a threatening way, or who think that they are paying a compliment. They are oblivious to the reality of what their actions mean/imply within a greater social context which includes a very large number of men who bully women.

        Anyhow, thanks :)