Catcalling Isn’t Flattery
I never played sports as a kid. Oh, I took dance and played a little tennis, but I never really got into anything. I probably had the ability, but I didn’t have the drive (I am not very competitive- with others). By the time I showed interest in joining girls’ softball all of my classmates were hitting home runs, and I could barely catch a ball so I shied away from it. But at age 17 when I found my first cellulite dimple I started walking, then running, and I haven’t looked back since.
Running opened my eyes to how much better I could feel after vigorous exercise. And to how beautiful the early morning hours are. And to how much I hate being catcalled.
I was never the victim of this until I started running. And notice that I said victim, because I do view myself as just that. Oh, some women will try to tell you they are flattered by mens’ cajoling. Not me. If you look up the definition of “catcall” it is defined as a verbal sign of disapproval or contempt, which justifies why I feel so defensive. I feel insulted, yes, but I also feel violated- these Romeos are interrupting my personal time, my early morning ritual. And undressing me with their eyes.
While running I have received some colorful comments, such as, “Yo, b$@&%, you want my dick in your mouth?” Yeah, actually, that’s just what I need- how did you know?
Excuse me, I have to go vomit, now.
And one of my favorites, yelled out a car window, “You look like you belong in a concentration camp!” Being the shallow, physique-obsessed woman that I am, I was like, “Omg, thanks!” Were I Jewish I would have been mortified.
And the most recent, received at 6:02 this morning, “Why don’t you pick up the pace!” yelled at me from 100+ yards away by two very portly golfers who clearly have not run a mile since high school. I resisted flipping them off and ran on while grumbling something like, “Let’s see you get out here and try it.”
This behavior is deep rooted in centuries of disrespect for women, viewing women as lesser objects placed here for the pleasure and servitude of men. But how could we not have moved past this? How do men still hold these views (yes, I am making generalizations), and even if they don’t, why do they think this behavior is okay?
I am fortunate enough that this negative attention from men has never gone beyond verbal offenses, but after a close friend was attacked while running in broad daylight I am even more cautious. I wear ID, bring my cell phone, and steer clear of anyone remotely creepy. I am saddened and annoyed that women who are out running, doing something positive for themselves, something that many men are physically incapable of doing, are so frequently insulted.
What are your thoughts about this? Have any of you been the victim of catcalling verbal assaults? Where does this attitude toward women come from, and will it ever improve?