Catcalling Isn’t Flattery

July 6, 2010

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?

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7 Responses to Catcalling Isn’t Flattery

  1. pattypunker on July 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

    i don’t mind the random comment when it’s positive and not vulgar. but this kind of negative shit is just the schoolyard bully all over again. and honestly this kind of person probably does it to men and women runners, and cyclists, and in any situation they can get away with it. they prey on the vulnerable but we all know it’s their own inferiority complex. douchers!


  2. Holly B on July 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    It is scary to say the least. You want to say something back, but often fear of reprisal stops you. Maybe you will catch them on a off day and verbal will turn to physical. All you can really do is blow it off, carry your mace, phone, stun gun, whatever and keep going. Keep going and keep remembering the guys that do this are probably just compensating for their teeny tiny penis’.


  3. Elly Lou on July 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    You notice that Disney never made a movie that started out with the dashing prince shouting “That’s an ass that needs some slapping!”


  4. Natalie on July 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Elly Lou’s comment says it all!


  5. kris on July 7, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    These men are bullies and losers. Run right past them. Every time.

    They’ll be dead soon, keeling over from a combo of bad diet, laziness, and stupidity. Stupidity is toxic, you know.

    You just run right past them.


  6. carole miller on July 10, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    From a former runner now a walked:

    I would (and do) dress as modestly as possible when out walking or running or whatever To do everything I could to not draw attention to myself. Immodest dress will do it every time. If there’s nothing to attract the wierdos attn. they will place it elsewhere. Hopefully nowhere!

    No point in having to learn the hard way.

    No way to change others but give them nothing much to look at!


  7. In Dancing Heaven | The Sweetest on June 13, 2011 at 4:38 am

    […] dropped out of ballet and moved onto more dangerous, intimidating sports like gymnastics or softball.  And eventually, I did, too.  Minus the sports.  Although, I never lost my love for dancing.  […]

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