I was running to the track today and a random guy who had been playing soccer stopped me in the parking lot said, “Excuse me, I’m lost because I’m new here from Miami. Can you give me directions?”
Random guy: “I want to get to a place called your heart.”
Me: “Uh…never heard of it.” (I should’ve said “don’t have one”…alas)
Random guy: “Well, can I at least get your number?”
That may win a prize for tacky pickup lines, but, whoever you were, thanks for using actual words (particularly “excuse me” instead of “hey you”) rather than catcalling me like most guys do.
But in all seriousness, catcalling is a problem for me. I’m female. I’m a runner. It is summertime. Sometimes I run in a sports bra and shorts. And sometimes, likely because of the no-shirt part, I get catcalled. Or worse. Not just by guys my age, either: one time, I was running on a path adjacent to a golf course at 7 am and some middle-age men driving a golf cart catcalled me. (My thoughts: Grow up–you’re not fifteen, and even if you were, it still wouldn’t be appropriate behavior!) I personally don’t find (often rude) hollering flattering, and even if some girls do, it’s unfair to those who don’t (which I’m guessing is quite a few, at least based on the limited sample of my female runner friends) to assume that all girls like it. I’m pretty sure that most people don’t appreciate being whistled at like a dog or being addressed as “Hey bitch!”
So why is it culturally okay for guys to shout at girls they don’t know? Don’t give me that boys-will-be-boys crap. Let’s reverse the scenario: plenty of guys work out shirtless and don’t get hollered at by passing girls. In fact, if I catcalled a random guy, it would be weird and possibly provoke some sort of retaliation.
Guys, feel free to correct me, but I’m guessing that most catcallers are not actually looking for anything from object of their shouting other than attention: it’s a drive-by sort of affair–something to laugh about with the bros. See a girl, whistle and shout, move on. The worst she can do to you is flip the bird. There’s no risk involved.
I, on the other hand, find catcalling startling, annoying, and occasionally frightening. As a female who often runs alone, there is risk involved. [Aside: I think this topic actually relates to the current discussion of so-called rape culture. As much as I want to dig into that conversation right now, it would be better served by a separate post. So instead I’ll leave you to ponder this recent clip from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.] Even if your intent is not to scare me, sometimes you do. So don’t. If you think it’s funny because you’re “just teasing,” you’re acting like a fifth grader. So grow up. If your intent is to scare me, then you’re just being a jerk. So stop. And if your intent is to flatter me, then be more like the fellow today who used actual complete sentences and phrases like “excuse me.” He may not have gotten my number, but being a man who is brave enough to talk to me as a person will get you closer to my heart than any catcaller ever will.