Cat Calling

Most of my pre-teen years and some adolescent years I spent them with my Grandma. I spent summers, long weekends and weekends by her side. She lived with my uncles and their wives. She also had a lot of birds. Her favorite were the cockatoos. I loved them, too. I learned to whistle from her and got some tunes from my uncles to teach the birds. One of them was the cat-call.

I learned to whistle it low and slow and fast and high pitched. The birds learned it so well from me that when I passed by they whistled it on queue. I didn’t think much of it. I now know how disrespectful it is. I know what the general population thinks of it and it’s supported by Urban Dictionary. It’s pretty disgusting, right- the intent of a whistle- a cat call?

I have mixed feelings toward it however. As a feminist I’m supposed to be totally repulsed by it and by the person who’s doing the calling. I their intent and I understand how it’s demeaning and how it can sometimes lead to something dangerous. But in my Latin/Hispanic culture it’s typical female shaming. “No handes volteando a los que te chiflen porque van a decir que eres una de esas mujeres voladas.” It’s a bad thing to be the target of such a thing. Why? It could be the way you’re dressed (too revealing), it could be the way you walk (too seductive), it could be the way you look at them (too luring). Whatever, it’s not the men who are to blame; it’s the woman and her evil ways.

However, when I was taking a Woman and Gender Studies course at my university I learned from my professor that I don’t have to choose between my feminism and the other. And is a powerful word and I should use it to save my life. For example, a joke can by funny and offensive. I don’t have to choose a side because it can be mind torturing. If I think it’s strictly funny I am choosing not to mind those who it offends; if I choose strictly offensive I have no sense of humor (all in context though, right? sometimes it can be “too soon”).

Here is what I am getting at: most of the time when I get a cat call or whistle I roll my eyes and think that the guy/man should grow up. Sometimes I flip them off or shout some random shit at them if they’re doing a drive-by. When I’m the one passing them and they holler I just snear at them or just completely ignore them because it is disrespectful. But sometimes, somewhere inside of me there is a sly smile. I raise my head a little bit and I walk a little taller. I don’t know why- it’s automatic. Is it because somehow I’m desirable? Wait, no! My body is desirable- NOT me- the person, the individual. These thoughts in hindsight make me mad at myself.

check this out: Sexy Walk from the Science of Sex Appeal.

can that be it? Is the way I walk the reason cat-calls exist and it’s just an acknowledgement and men don’t know their limits? I’m mad at society for continuing things like this and I get mad myself for my thoughts.

What are your experiences with cat calling? Thoughts?


2 thoughts on “Cat Calling

  1. Bri says:

    I have had similar feelings regarding cat calls and similar actions. Personally, I’m always a little bit torn between feeling offended, and feeling flattered that my body is seen as attractive/desirable. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have your physical attractiveness acknowledged, but there is a fine line between a complement and street harassment. I guess my reaction to such depends on the context. Some contexts make the cat-call seem more like a flirty compliment, and others make it seem more degrading and insulting, even threatening at times. It just all depends on context for me.

    • i was thinking the same thing on the fine between being complimentary or street harassment. i think i would rather get “i hope you trip!” from some random dudes while running than a “DAMN GIRL” but then again i’m with my headphones on when i run on city streets for the same reason. 🙂

      thanks for your comment.

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