Thursday, 27 June 2019

Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting

Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting. 
In the mirror I worried about my outfit being.... too bright, too revealing, too noticeable? A green neon jacket, over-the-knee length boots, a short skirt. Would I get hassle for the outfit? Stares and looks of disapproval? Trouble? Unwanted attention? Oh, fuck the lot of them - I'll wear what I bloody want, the reckless side of Sophie that I much prefer to derail the sensible side of Sophie shouted somewhere in my subconscious. 
But my worries soon materialised in front of my eyes - in the form of two male builders high on some scaffolding, pointing down and laughing at me. As my boyfriend stood taking a mere few photos of me on my phone, the builders started talked loudly about Instagrammers, making fun. I hoped they weren't referring to me but it was blindingly obvious they were, seeing as we were the only ones around getting photos. Trying to stay calm I went over to Graham and we paused the pictures momentarily. "Ignore them", he said. "They're probably not even talking about you", I knew he was trying to make me feel better, but unease was already spreading through my system. We attempted to get some more photos. I was happy to let their ignorance wash over me and leave things. Until. Until in clear view of the busy walkway they joked that "we won't be finishing our job today and we can tell our boss it's because we've been watching this blonde girl doing her photoshoot", further whistles and jibes were made, more pointing and laughing, directly this time. 

I felt vulnerable and violated, like I was standing there practically naked. They made me feel embarrassed, humiliated. Scared and targeted. And for what? Daring to stand there in a skirt? To exist? To be female and in front of their eyes for a mere few minutes?


Occasionally in my life there have been wonderful moments of rare courage where I've been pushed too far by people, and an explosion of anger, truth and vitriol comes pouring out like petrol. It happened with my mum's friend, who is renowned for being a bit of a nasty cow, and, two days after my Grandad died, she started getting arsey with me so I told her exactly what I bloody thought of her and her bitchy behaviour. It happened with my driving instructor when I was taking my practical test - he was being a sexist pig and thought he could get away with it, until I gave him what for. We argued in the car before he told me I'd passed my test. It also happened with an old man who once called me over just to tell me how awful I looked in my jeans. Let's just say after the shouty lecture I gave him I don't think he'll be bothering young girls in the street again about their fashion tastes.
And it happened when the catcalling did. My blood boiled, and unable to stop myself in front of the public, I decided those vile oinks needed a few reminders of how to respect females - and stop wanking each other off over a bright coloured jacket and a Topshop skirt. "DO YOU HAVE A MOTHER? DO YOU HAVE A SISTER? WOULD YOU LIKE OTHER MEN TO TREAT THEM LIKE THIS, YOU SEXIST DICKHEADS?! HOW WOULD IT MAKE THEM FEEL?" No response came from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Quelle surprise. 

I think they were a bit taken aback that someone was actually challenging their behaviour. Two grown men, egging each other on, showing off, were suddenly silenced and didn't appear to understand the connection between their mothers and sisters and myself. So thick and dense that they couldn't fathom the notion of other males treating their mothers or sisters or (god forbid any self-respecting woman dates one of those parasites) girlfriends in the same way as they were treating me in the here and now. After the initial confusion had left their little-boy-lost faces, one of them piped up: "Calm down, it's only a photo". Great comeback, really sensational. Award-winning. Only a photo? Exactly. We're only getting a photo yet look at you two up there, on your scaffolding, making such a big fuss and showing the world how thimble-sized your dicks are. I turned away, but that reckless side of me couldn't let it go before yelling a few more colourful phrases their way. It felt good. I'd tried to reason with them, to make them see what they were doing but they couldn't be reasoned with. So calling them a few choice names under the sun seemed more fitting.
As we walked off I was shaking so hard I dropped my sunglasses and bag on the ground. I was in a state, my nose started running and tears stung my eyes. To my dismay a few people around were giving me disapproving looks, most of them women. Everyone around us had completely ignored the catcalling and carried on as if it were perfectly normal, acceptable behaviour which speaks worrying volumes in this supposedly modern day and age. One older woman muttered about "maybe now we'll get some peace and quiet". This to me was just as sickening as the catcalling; for it was fine for two men to be abusing me in the street, making lewd remarks and treating me like a piece of meat but here I was, the villain of the piece for wanting to defend myself? I'm usually quiet and reserved. Guarded. But sometimes there are times in life when loud is needed. I wasn't willing to walk away without fighting their harassment first. 

I wasn't willing to be objectified because of what I wore that day. I certainly wasn't willing to let them think it's OK to carry on behaving this way to every future female that happens to walk past them wearing a skirt. 
Later that night, I spoke on my Instagram stories about what had happened. Initially nervous about opening up and being so vocal about the catcalling, I was overwhelmed by all the kind messages I received in response. It made me realise how vital speaking out was, and it also gave me strength and faith as encouragement, power and hope rang through each reply. It took me a few days to realise that out of a horrible experience came unity and girl power, empathy and wisdom, promise and hope from other beautiful and spirited women I'm lucky enough to know and love. It reminded me that women are fucking powerful, and will only continue to shine harder and glow brighter. The catcalling was a nasty reminder that it still occurs unwanted and unprovoked on a daily basis, but that we aren't prepared to take it. That we won't stop until things change. Speaking out about it scares me, this post makes me nervous, but no way in hell is leaving it unwritten any kind of option after what happened. 

After the catcalling incident, I started to remember other similar situations I'd been in, made to feel vulnerable and powerless by men. At 17, back in 2007, I was walking across my street when two builders on roofs whistled and yelled after me. "Alright darling?" Laughing pathetically as I turned and told them to fuck off. "She said fuck off! She said fuck off!" They parroted. At 20, my boyfriend and I were walking in the park when a van roared past "Up your fanny, love! Up your fanny!" One man yelled, leaving me speechless and shocked. Naively I wondered whether it was my fault for wearing a shorter dress than usual, as my mum told me not to be so ridiculous and it didn't matter what I was wearing, no-one should ever think that behaviour tolerable, whilst Graham managed to see the company name on their van and reported it. A woman answered the phone and once we'd explained what had happened told us there'd be an investigation and at the very least a suspension. At 23, a gang of builders turned up unannounced to do some roofing work (my dad had forgotten to tell me) and I saw ladders and thought they were coming to break in. Caught unaware I opened the door and they found my fear hilarious, all gathered in a gang around my front door, enjoying the intimidation. When I rang the company to complain the male manager brushed it off "it was just lads being lads". And at 27, two old men making light of me in an interview, leaving me hot with humiliation and making me feel like a failure. Only last week two different men made two inappropriate remarks about an outfit I was wearing, both unnecessary and alarming.
I'm writing this post because cat-calling is still poisoning, prominent and not seen as the problem it so clearly is in near 2020. Catcalling isn't complimentary or harmless; it's frightening and vile. Catcalling isn't flirty banter or desired attention, it's unwanted harassment. Women should be able to walk down the street in any outfit they choose without having to feel scared of car horns, thugs shouting suggestively out of the window and sexual remarks yelled after them. Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting. When the world finally awakens to this fact fully, only then can things change for the better ♥︎

25 comments:

  1. Well done Sophie for bravely speaking out on this subject, a really honest post to help other females have the courage to deal with this situation!

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  2. I'm sorry that this happened to you, but you absolutely had every right to speak up and speak your mind to them. In this day and age you'd think their thinking would at the least be a little more evolved. And for what it's worth, I LOVE that skirt on you; it looks brilliant :) x

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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  3. Hello darling I am so sorry to hear that you went through this Just want to let you know that you dress the way you want and nobody should make you feel bad about anything Your style express who you are you wear what makes you feel beautiful you dress for yourself I also think you are a little like me sensitive Us sensitive people feel 100 times more than others things make us feel so bad that becomes traumatic I am slowly learning to deal with it after many many years I still have a long way to go but also remember you are better than anyone who make you feel bad Keep doing what you love I hope your weekend is so wonderful that you will forget the bad days Take care xoxo Cris
    http://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2019/06/interview-with-cris-by-swarnaz.html?m=1

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  4. I'm really glad that you speak up about it because oftentimes this kind of disgusting behavior is tolerated by others. We need more women like you to puth them in their place.

    http://sarahrizaga.blogspot.com

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  5. I'm really sorry that they made such horrible and unwanted comments towards you! Why can't people just mind their own business and let others get on with what they are doing! I'm really proud of you for standing up to them and challenging what they were doing though, they might end up thinking twice about it in the future! ♥♥♥ All my love sweet one. xxx

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  6. Thank you for such an honest post. I'm sorry about your experience. Good for you for speaking up :)

    https://www.chicnpink.com

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  7. So sorry that this happened to you and you are so brave for sharing this story. Love your outfit and the colors look amazing together, so pretty!! x

    Yiota
    pinkdaisyloves.blogspot.com

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  8. So sorry this happen to you.
    Your outfit rocks!I love it

    https://villemo20.blogspot.com

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  9. Definitely we should not accept such treatment, we can wear what we want and this does not entitle anyone to express their sexist and rude opinions. I'm sorry that it happened to you but I think such kind of people like these males will never achieved anything in life, even their job proves it - being builders it's not ambitious. You are so brave my dear and you did very well! I'm proud of you!
    Btw, you look fantastic, I love your outfit, that combo of colors is so lovely!

    jointyicroissanty

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  10. I am so proud of you for standing up for yourself, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to say anything! It really is awful that this kind of behaviour still goes on and worse is that it's still condoned. You absolutely did the right thing. And your outfit is fab! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

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  11. Great job for standing up to these guys and defending yourself. I hope this never happens to you again.

    www.fashionradi.com

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  12. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Men are trash. Srsly, how inconsiderate of them. Women's bodies are not objects! When are they going to understand this? I had this experience before while commuting to my internship. We were in this jeepney (a public transpo) and we were all squished together and this old dirty man next to me groped me. He was hiding his hand behind his big bag and he was almost about to feel my crotch and that's it. I adjusted my position and he stopped, but I wish I'd done something. I wish I fought back, but I was just so scared even if there were other people around me. I felt powerless. Now I have this phobia in crowded public places esp when men are around. Oh well. Anyway, you are amazing! Love the outfit! x

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  13. I had a similar situation and it's awful when someone doesn't respect you. You told them what you think about it and they probably won't do that again.
    https://matiime.blogspot.com/

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  14. Catcalling is never acceptable. Women shouldn't have to worry about what they are wearing in the fear of having to deal with immature men whistling and running eyes up and down you. So glad you made a post about this and spoke out!
    Aleeha xXx
    https://www.halesaaw.co.uk/

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  15. This is a fun neon outfit, what a shame you had such a bad experience taking photos though! I think people can be so rude and nosey when they see people taking photos, that's part of the reason why I take photos in my back yard when i can, not worth the hassle, haha! Although it is also because it's too tricky to juggle a tripod and a dog and two toddlers when we are outside!

    I hope that you are having a great week so far and you don't let this experience get you down :)


    Away From Blue

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  16. I'm so sorry to read about this. It is so sad. I can't understand why people don't look themselves and their life, but comment other people. Girls and woman sometimes can been so mean, instead supported each other. If I have similar situation I think in my head that these people are sad and they don't have their life under control and because it they comment other people and what the doing. Just forget them and continue with what you love. You look so beautiful on photos and I like your outfit.

    New Post - http://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2019/07/lumene-nordic-hydra-lahde-arctic-dew_4.html

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  17. Aww my dear, sorry for experiencing this horrid behaviour from grown ass men. Why people think its okay to do something like that is above me. Kudos to you and your boyfriend for holding your composure. Loving the bold and happy outfit here. You look wonderful Sophie dear. :-)

    https://www.missymayification.co.uk

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  18. I think your choice of words was ideal; mentioning mothers/sisters and other female relatives and loved ones is a brilliant way of bringing awareness to those shouting out! I've found over time I just ignore catcalling; which isn't the way to deal with it, but it's just become easier over time - I'm sad to admit! Hope you're having a lovely weekend so far Sophie (besides this event!!).

    aglassofice.com x

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  19. So agree with you! You did a good job in bringing awareness to the issue!

    www.sundaydahlias.com

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  20. There are times when I just take a look a society and say "Really, is THIS what humankind has worked years for?" All the sexist, discriminating people whose egos are too fragile to ever tolarate someone different from them make me question my state in this society and sometimes, I lose hope. I give up. I feel too weak to stand up against them, I feel like I'm melting in a crowd who thinks differently. But then I realize, there are people like you who stand up and then I gain power, realizing I'm not alone. Don't ever question your position, you are right the way you are. Thanks for being strong, Sophie.

    Love,
    i.b. | http://soundslikeidil.blogspot.com

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  21. I absolutely love this sassy and so so important post!!! I could not agree with you more and I am so proud of you for speaking out about this, this post is so getting shared! Catcalling is vile and makes me feel so insecure. It is in no way a compliment, it objectifies women and highlights power inequality we sadly still experience. I will make sure to report people who do it from now on - I have never done that, just sometimes given them the finger haha. xxx

    113thingstosay.com

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  22. You were so incredibly brave standing up to them. And like you said, I too believe they were probably shocked to be called out by it, because no one ever does. I know when its happened to me I've kept my head down like I didn't hear. It's a disgusting practice and guys are such pricks sometimes. I bet NO I am SURE those dickheads are the kinds that mock feminists and complain and proclaim they want "straight pride" parades. So don't feel too bad Sophie over these GIGANTIC ignoramuses. At the same time it's sad that in this day and age people like this are still around. Also the fact that other women stood there and did nothing but judge. Absolutely mortified. It's things like this that make me think when the aliens are going to come and wipe our sorry asses out! Dramatic I know! But no one ever deserves this.

    Sxx
    daringcoco.com

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  23. Thank you for touching such an important topic here. I felt the same way on Sunday for wearing shorts (like mom shorts, not short shorts), I felt cute in them but I thought more than twice before stepping out of my house in them. It took a lot of mental strength to walk in them (imagine Mexican streets), but I'm glad I did. Because there is nothing wrong with it, and acting like there is, and avoiding these beautiful garments is going to maintain the horrible mindset in men and people in general. Thank you for taking your step for normalizing freedom :)

    Lindifique

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  24. Catcallers are a**holes and they give off negative vibes because of the unwanted attention. Unfortunately as women we are constantly subjected to this constant harassment. Your pics came out gorgeous despite the rude men's comments.
    LaToya
    www.toyastales.blogspot.com

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