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Don’t catcall me on International Women’s Day

08 Mar 2016

Today, Tuesday the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day. This evening there’s a specially organised run to celebrate, for both women and ‘wingmen’ (supporting males). I wish I was going. I love running. I love running in numbers, better socialising, more motivation. But also because it reduces the amount of catcallers.

Today I was catcalled and it bothered me especially because it is International Women’s Day. It felt particularly disrespectful. Catcalling is never ever a compliment.
‘Catcalling is never ever a compliment.’
Catcalling is the simplest form of gender prejudice. It happens globally, and it happens every single day. I’ve been catcalled, whistled at, and propositioned since I started secondary school – when I was still clearly a child. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you are, what time it is or how many other girls you’re with – a catcaller will always take their chances. Why do men think that it’s attractive? Has a man engaged positively with anyone they’ve catcalled or received a positive response – ever? I’m genuinely curious.

I find strength when I’m with friends, able to defend the herd, shouting back with annoyance and asking for us to be left alone. I can be particularly mouthy and I’m not proud of that, but the threat and the fear is real. When I’m on my own I’m usually too afraid to act. Not every male is a rapist, but every catcaller immediately has unspoken potential, no matter what they’ve said.

I once thought a catcaller who stopped me was a charity fundraiser. He wasn’t. When I rejected him, he emptied his bottle of water over my head as I walked away and hurled the empty plastic at my back. This was in front of a bus stop full of people who were astounded to find out I didn’t even know the guy.

And that’s not even on the worst end of the scale for other females.

Today is International Women’s Day. Today I was brave.

When a truck driver wolf-whistled at me and shouted something intelligible through his open window as he drove past I was frustrated.  A couple of metres down from me he got stuck in a red light. We caught eyes in his side mirror as I marched up, internal Beyonce sass empowering me. He instantly looked worried.

Xandria

“Did you just whistle at me?” He shrugs. “SO disrespectful. You do realise it’s International Women’s Day?” The words that fall out my mouth are small and feeble, but my intention and meaning was clear.

He gaped at me, his face reddening. “Oh shit, I forgot!”

“Misogynist.” Other people in their cars and pedestrians are looking. I give him a sarcastic queen’s wave. “Have a nice day.”

Today is International Women’s Day. But everyday we should be able to walk without catcalling, fear or the need for sassy responses to sexism.