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Catcalling Explained

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Why do guys whistle and make weird sounds towards passing by women? Do they really think it’s a charming practice and will be appreciated? Has anyone ever get laid doing so? Let’s take a look.

Have you ever felt bad passing a group of guys or being followed, knowing what to expect to happen or even passing as quickly as possible without making eye contact to not encourage them?

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If this doesn’t work you know what is likely to happen: “Hello sexy”, “Nice ass”, “Hello beautiful”, “Assalamu’alaikum mbak” calling, whistles and flicking. But that’s not everything – if you ignore them you get asked to at least say thanks for the compliments. Happens to most of us and not only just once. Story of our lives as a woman.

To be fair, this is not a solely Indonesian phenomenon but a global one, yet every time I have been asking myself what they expect to happen. I can’t imagine any woman that would ever appreciate such behavior or even feel flattered, then asks the guy for his number and they hook up? No way (If you think differently, I appreciate your comments below)! Most probably it’s just a way to show male “dominance” or how “brave” the guys are. Obviously, this is not about the woman passing by.

If you ask women about how they feel in such situations you will always get the same answers: Uncomfortable, a bit helpless, embarrassed.

However, what is the real reason this is happening in the first place?

It’s simply that the position of women in our society is “inferior”. Being inferior automatically makes men superior – welcome to patriarchy. Men are seeing themselves perceived as superior and prove that women are inferior. Reproduceable at more or less any time when the “inferior” woman passes by.

Men who whistle at women do this to feel better, stronger and superior and to prove their “Alpha” status in front of their peers. Yet, there are some more differences between the behavior or male and female groups.

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In general men act differently among themselves as women. Men groups act a lot more competitive. Social acting of men is generally riskier. It’s a constant competition. This very competition is a major factor in male socialization, in this case a competition who is brave enough to hit on most women. From the very beginning guys are learning this very competitive behavior. In their homosocial groups they engage competitively and define hierarchy by this.

This social pattern results in guys whistling after girls. They are educated from the very beginning that it is “manly” to devalue everything that is female. To feel superior, it is necessary to put a female down, as easy as that. And that image is difficult to maintain without women around to put down.

So, men do not offend us to hit on us. They do it to feel manlier. In front of their friends. In front of us. We are used for their social proof to be hierarchically higher than their friends. We are used to proof that they are “real” men.

Gender based imagination of a gender being superior which justifies catcalling is a problem. Especially because men are pushed into a role model that makes them believe it is a role model they must follow. It’s a downward spiral made from bad pick-up lines, rejection and inner fear. It’s important that men question such behavior.

Catcalling won’t make any woman happier and appreciate such compliments. No man will ever become manlier. And the plausibility of a date happening stays pretty much nonexistent. Particularly not because this behavior has never made someone being perceived as smart or charming. At least the last is a good argument to make catcallers shut up and hopefully realize that such ‘compliments’ are not cool.

What to do when being catcalled?

For me it works differently depending on the situation I am facing. I’d call them out like above. Or when I am nasty during period cramps, I’d say that they have just given a great example for why the guys are single and/or virgins. Or showing them the finger. It mostly leaves them stunned as they are not used to women speaking up and stand up for yourself.

When you do so, expect to be insulted in return at times. Being called a bitch might not feel nice but just remind yourself that their opinion doesn’t matter and they are caught in a manliness ritual that you have extremely disturbed.

Give no fucks and stand up for yourself. Do it for your liberty.

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