Hi. My name is Julia Volzke, and I am a 20 year old woman who has been catcalled, or by the politically-correct term street harassed, multiple times in my life. Now, I know that this sounds extreme, but if you had to stand in the shoes that over half the planet has had to, you’d have a problem too. Just walking down the street sometimes can be uncomfortable. I’m the type of girl that does not see if a person is checking me out. I look straight ahead, and I just don’t think about it. I ignore and keep walking because I just don’t want to see it.
Recently, I saw a viral video by Hollaback about a woman that walked around all parts of New York City for 10 hours in a hidden camera experiment to see how often she was catcalled or harassed. In 10 hours, she was verbally street harassed over 100 times. This did not include all the other whistles, winks and looks that she received within this time period. People of all different backgrounds and races catcalled and harassed her. One man that I found to be particularly unsettling walked beside her for over five minutes without a word after catcalling her. Another man followed her for a few minutes and asked her if she wanted to talk, and then, when she didn’t respond, he asked if it was because he was ugly. He continued to harass her with comments like “If I give you my number would you talk to me?,” and he later reiterated with “Too ugly for you?”
The surprising thing about this entire situation is that she was just wearing a black crew-neck t-shirt, black jeans and sneakers. She wasn’t wearing anything revealing or extremely tight. She was just walking around and the men had the audacity to think that catcalling was an adequate way to woo her.
Personally, I just block it all out, or I’m too much into my own little world that I just don’t see it. One time, during freshman year, I was in the dining hall going back up for dessert, and I remember a guy stopped, turned, looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat, didn’t stop when I caught his eye and said, “Excuse me?” Now, I’m an awkward person in general, but I was very uncomfortable when that happened and quite frankly I could have been described as “twitterpated.” Another instance was on Halloween. As a disclaimer, I was wearing tiny booty shorts and a flannel shirt tied up so that a good majority of my midriff was showing. I, according to what the male counterparts that I was accompanied by said, was rubbernecked and catcalled by at least one-third of the men walking the streets of Durango that night.
Being checked out or street harassed is a serious issue, and for most women, it’s uncomfortable. If you want to tell us that we are attractive, come up and tell us face to face. Don’t whistle at us. It is just unnerving. We are not dogs. We are human beings just like you but with two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y.
So, the issue isn’t just a certain demographic issue. It is an entire societal issue. According to ihollaback.org, 70 percent to 99 percent of the female population globally has experienced these “non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.” Statistically, almost all the women of the world have been catcalled sometime in their lives. So, we are not just dealing with an issue in the United States or in first world countries, but this is a worldwide issue.
So, my advice to you, whichever gender you are and whichever one you find eye-catching, please have the decency to go up and tell a person that he or she is attractive. The idea of whistling or shouting something at another person to tell them that they are cute is all wrong. Whatever happened to just being straight with someone about how you feel? Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and my wish is to see the equalization of genders in our world.