Nice Ass! Not even grandmas are safe from D.C.'s street harassers.

Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster

It’s early evening in Adams Morgan, and I’m tracking a nice ass in a pair of bluejeans as it glides down the Columbia Road sidewalk. I’m matching its pace, keeping my distance, 15 steps or so behind, so I can watch, so no one notices I’m watching.

I’m not the only one. As the woman moves up the sidewalk—past a vendor’s cart booming Spanish music, past another vendor selling belts—men crane their necks and follow with their eyes. Guys walking toward her turn and stare as she passes. They mutter to themselves and shake their heads.

The ass belongs to Kimberly Klinger, a 5-foot-3 27-year-old who moved to D.C. from Pittsburgh in 2001. The attention doesn’t please her. But it’s not the hungry eyes that make her want to hit somebody. It’s what often comes next—the kissy noise, the “Hey baby,” catcalls of “Hey, mami, you look so good,” and “Hey, I’ve got a big one for you.”

A week or so earlier, when I first heard about Klinger, I didn’t believe her story. I know it happens. But every day, sometimes more than once? Klinger must be supermodel hot, delusional, or walking around in a bikini top.

Now I’m following her, waiting for something more than stares, feeling ridiculous. She has agreed to walk the streets as a live decoy to show me what life is like for women in D.C. In addition to the jeans, she’s wearing tennis shoes and a black tank top that shows just enough cleavage to be in good taste. It’s the outfit she wore today to her job at a film production company. She is good-looking. Not supermodel hot, but sexy. If I were the type of guy who yelled out to women on the street, she’d be a candidate, I guess.

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We’ve been walking for three blocks when I see him: about 30 yards out, on the far edge of the sidewalk, a short man in a baseball hat and jeans. When he sees Klinger, he cuts an angle, makes a beeline toward her. He keeps coming as they approach, bearing down, leering. Klinger looks straight ahead, keeps walking. Then, at the last moment, just before the man crashes into her, he straightens out, brushes by. “Sexy,” he says in her ear.

Not, “Hey sexy, can I get your number?” Just “sexy.” He doesn’t look back. He veers to his side of the sidewalk and moves on. That was bizarre, I’m thinking. I should follow him, try to interview him, learn more about this brazen and creepy approach. But my bait is strolling away. I follow her, taking quick steps to catch up.

As we move on, I realize we are just getting started. A block up the sidewalk, outside Mexican Pepito’s Bakery, two guys are eating cheesecake. They are swiveled around in tall chairs, scoping out women. I can see what is about to happen. When Klinger enters their range, the younger one in sunglasses starts calling out “Hi…hi…hi.” Again, Klinger doesn’t break stride. She passes by the two men as if she’s deaf.

“You could say hi,” the younger man yells to her retreating form. When I reach them, their eyes are still locked on it. “She’s got an ass though,” the young guy says to his buddy.

I follow Klinger to the corner, speeding up to catch her. “Not bad, huh?” she says, and flashes an ‘I told you so’ smile. And she’s right. I am surprised. More than that, I’m intrigued. Klinger asks if I want to keep going, draw out a few more. Maybe another day, I tell her. I double back to the bakery where the two men are on to a topic other than Klinger’s curves. I introduce myself.

The guy in the sunglasses is Rudy Contreras, a 25-year-old limo driver. The other man is Sam Gannon, 40, his boss, who owns the limo company. Gannon tells me Contreras is the man to talk to if the topic is street hunting for women.

“Yeah, I always do it,” says Contreras. He is happy to explain the process. “What I do is I ask how is their day. I ask to help with their bags. I give a nice compliment to her. I say, ‘You are beautiful. Can I get to know you?’ ”

Contreras is a nice guy who seems to have an incredible, almost insatiable attraction to women. The way he describes it, he’s like a Boy Scout, on the lookout to help any woman with anything she needs, to make her life more comfortable, maybe to pick her up in the process. The catcall is one of his tools.

I ask if it works, if women sometimes stop in their tracks after a particularly deft compliment. Does he get a date out of it? “Of course,” he says, but he doesn’t offer specifics, just a motto that boils down to the old one about how you have to swing the bat if you expect to hit a home run. “You’re not going to get a number looking at her,” Contreras says. “You’ve got to say something.”

I ask him about Klinger, the fastball he just whiffed. He’s excited to talk about that, too. “It’s tough in D.C.,” he says. “Especially with white girls. They are stuck up, man. Bitches.”

Contreras thinks it is bad form for women like Klinger to walk by without acknowledging a compliment, to just ignore you like you aren’t even there. It pisses him off. “At least wink at me or wave back,” he says. “Giggle or something. Don’t walk past like you didn’t hear me.” He says it’s different in Texas. He says white women there are crazy about Hispanic guys and yes, they do respond to catcalls.

So why the hell do you take Columbia Road home and why live in Mount Pleasant, anyway, if you can’t tolerate a few catcalls? Klinger knows the argument about how catcalling is part of Hispanic culture and how she shouldn’t impose her values on others. She doesn’t want to come off as the silly liberal-arts girl shocked by the big city, but when it happens to her, it grates on her nerves, scares her, makes her feel dirty.

“Why should we accept that?” she says of the culture argument. “Why can’t I hate that?”

Klinger calls herself a “raging feminist.” She admits she is probably more sensitive to callouts than others. She is savvy enough to realize some women brush it off, some take it as a compliment, and some might even get off on it. But to her, the shouts are blatant objectification, Women’s Studies 101.

After meeting Contreras and Gannon, I’m thinking maybe Klinger’s approach is a bit too academic. Contreras seems like a good guy on the lookout for a good woman. Maybe the shouts are just men trying to pick up women, no different than starting a conversation at a bar, just more cut-the-shit, more matter-of-fact.

And maybe it works. Maybe a well-placed catcall sometimes gets you that phone number, gets you a date with that woman you notice on the street. Maybe it gets you more. Why else would a man coo “Hey, baby” to random sets of legs unless every once in a while a nonnworking girl asks you back to her apartment? For the next week, I roam Washington considering these questions, talking to women, following them, hunting for habitual catcallers, trying to learn their secrets.

(Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster)

It’s early on a Monday morning. I am leaving the Chinatown Metro station when I see a blond woman standing well over 6 feet in platform heels. Her tight black dress hangs inches below her ass and drops deep in the front, exposing a good portion of breasts that are surprisingly large for her rail-thin body. Catcall bait for sure. I step in behind her as she walks.

As I follow her, she passes groups of idle young men waiting at bus stops, homeless men begging change, suits on their way to the office. She passes them all and nothing happens. Not a single comment. Maybe it’s the time of day. Maybe it’s the section of the city. I keep following.

Then, on the corner of 8th and E Streets NW, she hits fertile soil. Five hard hats—white, black, and brown—lounge on the sidewalk eating Cheetos. I have visions of ear-splitting wolf whistles, guys chewing on their hands like Lenny and Squiggy, the full treatment. The blonde doesn’t cut to the other side of the street. She strolls right past them, unsteady on her heels, bare legs at eye level. A couple of the men glance up from their snack. No one says anything.

Catcalling is unpredictable. One day, I am near the Columbia Heights Metro station, talking with two high school boys trolling for girls in front of CVS. I’ve just watched one of them yell to a sexy teenager and receive no response. I ask him what he usually says to girls on the street. “When I’m drinking, the words just flow out,” he says. “When I’m sober, I don’t know what the fuck to say.”

Then, as I wait to see more of the boys’ follies, a small, stocky woman in a pink polo shirt walks by holding the hand of a little boy. By the looks of her wrinkled face, the boy is her grandson. As they pass, a green Voyager minivan slows down on the street. The side door slides open. A man leans out. “Hola, señora,” he yells in a sticky-sweet tone of the international come-on. He slides the door shut, and the van drives off. I’ve just witnessed a drive-by catcall of a grandmother.

In general, those caught in the act don’t want to talk about it. Over and over as I approach catcallers, they answer my questions with, “No, man, I don’t want to be in the paper.” Some express, or feign, a failure to speak English.

The exceptions are high school boys, for whom the catcall seems more a rite of spring than the creep-out come-on of the middle-aged man. On a Friday just before dinnertime, four boys from César Chávez High School are standing in front of the shops at Gallery Place.

As I reach them, a high school girl walking with a friend is yelling “that’s not my name,” in their direction.

Van Reed, a 16-year-old, says this spot is one of the best in the District for scouting girls, but he’s had better luck at Largo Town Center and in Silver Spring. “Yeah, it works,” he says. “But you’ve got to look at a girl and see how she carry herself. You try not to yell. You walk up, ask her for her phone number and keep walking with her.”

“It depends on what she looks like,” adds Daniel Smallwood, a 16-year-old in a red polo shirt and a visor turned backward. “If she’s a slut, you have to treat her like a slut. If she’s not, I say, ‘How you doing young lady?’ Everybody says ‘baby’ or ‘shorty.’ I say ‘young lady.’ ”

Smallwood and Reed are smooth, and the group is buzzing with teenage hormones. They take turns approaching girls, whipping out their cell phones, asking for numbers.

What do they expect? At worst, before night is over, they expect a few new girls programmed into their cells. At best? Well, anything is possible. What do most 16-year-old boys dream of on a Friday night? This group calls it “the long stroke.” Reed and Smallwood pantomime for my benefit—fists balled up in the classic pose beside pumping thighs.

But in the 20 minutes I watch them before they break at Potbelly Sandwich Works, the boys fail to persuade any of the dozen or so young women they approach to stop walking or give a number. But the girls don’t seem angry. They laugh, taunt, and joke with the boys. The boys are not discouraged. It’s only 5:10 p.m.

Later, I call D. Howard, the 26-year-old who runs Don’t Be Silent, a D.C. blog where women post their stories of street harassment and, sometimes, cell-phone pictures of their harassers. Howard, who did not want me to use her full name, says she is harassed on average two times a day, in every section of the city. What do they say? “They say, ‘Hey shorty, can I talk to you? Can I roll with you, sister? You’re looking good.’ ”

Howard is originally from Buffalo, N.Y. Street harassment happens there too, but not nearly as often as in D.C., she says. Howard is black, and it troubles her that the men who come on to her are almost always black as well. She blames that on rappers like Snoop Dog and 50 Cent, the bitches and hos thing. “They don’t learn how to properly treat women,” she says.

Contreras comes to mind. As much as I liked that guy, I can’t help but feel sorry for Howard when she talks about the way men treat her. “It hurts, it really does,” she says. “It takes away from your self-esteem. It’s hard to hold my head up when I deal with this on a regular basis.”

Howard often ignores the men who call out to her, but she is experimenting with other methods, including direct confrontation. She has had mixed results. Some of them back down when a furious woman yells back. “Some want to get aggressive and get in your face,” she says. “They say, ‘Fuck you, bitch, you ugly anyway.’ ”

(Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster)

Eddie Curtis, 55, is known variously as “Casper” and “Mississippi Slim.” I meet him one morning in front of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro stop after a long and fruitless search for catcallers.

Casper, unemployed and a former drug addict, is waiting for the P6 bus to a friend’s house. Tall, thin, dressed in track pants and a mint T-shirt hanging to his thighs, Casper calls out to almost every woman who passes during the 20 minutes we talk. “When they got a frown on their face, you have to think of something to take that frown away,” he says.

I ask him to show me. When a woman in her 40s with tight, long braids and a flower-print dress comes out of the subway exit, Casper shuffles toward her and leans in. “You’re looking nice, young lady,” he says and flashes a smile. “I had to do a double take.”

“Thank you,” the woman says and smiles back at him.

That’s a nice exchange; it’s a shtick that only an old man can pull off, but it’s charming. When a slightly older woman passes, Casper tries it again. “Hello there,” he says and hits the smile. “If I hadn’t got old so quick, I’d be chasing you.”

“I’m old, too,” the lady responds, chuckling.

Casper is an equal-opportunity man. He tosses “Hola, señoritas” at groups of Hispanic women. He calls out to old ones and young ones, thin ones, big ones, women hard to call pretty.

It’s because he’s not trying to pick them up, just looking to get a smile, he says. “I’m 55. I’ve had all the pants I need. I’m speaking to them because they are God’s creations,” he says.

And maybe the women are faking it—smiling because that’s easier than going on a rant—but almost every woman who passes smiles back at Casper. If they don’t at first, if they try to ignore him, Casper troops on, gives them a “Smile a little bit” or a “Let’s see a little smile” or some variation. Then he lights up his own grin.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about,” he says when he succeeds, as if he’s just seen the best thing in the world.

Casper may be an exception, more of a compliment man than a dirty uncle, but even the “show me a smile” guys have their detractors. After Curtis catches his bus, I run into 24-year-old Shonda Tish. She says men have been approaching her with that mess since she was 13. “A lot of it was from older men, too,” she says. “And when I was 13, I looked 13.”

As far as Tish is concerned, the compliment men like Casper are the flip side of the “Let me roll with you” crowd. Yelling from the street corner isn’t the way to approach a lady, regardless of the message, she says. “Sometimes people have a bad day,” she says. They shouldn’t have to offer up a smile on demand, just because some old skinny guy without a job says, ‘Smile, things aren’t so bad.’ ”

“A guy did that to me on the day my dad got killed,” she says.

After a week of wandering, I have yet to witness a man bring in a woman with a callout, but I’ve met many women sick of them trying. I’ve heard there are women who enjoy being catcalled, but I haven’t met any who admit it. Still, I wonder how it would feel to toss out compliments to women from the street corner.

Around lunchtime, I walk to Mexican Pepito’s Bakery, where Contreras ogled and catcalled Klinger a week before. I pay for a piece of strawberry cheesecake and take a seat on a tall chair outside.

Several attractive women pass before I get up my nerve. When she approaches, I notice her first reflected in the open restaurant door. I turn and watch—about 10 years younger than me, jeans lynched with a silver heart-shaped belt, tight brown T-shirt with hershey’s printed on the front. As she gets closer, I catch the red nail polish on her toes. I take a breath.

“Hey, baby. You look nice today,” I shout. Now that it’s out, it doesn’t feel half as strange as I thought it would.

A second passes before she registers that the voice is meant for her. Then she turns and looks at me, screws her face into a confused snarl. I smile. She turns away, keeps walking, doesn’t look back.

I’m surprised at how bad that feels. Despite what I had seen, all the women I had talked to, I thought maybe it would work.

I pick at my cheesecake and wait for another chance. Soon, a middle-aged woman in a light dress the color of tangerines approaches. I decide to try the Casper Method: Throw the older lady a compliment, maybe come up with a “Thank you” and a smile.

“Hi. You look beautiful. Let’s see a smile,” I say, a bit softer than before.

The woman looks at me with a look of incomprehension, the face people give when they don’t speak your language.

“Smile,” I say and give her a grin. She doesn’t. She turns away and is gone. Soon a fat man sits down next to me with a taco. My cheesecake is gone, and I’m through swinging for the fences.

VIDEO: Catcallers and the Women They Call

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Our Readers Say

My husband and I were just talking about this. He doesn't understand how horrible it makes me feel when these men invade my personal space. And I have to walk past them every day to get to the metro. They don't speak when he is with me, but when I am alone there they go again!

He says "You can't control what men do." He doesn't understand why I get so upset. What's a lady to do?
Oddly enough, catcalling did work out for me once, though I wasn't the cat-caller. I met a couple of very nice young ladies who asked me to escort them home because a man in a slow moving black SUV was yelling out the window at them.

As an aside, if I remember my TLC correctly, the fellow hanging out the side of his friend's ride, trying to holler at them was the textbook definition of a scrub.
I found this an incredibly entertaining article to read. My personal feeling is that catcalls do NOT work, although saying nothing is a lot less effective. As far as how women feel, if you offer a compliment (not objectificaton) but a sincere compliment, and she's offended, she's just a bitch, 9 out of 10 times.
"Hot Ass" was humorous and disturbing at the same time, and begs a simple question: what ever happened to the virtue of MANNERS?
Women are human beings, not a commodity, not objects, and not without hearts and souls (though some, just like men, can be very cruel). It's only natural that a woman does not want to be shouted out to, "hissed" at (as the article points out), or find herself walking along a city street on the way to work only to end up with a smelly total stranger in her face making an unwanted sexual comment. If a guy did that to my sister, he'd learn what a bloody nose feels like.
Nor does a woman want to be part of a "collection", to be oggled, mistreated, or abused. Unwanted sexual remarks only degrade and humiliate, and the guys described in "Hot Ass", and others in DC, need to realize it.
I hear girls talking about being the 'object' of catcalls and, often, they seem somewhat mystified by their "power" to attract such attention. And then, of course, they get even more attention when they get to complain about it to others . . .
First I would like to say this was one great article, not only that the title "Nice Ass" I'm bout to lose my nice job, lol...I personal don't think catcalling is a problem, I believe that it becomes one once a person gets disrespectful. You can possibly pickup a nice female aslo from catcalling, but you have to creative with it. Women like men that have a creative side. Try doing something different instead of just noticing her nice ass, hips, legs or what she is wearing. Honestly dudes them same tried ass pick up lines ARE NOT WORKING!!! Women really get tried of hearing the same BS all day. Trust me! And if you do pickup a female shouting out a catcall, well that all depends on the female, such as her current status and if not maybe be just don't have time to be dealing with anyone. Some dude are just plain out disrespectful. The question then is, How would you feeling someone tried to talk to your sister, daughter, or even mother and call her outside of her name? After they have been "Shot Down" thats what I call it. Definition: "Shot Down" meaning like rejection from a female when trying to talk with her. Most men fear it, the rest gain more confidence.

"You must respect yourself in order to gain respect" that how i feel about it. Now if your thinking your going to pickup a nice women shouting out at them. Then you're only entertaining yourself or the person/people accomanying you. I can go on forever and talk about this because I see crazy catcalls on a regular basics. How I see it is that an ass is an ass, all women have one, but its what's inside that really counts. If I was to see a nicely figured women then I'll say under my breath like "Dayum! she's phat" but i'll never say it so that she can hear me. Every line is always different because females are not alike.

Nine times out of ten she know she looks good when she gets dress in the morning and that she have alot junk in the trunk already so I figure she wouldn't want to her something about how nice her ass is. That will just be irrelevant. But when it comes to making a female smile, a nice comment isn't so bad as long as its not disrespect or down out LAME!!!, and if she doesn't give you a response then so be it. Believe me she's takin it inconsideration.
K. Klinger sounds like a total bitch. Catcalling/piropos are a vulgarity no doubt, but as long as they don't involve overt sexual comments, they are and should be ignored. Is your life so meaningless K.K. that you have to make catcalling an issue in your life?
Man this happens to me all the time from the ladies. I too suffer. Its hard being so damn mantastic and just trying to get through my mfing day without all these women catcalling me.

It is ytough to keep my head up, but somehow, I find a way.
Guys, can you imagine being expected to be cheery no matter how you feel, whether you're sick, tired, angry, worried or sad? And then getting called a "dick" because you don't smile on command for random strangers? How about being expected to welcome sexual advances from women who repulse you -- and getting cursed out for saying no?

Walking to the store in Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Hts. can be like running a gauntlet. It's exhausting trying to decide who's friendly and who's a slimeball, am I safe or not, which side of the street will be better, and so on. Why is it too much to ask to go buy milk in peace?

Those "compliments" feel like I'm being groped. Even "hello" feels gross when said with a leer. Harrassment isn't about making a woman feel good, it's about the harrasser enjoying the attention and the sense of control.

I started getting harrassed as a particularly young looking sixth grader. I went from enjoying playing outside to thinking twice about walking to the ice cream store. At that age, I learned that my body was no longer really my own, but there for men to look at, talk about, and touch, all without my permission.

Just got a new camera phone. Maybe we women need to make a public art exhibit. Oh wait, that would be unwanted attention for those men ...

(HB - Time your husband started respecting your feelings. He doesn't need to understand the problem to accept how you feel about it!)
this is a blog i wrote when i lived in columbia heights. gas station is at Clifton & 14th:

day in the life around my way

it's pouring rain on sunday. the streets are deserted. i walk into a gas station for a red bull. it's full of men. packed with men. men sitting on counters. men crowding around windows. two men start touching my hair. someone else is asking if he knows me. i leave the gas station and go back into the rain. a man named bear follows me out and says he wants to take me to the movies. he's missing 3 front teeth. he's wearing a shirt that says "why are all of these kids calling me dad?" goodbye bear. maybe another day.

-end blog-

i went to that gas station to get some fuel for the long night of physics problem sets i had ahead of me. i'm pretty sure the men that were interating with me don't even know what physics is. i don't really think the cat-calling (or cat-touching) is a phenomena that can be linked to men in general. it is a cultural thing. these are men of a culture of leisure, hanging out on the street with nothing to do. they view women as play-things--part of their leisure lifestyle. they don't seem to realize that i've forgotten completely that i have an ass and have other things on my mind at the moment--namely, differential equations. i think to myself, 'who is looking out for these men? i could tempt one of them and lead him to the edge of a cliff if i wanted to. it's pathetic. why would i want even a momentary relationship with one of these empty-headed people controlled completely by their own sexual desires.'

i've known these men since i was 11 years old, when i got a tiny set of tits for the first time. it's no culture shock to me. and in dc, i get the cat-calls a couple times a day, just like the girls in the article. it seems like these guys go after girl-next-door kinds of girls with "a body," as opposed to leggy, posied and polished, super-model-esque types. i should know. there's nothing "super-model hot" about me. maybe it's because the cat-callers are going after people they think they can get??

someone commented that a girl is "just a bitch" if she is offended by a nice compliment. i disagree. we are savvy enough to know that these men are hanging the same compliments around the necks of everyone, from the sexiest young thing to the most grizzled old dog. so why should we appreciate the fact that our very important internal problem-solving has been interrupted by a man's false flattery, which barely conceals his random, unwieldy sexual impulse? besides, i have offered a compliment to a guy i found attractive or whose style i liked and have been met with a cold stare. the guy was reading or he was busy or had a girlfriend. i don't expect him to stop dead in his tracks to receive my compliment with a smile or to become my play-thing.

so why do certain types of men expect that of me?
I kind of think that by walking down the street, by being in public, I am somehow defined as slut or prostitute. Street harassment is about haters keeping women down more than anything. I've being called racist things and getting catcalled feels the same way. I'm attacked for who I am. Except, I hardly ever called called racist things and I get catcalled on a daily basis.

If catcallers think they are be sweet and complimentary or that they will get a date, they are totally delusional. They are interested in controlling women. I am tired of feeling ashamed just because I am not home, barefoot and pregnant or wearing a burka everywhere.

Would catcallers still do it if they realized 90% (or more) of women find it either annoying, mean, hateful or disgusting? They must know this. They are doing it to keep women down, plain and simple.

The fact that the writer could not get many of these catcallers to be interviewed shows they they know it is disgusting, mean and hateful. They are ashamed, as they should be.

As angry as I am, I am a working woman and I have to leave the house now and then. To maintain my sanity, I am never without my iPod.
As a fairly attractive woman, if I leave my house I would say that on any given day I am approached, catcalled or demanded to smile at least 10 times daily and believe it or not that is a very modest number because it can happen far more often given the day. I dress fairly modestly and I carry myself as a lady would. I find it insulting, offensive, degrading and down right demoralizing and no, I don’t smile on command or even acknowledge the offenders presence. I am often called names, insulted, and followed then heckled by the stranger because of this. What I don’t understand is how these men (using the term loosely) feel as if they have some right to my time and/or attention. Why are men permitted to go on about their daily business and not be obligated to smile or chat every ½ block that they walk? Why is it that because I am a woman I am expected to entertain every random Tom, Dick and Harry on the street corner whether I’m in a hurry or not that says, “can I get a smile?” or “you can’t speak?” It is outrageous that these people take offense to being ignored. They’re luck I don’t say want I want to say. I don’t want to hear how sexy you think I am. I don’t want to hear how fat you think my ass is. That behavior is despicable and if the catcaller had any level of common decency and really was not aiming to be offensive it might occur to them the message that is sent to woman that deal with this repeatedly day in and day out from the moment you develop– all you are is a walking vagina. That’s all you’re good for. And all I have to say to these men is that if it is not your intended message then leave please stop because that’s what we hear and the only people who respond positively to you are the people whose self esteem has already been severely damaged!
I just wanted to reply to "Marc" because I think a lot of people may have that view. Often the reason a woman acts like a "bitch" towards a genuine compliment is because the moment a male stranger approaches us or starts to talk to us, our defenses go up from all of the other countless times that we have been harrassed (and ALL women get harrassed- you can count on it). If you want to point the finger at people for being "bitchy" towards a genuine compliment, point it at all the gross guys out there who ruin it for the good ones.
Thank you for writing this important article. I would tell my husband stories of street harassment and he would only partially believe me. Especially, because I usually dress frumpy - long skirt and shirts that cover up to the neck. But now I know that it doesn't matter what one wears, as long as the person is female they will be a potential target for some men.

Harassers are trying for an anonymous power play, without any kind of recourse. One morning, walking to the metro, I had one person literally stick his tongue out like I was a first cut steak and he hadn't eaten in weeks - ick! and scary. I changed my work schedule and now avoid the people who were out at certain times of the morning.

I found it interesting that giving them a dirty look made them feel bad as well, because it put some of that power back into my hands. It would have been more helpful to find out what would make them stop from harassing people.
meow meow
It seems to me that women are offended/disgusted by catcalls only when they come from men they don't want to fuck. Most women are smart enough to ignore catcalling assholes. For those who feel victimized, objectified, villified, degraded, etc., fuck you! Get over yourself! If you feel so worthless that a catcall is going to cause you irreparable harm, catcalling is not your problem. Get a boyfriend/girlfriend, get rid of your cats, get a life, love yourself. Next time you're called sexy you'll believe it and move on. Until then, you really are just a depressed, wlaking vagina.
1) Thank goodness we have a rational, objective man to confirm what women have been saying for years... nay, centuries. So it's really true? Women are really harassed? Even those of us who are not "supermodel hot?" And we really don't like it? Really? Well, I never! *clutches pearls*

2) Misogyny and general piggishness is not exclusive to men of any one "culture," although men of different cultures may express it differently.

3) To the usual commenters, I wouldn't know if the men who harass me are "fvckable." I don't even give street harassers (and even misguided and intrusive, if polite, street lotharios) the courtesy of eye contact.
mm: as other posters have noted, catcalling happens to almost all women, regardless of their objective "sexiness" or how they're dressed. So, rest assured, when women that you know complain about getting catcalled, it is not some sort of backhanded, self-congratulatory "power" or "attractiveness" thing. It's probably because they are pissed and annoyed. As far as I can tell, all it takes to get catcalled in DC is a vagina, and maybe not even that.

Uy: 90% of the time, catcalls ARE overtly sexual. Even if they aren't, the sexual message/desire is implicit. Are we to believe that these comments express a purely aesthetic, platonic appreciation of our feminine beauty? That the catcaller would simply like an opportunity to paint our portraits? Come on.

Ggg: I fear that this is one of those things that you just are never going to understand--kind of the way I don't truly understand the pain of being kicked in the balls. How about I refrain from kicking you in the balls, and you just trust me when I say that self-confident, happy women in positive relationships can and do get offended and threatened by catcalls.
I've noticed that two of the most popular topics on blogs and other online article discussion are the following:

Street Harrasment of Women
Disgust in Women's Attire (Specifically Flip Flops)

People are so vocal about how women should not wear flip flops to work or on DC's streets. Bloggers and commenters constantly complain that women in DC do not dress stylish enough. Has anyone else seen this trend?

With street harrassment the way it is around here, i don't give a shit what i look like when i go out anymore -- the nicer i dress the more harrassment i'm going to receive.
Street calling is basically about lack of respect. I wonder if these men imagine how the women in thier families feel about being told to smile, to give up their number or at worst insulted because they choose not to respond.

Sure it might "seem" harmless. But it isn't. Its objectification covered up as compliments and being sociable.

Even if a few women don't mind, the vast majority of women just want to walk around town without having to worry that not reacting the right way to a comment wont end up with being called something nasty or possibly worst.
Anonymous Says:
May. 10, 2006, at 10:02 am
I’m a woman who has lived in the District for 13+ years and I guess my question/comment is, why can’t you just ignore these people? It’s really not that difficult to simply keep on walking.
————————-

Let me start off with this.

I look like a black betty boop. Because I know this I don’t wear tight clothes, they are the appropriate lenghth and demonstrates no cleavage. Because people think of sex when they see me–they somehow think I am thinking the same.

In a short walk from my office downtown to where I park my car, I can have cars pull up next to me (which I find an aggressive act), someone walk with me (an equally agressive act) or every stupid “polite” comment tossed at me. And somehow –I am suppose to be sweet because –you feel I cannot see this as having an agenda. There is a see of people who just past but you are only saying hi–to me.

Additionally there is no concern for context. You could be with your boss, with your family and they do not care. If you do not response–the catcalling can become downright verbally and in some rare occasions physically abusive.

And you comment 3–see nothing wrong with this. At the very least it is disrespectful.

And no guys looks attractive making a bafoon of himself in this way so attraction is the dumbest argument. Dean Cain or the Rock would look like maronic assholes if they suddenly role down their window and yelled “you got a man”
In response to Michelle's point that Eaton's authoritative and "legitimate" position as a male journalist validates women's discomfort: this is a great point! On the other hand, as we've seen in the comments, it's something that a lot of men don't even notice, let alone attempt to understand. There are so-called "sensitive" men out there who just don't get it.

Galey Modan's recently published work on Mount Pleasant discusses the issue of culture/ethnicity and street harassment. She interviewed women of color who publicly-- in front of white middle class people-- defended street harassment as a cultural expression, but behind closed doors complained about it as an annoyance or an act of oppression. We might want to consider the complexities of perspectives and experiences when it comes to catcalling-- it goes beyond sexual desire and cultural difference.
My mother, sister, nieces, etc. have all been subjected to catcalls. How do they deal with it? By laughing and/or pitying the catcaller. It is rather sad I think. On the other hand, when the catcall is rude/vulgar feel free, as the women in my family do, to tell the catcaller to go fuck himself. Once my mother, a senior citizen, walked past a man who muttered outloud "Umm! that's what I need, a vieja sabrosa." My mother turned around, smiled, and non-chalantly told him "I suggest you go proposition your mother." By the way, I think catcallers are generally insecure men with nothing much going on in their lives, don't give them the satisfaction of showing emotion when they speak to you.
I just want to clarify that when I said "culture" in my earlier post, I did not mean ethnically, racially, or even geographically or economically based culture.

I meant a culture of idle leisure. Believe me, men of all colors, languages, salaries and familial backgrounds share this culture. Plenty of middle class males are attracted to street corner nonsense.

To ggg,
I don't care if you look like Pharrell, if you approach me on the street and interrupt my thoughts with some BS, I probably won't even look at you, let alone think of f*cking you. Successful men will lose too. Snoop catcalled my friend in LA, talking about "baby girl, baby girl," expecting her to get in his car. She just turned up her nose and kept walking. Hollering at women just makes you ugly.
Nice article. One point I wish had been made is that Street Harassment is used as a tool for men to impress other men. Many times it's enacted as a male bonding rite of passage, which men learn from each other, despite most women thinking the behavior is distasteful and, sometimes, scary. I believe that this show (when it's performed in a group) many times has more to do with men pleasing other men than it does with trying to pick up women. I wonder if men see the homoeroticism in this kind of behavior.
"As far as how women feel, if you offer a compliment (not objectificaton) but a sincere compliment, and she's offended, she's just a bitch, 9 out of 10 times."

Way to make it all about you! If you get that reaction a lot--you're doing it wrong. You may think it's "sincere" but it probably comes off as creepy, if women are offended. Why don't you just leave them alone? Who are you to decide what a woman should and shouldn't be offended by?
As a professional black male from the DC area, I find many truths in Mr. Eaton's article (as well as Ms. Klingler's and her log). However, allow me a rebuttal, with the premise that I am not a catcaller. Due to my shyness as a kid I've always been (sadly) the starer, one who will just look at a woman in hopes of making eye contact....so I can then (hopefully) say something intelligent to maintain her attention. Problem is, I do not wear a $500 suit to work every day and I drive a Toyota Camry. Point being, even though I consider myself attractive, in shape and intelligent, I (seemingly) do not have what it takes to "grab" the attention of the opposite sex. So my only options are to continue to spend quiet nights at home alone, or attempt to strike up a conversation and risk the "Fuck Yous". And let it be said, while many women hate the "Hey baby" and "Hola mami", it seems just as easy for many to ignore "Excuse me may I chat with you a moment" just the same.
People, pls just chill out! You all just sound like defenseless little girls who cannot handle even a slight sexual compliment. Enough hypocrisy americans! Just travel a bit and try to see the world abroad... there's nothing wrong in guys hitting on girls whenever they seem good looking or attract some attention.One cant drink, dance, and now even stare is not allowed! What else will be prohibited in this country? Enough of this harassment crap! Grow up and just admit you love all the atention!
Lady in Red, you don't seem to understand what is happening, so I'm going to use very small words.

Yelling makes women feel unsafe in public.
People threaten women.
This is bad.
Catcalling is something that assholes, lowlifes, and vulgar losers do. (ggg, you're includes in that trio). I don't want to hear any nonsense about cultural relativity, because that's not an excuse for harassing and intimidating women -- doesn't matter if it's common is another culture.

One thing you women should not do is give a catcaller the finger or otherwise insult him. Self Defense 101 means avoiding fights, not instigating them. A lowlife who will catcall you and consider you a "bitch" if you ignore him may attack you if you insult him. It's not worth it. Ignore them and keep on walking.

Note to Kerry: I understand what you're saying, but the point is that aside from prostitutes, no woman walks down the street hoping to get into a romantic/sexual relationship with a guy. You're right that a polite introduction is good, and you don't need to be Mr. Suave with a really clever line, but you ought to use either approach in a place where women probably are going to look for a guy, like bars and nightclubs. Those, unlike streets, are traditional and commonly understood pick-up joints. Or, go the slower but more rewarding route of meeting someone you like at work or the gym or in a group, etc.

Final thought: does anyone doubt that a young lowlife catcaller will still be a lowlife in 10, 20, 30 years, or more?
I will never understand why guys do this. I, myself, smile and nod sometimes when I catch someone's eye on the street and it's a beautiful day, but I do this less and less because I don't want to deal with guys following me around or hassling me. Why guys (and I haven't actually seen a woman in any of these behaviors) feel it necessary that women smile all the time or that we LIKE being approached by total strangers who then take offense if not acknowledged, I'll never know. At 4:30 IN THE MORNING last week, walking on my way to work, some guy slows down and stops beside me and screams "SMILE!" out the passenger window and speeds off. I guess I offended him by not wandering around in the dark with a big grin on my face? For those who don't understand that this stuff is kind of scary and get offended we think they are creeps, I have a question. How am I supposed to distinguish you from the men who are actually a threat when your approaches are the same? I have had guys whisper what they wanted to do to me standing in line in the bank, grab my hand out of the shadows near my apartment, and an awful lot of strangers whose first question is: "Are you married?" while I'm standing there minding my own business. Smiling and nodding or saying "Hello" is a fine way to greet a stranger in passing. Yelling things at people, particularly when you are in a group or in a car and they are alone, is creepy. And, I suppose it is your right to ask for a phone number, but it is every much our right to say no without you hassling us about it.
I think its disgusting especially those nasty little mexicans who stare at u with there beatty little eyes. Get a life better yet a clue to all those losers that have nothing better to doooooooooooooooo
I find it hilarious that there is always discussion about men's attempts to pick up women and how the cheap lines, catcalls or whatever approach men use get dogged all of the time. First, men have been pursuing women like this since the beginning of time. Is it objectification? Yes it is. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not really. I mean, when you first see someone you think is attractive, all you have to go on is what the person looks like. You can't really "not objectify" someone until you talk to them and get to know them as a person. Then, you have a relationship not based on how the person looks, but who they are. That's pretty much how men and women have been hooking up forever and women do it just as much as men. Men are more aggressive about it, yes. But that's also been a stereotypical role for men, having to pursue.

Saying all of this, I do not think it's right when men get too vulgar, aggressive or invade a woman's personal space. But, telling a woman that she looks good is as acceptable a way of meeting a woman as going up to them in a bar. What's the big difference? The opening line, no matter how stupid or catcallish as it is, is usually just a means to get a response and start a conversation.

The funny thing is, most women always dog their man's approach. They'll say something like: "John came up to me and said blah blah blah. It was so lame". But there they are, sitting next to John 8 years later. His game must not have been that bad, because it worked on her! Men are always trying. It doesn't make it disrespectful or bad.
I absolutely hate being catcalled, and find it vulgar, rude, and threatening.

While we're talking about cultural differences, maybe these Hispanic men should learn that this is not behavior exhibited by middle class white men toward middle class white women on the street unless their intentions toward the woman are very bad.

They may not be bad guys, but to me (a middle class blonde white woman), they're acting like a bad guy and are going to get treated like a potential threat.

I've been getting this crap since I was 12 years old and it's downright scary to have a man older than your father following you and making kissing noises on the street, or shouting filthy words at you.

Be more senistive to MY culture, and cut that shit out.
To George Cook:

The issue is not that men find women attractive. Objectifying a woman is not the only possible mode of communication. For instance, in an appropriate setting, a man could ask a woman their name, or their thoughts on a current events topic, or whether they like the song playing--or introduce yourself: "I'm so and so, and I do xyz/hate awkward conversation/just ran a marathon." THE POINT? Conversation does NOT need to start out sexual. And my guess is most women will want to engage you on an intellectual level to be attracted to you. Do you think she's sexy and vice versa? Maybe, but do you walk up to every woman and tell her you want to fuck her? That's all she hears when you inject sex into the opening line. My point is that you posited the only way to approach a woman is to remind her she is a sexual plaything and that is ALL you are interested in.

I used to live in Mount Pleasant, but have been catcalled here in MN since I was little, and in D.C. I really noticed it though, on a recent vacation to D.C. where I was catcalled at at least once a day. What men don't seem to understand is, when I am walking down the street, I am on a mission-- to the grocery store; to the gym; to a museum, etc. I do NOT need to be reminded I have a vagina on that journey. I am more than a vagina. If I'm not feeling particularly attractive or sexual, I don't need to be made to feel that my purpose for being on the street is to provide a man with an erection.

One explanation? Men have been raised to control women. This behavior is inappropriate, disrespectful, scary, harassing, and dirty. I don't understand why there isn't a public health campaign to get rid of this behavior. Men and women were taught "no means no" in school. Now maybe we need to teach young boys how to talk to a young lady.

Oh-- and the "SMILE!!!" thing??? Drives me fucking crazy. I get told to smile multiple times in a week. Guess what? I can smile when I feel like smiling. I am capable of manipulating the muscles in my mouth to produce a facial expression representing joy. I don't need your asisstance on the street. You are not making my day when you tell me to smile. You are just another man who thinks he can control my emotions on command. It's so infantile. Too bad it's endemic.
any man who says that women should suck this up or stop complaining should spend a week in my sister's shoes. i have no idea how i'd handle walking around our neighborhood with people constantly (and i mean constantly... possibly every block) leering, invading her personal space, or being extremely vulgar. it would seriously drive me insane. you cant dispell something that you cant experience. and it's not like it's once in a while.

if you assume people just like attention then you're generalizing and you're an idiot. there's many people on this planet who actually dont like to be stared at, yelled at out of car windows or grabbed by strangers. the point about these articles arent the occasional compliment or even the slightly inappropriate ones. it's really about the ones that involve borderline stalking, invasion of personal space and vulgar rude language. you don't think there are crazies out there who cross the line? then you're not aware of your own environment.

anyone who says that it's a cultural difference or that we should 'travel the world' and experience that this is a normal thing in other cultures.... i offer you this:
when i do travel the world i respect that culture's social constructs. if i was told that the culture there considers it rude to open doors for women. I WOULDNT DO IT. and i sure wouldnt use my culture as an excuse to do things that are unacceptable. i would consider that rude to their culture. i expect the same from people who come to my culture. to respect the way we are. as we are also a place for people to travel to.

and finally... i'm a nice guy. i am a smart guy. i can talk to women, sometimes even if they're strangers - without being skeevy. however, these other catcalling, vulgar spouting, sleezy rude individuals have ruined it for those of us who arent like that, cause when we want to approach someone either we're too self conscious about coming off like these jerks. or even worse, we get up the courage and the woman wont give us the chance due to some one else being a complete scumbag.

thanks ... way to make it complicated and screw it up for the rest of us.
I’ve lived in DC for nearly a decade, but I spent the first 18 years of my life in New York. Harassment in New York was pretty bad; I could have kept a log of it and it would have looked very similar to the one Klinger published in the City Paper.

However, I noticed that when I relocated to DC, the harassment declined severely. I still get the occasional catcall, but it’s not nearly as relentless as it was in NY. I wasn’t sure of the reason for this. When I’d only been living here a few months, I thought it was because DC was just a different kind of place – more polite, perhaps due to its Southern-ness. But over time, as I befriended other women here who assured me that harassment existed here just as much as it did in NY, that theory was shot down.

Now I can only assume that it was some sort of change in the way I carried myself that made would-be catcallers think twice before making me their next victim, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I don’t smile or make eye contact, but then again I never really did, and in NY I was told on an almost daily basis “lemme see a smile sweetie” or something similar. The one thing that I did change was my anticipation of the catcalls and my reaction to them; when I was younger I’d often hang my head in embarrassment after being catcalled, but now I tend to just shout over my shoulder “Thanks!” and then keep walking with my head held high. (I’ve found that saying “Thanks” is a great weapon; you can’t be accused of being a “bitch”, since you’ve acknowledged them, and politely). But I can’t be sure that this is the reason either. All I can say is I’m really, truly grateful that I’ve developed whatever skills I’ve developed that deflect this sort of attention, and if I ever pinpoint those skills, I’ll happily share them with other women.
Why should a woman have to smile for a man? Why shouldn't a man have to be quiet and respectful if a woman wants it? I like my men quiet! Why shouldn't I get to walk around the city shutting them up the way they get to catcall me? What a bunch of jerks!
i'm a 31 year old hispanic woman, and it it doesn't piss me off any less when i get catcalled from some strange man expecting me to show flattery for his efforts. the fact that understand it in both languages just frustrates me more. it makes my skin crawl and my blood boil.
Us women should just give guys the finger if they catcall to us.

Maybe then they'll stop being so self-centered and realize that we hate it, that it's digusting to even fathom what's on their minds. It's not a compliment, it's gross and creepy.

Just because some guys feel they want to have sex with everything that moves does NOT mean that women feel the same way, or that we should accept being thought of as sex objects.

Someone should let them know! Let's create a movement! Give them the finger!
The only negative I can think of would be that any emo male that would have observed or finally muster up strength to talk to a cute girl or make any eye contact will now curl up into a ball in a corner for another ten years. My only advice would be to keep this article from sensative single males.
How many of these women complaining actually go up to guys they like? I bet it's in the 5% range. Until that changes, guys are always going to be the jerks coming up them. Except for prince-charming on his white horse of course.
well said august. everything i wanted to say.

all the idiots justifying it need to picture their mum, sister, wife or girlfriend on the receiving end of those catcalls and see how they like it.
To JB, again, sadly, you're missing the point. Women are being catcalled from cars, on the street, and in totally inappropriate places when they are minding their own business. If you really think you're being blocked from picking up women by other women speaking out against these harassing practices, then I am sorry for you. If you really think walking up to a woman, getting in her personal space, only to tell her something about a part of her body is the only way to "meet women" then you're starting from square negative 10.

It's super interesting that most of the comments by men are either suggesting that women are bitches because they don't appreciate these advances, or that these men are ruining it for the good guys.

Let's change the conversation altogether-- telling a stranger something sexual about their bodies is NEVER okay. Can we agree on that? If you can't figure out another way to communicate with a woman, ask you mother or your sister or your grandmother.
fuck you, ggg. i AM sexy, happy, and have a boyfriend. the reason i get pissed off whenever someone catcalls me is because they think they have the RIGHT to objectify me, like i am only there for their pleasure. FUCK YOU AND FUCK THEM. i've been getting catcalls since the age of 12. TWELVE YEARS OLD. i was a late bloomer, too. if you are defending these perverts, you're a scumbag. period.
The City Paper missed an important opportunity to create constructive dialogue around the pervasive street harassment occurring in Washington, DC in its June 22nd cover feature, “Nice Ass.”

While the topic of street harassment is one of vital importance, it is unfortunate that the City Paper chose to trivialize the issue by turning it into an anthropological joke. Street harassment is not a nuisance; it is a form of violence against women. The City Paper often writes from the perspective of men and infuses its articles with racist and sexist stereotypes. This article is no different.

Joe Eaton begins the article by questioning the frequency and severity of street harassment, discounting the experiences that he acknowledges many woman have shared with him. He defines harassment as something natural to men of color, referring to harassment as “part of Hispanic culture.” Men of all races engage in street harassment. Any woman who goes to Adams Morgan or Georgetown on a weekend – no matter what she wears or how she looks - will most likely get ogled and verbally or physically assaulted.

Further, his decision to harass women as an exercise in journalistic method acting is offensive. Did the writer even consider the feelings of the women he chose to harass? Did he consider how it would affect the rest of their day? He interviewed several women who told him how street harassment affected their mental and physical health, yet he chose to inflict that violence on others.

Lastly, we cannot help but question the amount of research done for this article. DC is nationally recognized for its rich history of 30 years of anti-street harassment activism, especially by women of color. It’s unfortunate those voices were only superficially included in the article.

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Washington DC Chapter
incitedc@yahoo.com
I'm not saying anything new, but I've been getting catcalls since around age 11, when I was about 4'10" and 85 lbs, and I just didn't have the ability to handle it emotionally -- what are you supposed to think when you're a child, and suddenly adult men are doing that stuff? I moved to DC a year ago, and it hasn't been terrible, but I do notice that walking down 14th street around U or Columbia Heights, I get leered at quite a bit, and if I'm wearing something revealing, men step in front of me, catcall, try to start conversations. But I was in jeans and a tee-shirt last week on 14th, and not only was I getting leered at, but some teenage guy actually touched me as he was walking by. I yelled at him, but there wasn't a lot else I could do.

It really is this issue of the publicness of womens' bodies: when you try to talk to us on the street, it's like you think we're public property. If you're male, you don't know what it's like to walk down the street at any hour of the day and feel like you're surrounded by people who have so little respect for your boundaries that you feel like they would rape you if they could just get away with it.

The other fun thing I've had is: when you're the only woman of your particular race in an area, and you're young, it doesn't matter what you're wearing: people think you're a prostitute. I've been in jeans and sweatshirts and no makeup and had men try to solicit me. That's a joy, too.

What I don't mind, honestly, is older men (say, 60+) smiling at me and saying things like "you look beautiful," or, "have a great day" as I'm walking down the street. I don't read that as threatening or sexual, although maybe I ought to. But, regardless, they're not getting my phone number, or anything more extended than "thank you, have a nice day." The idea that you're going to get any woman's contact info by coming up to her on the street -- and that, if you don't, she must be racist or classist or just a bitch -- is completely ridiculous. You don't know what my sexual orientation is, you don't know what my relationship status is, for all you know I'm a married lesbian nun. Even if I do like men and I'm not in a relationship, do you really think I'm going after men who call "mami" to me as I'm trying to get my groceries home?
Thank you INCITE DC for calling out Joe Eaton on this ridiculously offensive article. Not only did he engage in this harassing behavior himself, he also managed to make blanket statments about Hispanic culture, and ignore the fact that it's not just annoying to be harassed - it's unsafe. He glossed over this fundamental issue of safety in public spaces; a safety that is unfortunately not guaranteed for women in American culture. Street harassment is not an issue confined to Hispanic men or homeless guys hanging on street corners. Suits on K street do it. A Sikh cab driver asked me out a few months ago. My friend got flashed by a hipster in Columbia Heights the other day. Writing fluff pieces about "discovering" the prevalence of street harassment isn't going to change anything. Men, take some frickin resposibility for yourselves and do something about this. If you harass women, stop it. If you see someone else doing so, tell them to stop it. Jeez.
I think this article was pretty funny. Im a young Hispanic woman and I am not offended that he targeted the Hispanic culture. I think its true. The majority of men I see catcalling are Hispanic men. If they do it from afar, I dont mind, but if they get too close to me I do get scared. I try to avoid construction sites or cross the street if Im walking by gardeners. I hate saying that about my people, I love my culture, but I have to call it like it is. I think there has only been one instance when a man said "Hey baby, you got some big ol' tities." It was horrible! I almost started crying and I felt dirty. This was not done by a Hispanic man, I have never been insulted like that by a Hispanic man.
INCITE DC, I hope you sent your comment as a Letter to the Editor, so it has a chance of being published in the print edition of the CP and having greater reach.
I absolutely HATE catcalls! I'm a plain Jane and get harrassed constantly, even when I'm with my kids. My patience for the catcalls has run out. When I was younger I would flash a fake smile or do the "I'm deaf" act. Those become misinterpreted into Harrass me even more. So now my reaction is taylored to the catcaller. If he's older I chastise him and tell him that he's to old to be acting so childish and that he should have a better way to pick up women. If he's grown but not old he gets the evil glare. Teenage boys get the "I'm too old for you, good luck on your chick hunt"

The funny thing about cat calling is that when I do it, its fun. My girls and I cruise the streets and look for good male candidates. Its fun getting a rise out of them.

(Double standard I know)
Catcalling can run the gambit from obnoxious to scary to vaguely amusing. I don't see any of the girls on here arguing it should be illegal, just that its disgusting. People who are getting really defensive and saying that being constantly berated by skeevy people shouldn't bother me miss the point that I shouldn't have to be constantly berated by skeevy men. Of course I live in reality and I've never let the obnoxious pervs dicate where I go or when and, no, they don't cause serious distress. Something doesn't need to be seriously upsetting to be wrong.

My favorite catcalling experience was when I was pushing my three year old daughter in a stroller in Denver, CO and a man cut me off to invite me to come upstaiurs to do drugs and f*ck him. For about two minutes he would not let me push the stroller around him although his tone remained pleasant. My daughter was terrified and I ended up having to move the stroller into traffic to avoid him.

No, this didn't cause any real damage to me or my child, but the guy is still a total sacumbag for harassing a young mom and making a kid cry because.. what.. he was horny and I was walking by.
The phrase "misery loves company" comes to mind--

The pathetic men who sit (or drive) and call out to women probably (on some level) realize within themselves that they have nothing to offer a woman EXCEPT, of course, their "witty" ability to turn a phrase...these men have no problem making women feel as low and disrespected as possible...it's how they feel about themselves!
I, like many other woman, have been getting harassed on the streets here in DC since I was very young, 12 years old to be exact.
When I was 14 I was waiting at a bus stop and a man slowed down his car when he drove by me. He circled around a few times and then parked. He walked over and proceeded to tell me how sexy I looked, stare me up and down, and then say he could be my boyfriend. He had to be at LEAST in his 30s. And my chest was completely flat, 5'1 and 90 pounds. He said he would take to me the mall and buy me everything I wanted. And kept talking to me until the bus came.
I don't understand why men do this fucking KIDS.

I'm 18 now and I get yelled and honked at on the street every day. This shouldn't be taken as some kind of weird compliment because it happens to girls here no matter what they look like. Men have slowed there cars down and tried to get me to come inside. I usually just ignore it. I don't even look in a harassers direction anymore. The other night a guy got angry at this and said "What you don't got a tongue?!" Asshole.

A few weeks ago I was in Chinatown doing some shopping. Just as I was about to get on an escalator going down into the subway, I felt something grab my ass. I turned around and there were two young black teens laughing. I completely lost all composure here. I turned around and yelled WHAT THE FUCK. That's when their smiles disappeared. They turned around and ran. But I wasn't going to let them get away with it! I chased them down the block on a VERY crowded sidewalk. They ended up running into a Chinese restaurant to hide. Just as I figured they weren't going to come out and that maybe I should just let it go, a cop car pulled up in front of the restaurant (there's a police station right next to it). Two police officers stepped and I approached one of them and told them what happened. A few minutes later, the two teens non-chalantly came out of the restaurant and the cops stopped them. I then very loudly started screaming at them, asking them why they thought they could do that, how that was in any way appropriate, and that they NEED to have respect for woman.
They were pretty ashamed. Staring at the floor. And then the cops took them inside the police station where they called their parents who had to pick them up.

Assholes.
What some people see as harmless is not seen that way by others. The threat of violence and sexual assault is a very, VERY real part of the way every woman makes decisions about her day. Why do I, as a woman, avoid "certain areas" at "certain times", or altogether for that matter? If you have to ask, you've obviously never avoided an alley alone at night or changed your jogging route at the slightest possibility of violence. It's a slippery slope-- I don't know if what some see as a simple catcall is going to escalate into something more. Am I really a "bitch" for trying to keep myself out of harm's way? If you insist that being put off or even afraid of catcalls makes me a bitch, than you either (1) are ridiculously naive or (2) have a misogynistic agenda.
Catcalling is just plain rude. No one should have a right to invade your 'space' by inflicting their views on you. Because it is not always "compliments" or appreciation that is called out. For every 'hey, baby" I've had yelled at me, I've also had a "you're ugly". And while it should bounce off, let's be honest: it doesn't. In either case you feel violated. You feel like some man/woman has taken away your right to simply walk down the street. They degrade the recipient, and I do not care what your culture is, no one should have the right to humilate some else that way.
And where does it stop? Catcalling is a power thing: men use it to objectify women. Will it stop at that? No. Because if you have ever had the misfortune of listening to a guy who has been ignored or rejected by a woman who he catcalled at, you get to hear him turn to his friends and say 'that bitch needs a good f***ing" or "gonna show that bitch who is in charge". Yep, they are threatening violence or even rape.
Sure someone is going to accuse me of going off the deep end on this... but they weren't there when I had to help a friend of mine, who told a particularly persistent catcaller to "f off" and then got punched for it. She didn't ask for the harassment, and she sure didn't ask for the black eye. Her crime: walking with me on our way to the bus stop.
If rape is the fire, then catcalls and leers are the smoke that comes before it. Of course not every man who catcalls is a rapist or potential one, but how do I know that? Really, by catcalling, you're just reminding me of when and where I can get myself around town. Last I checked, I was a DC resident, just like you-- wouldn't that make this MY town, too? Why do I have to take your "advice" on how I should smile or walk? You're intruding upon my right to enjoy this city and go about my business as I see fit. Do I interrupt you in such a way?

-Men, unless you're five years old or mentally retarded, I doubt your "comments" are as innocent as you claim them to be.

-This is an affirmative and unnecessary decisionn!!! You are CHOOSING to say something to me, knowing full well that I may find it offensive. I'm not bothering you, why are you ACTIVELY interrupting my life? It costs you NOTHING to leave me alone, so why waste your effort? It will probably mean the world to me if you do leave me in peace.

-This "it's a compliment and you're a bitch" BS is just that-- BS, and most men, even the worst offenders, KNOW this because they would simply not tolerate another man treating a close female relative, girlfriend, wife, etc in this way. It's a shame that they can only start to see women as humans if they are related to them, but if that's the only way they can get it through their thick skulls, then I suppose it's a (weak) start.
Yep. It's annoying.

I experienced it in this form once, "Hey baby...hey baby...hey baby..." (this was South Street in Philly) When I didn't respond, I got, "Bitch."

I witnessed it just the other day on 12th and G. A woman crossing the street in front of me who looked like she worked at Macy's going in to work (she was in all black with heels--I didn't see her face). A ragamuffin (I'm being kind) was coming towards us trying to get her attention. When she didn't respond, he said, "You fake bitch!"

Yeah, that's the way to win a girl's heart!
I thought this article was very interesting and true. Catcalling is like unwanted attention and makes girls feel dirty and violated. When they shout out dirty comments like, “nice ass”, it means they were staring at the girl’s behind the whole time and what kind of a girl would be happy with that?!?! One time at LOVE night club, my girlfriends and I were going up the stairs when some drunken guy grabbed her butt. Since I was right behind her, I had witnessed everything and I pushed his shoulders and yelled at him, “what the f*** are you doing?!!” Then he got angry at me and kicked me and tried to punch me. If it weren’t for the guys around us that stopped him, he actually might have knocked me out. I had a huge bruise on my shin from that guy kicking me with his dress shoes. I would never forget that day and now I’m scared to stand up for myself or my friends if another guy ever harasses us again. Those guys might think that they are doing us a favor by complimenting us or that the girls are just being snobs, but once again, it is attention we never asked for or wanted in the first place.
I think we're missing the point a bit here. At best, yeah, catcalling is annoying, at worst, it's an all-out threat to our safety. As in rape/sexual assault, it's just not done out of sexual attraction alone, or even at all! It's a deliberate action to humiliate and debase a distinct class of human beings. And for you self-proclaimed "sensitive" gents who may somehow believe you're just paying a compliment or exercizing confidence and creativity in asking for a date, just think of how you REALLY come off to women who put up with this kind of crap from men of all different classes, ages, and colors every day.

Men know perfectly well what they're doing when they catcall and harass women, and it's almost never trying to actually get a date, 'cuz they know that ain't the right way to go about it.

Catcalling is social terrorism that serves to control women and restrict their free movement by reminding them of how vulnerable they are to sexual assault and how willing many men are to commit it.
The article is both funny and very disturbing. I think one thing that hasn't been mentioned is that some women do like this kind of attention. More importantly, there have been women that have been "pulled" by such a method. Because there has been success, these dudes will continue in such behavior. For others b/c they've heard how a dude got a chick, he's going to mimic that "winning" behavior and/or technique as well.

I lived in Central and South America for several years and can attest to the Hispanic male stereotype. Watching how many Hispanic men treat their women in their home countries ... whew, would NEVER PASS here in the U.S. Virtually every immigrant group that comes to the U.S. treat women here like they're back home in the OLD COUNTRY. Don't get me wrong, plenty of Blacks, Whites, and others do it too. Nor am I saying that native-born Americans (which can be any racial/ethnic group) are above such actions, they do it too. Living abroad for 3 years has given me some unique insights into what people do in-country vs being in the U.S. however.

As a black male from the South, I had a real hard time adjusting to NYC. After 3 yrs, I could take it/let it. NYC women got to be the hardest and most difficult women on the planet. BUT they got a lot of reasons to be that way. Congestion, sardine-packed subway rides, no personal space (let alone apt space, lol), expensive, people bumping and/or hitting you walking or with packages, etc it's craziness. The city has a lot of things to distract you, I call it 10,000 things a second vying for your attention; plus many people are aggressive. With construction workers trying to holla at a woman with the addition of plenty more fools trying to get her attention as well-- it can be maddening.

My gal, who's from the Bronx, use to have some run-ins with dudes in her hoodie on her block in Washington Heights (lil' DR for those that know). After giving these young punks a piece of her mind they have stayed quiet ever since. And of course whenever I'm there they act like Casper flipped on them. Women shouldn't have to take such actions, but it is a potential tool.
Black people have a way of acknowledging each other on the streets whenever we see one another. Since I was use to the vast majority of blacks I've encountered from Chicago to ATL to New Orleans behave in such a way, I expected no difference when I got to NYC. That was a real awakening for me once I got there.

Having to choose whether a comment is sincere or respectful vs. something inappropriate, contrieved, or degrading is very unfortunate for many women. A lot of this rude and disrespectful behavoir seem to reflect a lack home training and learning to respect women and people in general. Trying to deal with it in the present form, as well as, trying to prevent such behavior is a challenge for us all.
I'm a white woman and Hispanic and Black men hit on me waaaay more than White men do. I'm not supermodel hot, but attractive. But this happens when I look like shit!

It's a joke among my friends on "how much black men love me" and "Hispanics men love anything that has tits and ass." If it's not a "hey beautiful" it's a "hmm, hmmm" while they look at me up and down. Or my favorite is when I'm driving and they pull they're car close and yell for my number.

Sometimes it's flattering, but mostly it's just plain gross. Because they're approach is usually not sweet, it's piggish. And yes it is scary because sometimes you do feel like you might get attacked.
Catcalling and making lewd comments to passing women is a sign of desperation. It's very much like panhandling--begging for sex rather than money. And more often than not, the perpetrators are the same individuals.

Humanity evolved from other forms of life through a comipletely random process of natural selection, often called the "survival of the fittest". Institutions such as organized religion and the welfare state have encouraged the most unfit to not only survive but to reproduce. They breed like roaches. Now, they all over the streets and sidewalks--a public nuisance at best, and a real menace at worst.

Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT fully human; they are merely by-products of human evolution. Something needs to be done.

We should start by NOT giving them anything, not even a verbal response. When the bums and harassers can no longer obtain money, food, or shelter in our city, they'll migrate to another town and become someone else's problem.

Now that this city's idiiotic gun control law has been voided by the Supreme Court, it's time to pass a concealed-carry ordnance. Anyone with a clean record should be able to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. These bums will think twice before bothering someone who may be armed. An armed society is a safe one. History proves it.

Police should deploy plainclothes officers on our sidewalks. When the perps harass them, they should be arrested on the spot and fined. Those who cannot or will not pay up should be formed into chain gangs. We can put them to work (for the first time in their sorry-ass lives) picking up trash or whatever.

Some may call these measures "extreme". To quote the late, great Barry Goldwater, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." And as many of you have stated here, we NO liberty until we weed out the subhuman vermin on our sidewalks--permanently.
I used to live in DC with my girlfriend, and we spent a lot of time in Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant. She could not walk down the street without getting hollered at. I witnessed it from the window plenty of times. There were so many construction workers on 14th, as well as the random corner dwellers.
The funny thing is, it wasn't ever black men, but always Hispanics.
When I walked with her, guys would turn around and stare, but not say anything. I just stared right back, and that still didn't deter them. Everyone of our friends (girls) have had the same experiences as well. I don't get it. I am from Portland, Ore., and when people ask us about the differences between the cities, that is one of the first things we mention.
To be honest though, one of the "girls" selling mangos across from Bell High School used to have some kind words for me whenever I would walk by. That was a little creepy, but still flattering.
incite - way to call Eaton out. We really need that rational male voice to clarify the situation.

Jen- your daughter was crying. You had to push her into traffic. THAT is real damage.

rxqueen - GOOD FOR YOU!!! I wish I had the lungs to chase someone down like that. Those little bastards should be beaten to within an inch of their lives.

Kat & SK - I'm sorry you were assaulted. That pretty much proves the poster's theory that a street harasser is a violent, misogynistic potential rapist.

AK- I lived in LatAm as well. The difference is the type of comments and the reaction expected. The mess I heard in MX & DR is nothing compared to the shit I hear in the US. The men (when they are abroad) do not expect you to respond. Stereotypes of American (read: white) women abound (Cancun doesn't help) and these scum act it out here.

m16 - as crazy as I know you are, I have fantasized about severing tongues (asshole @ Tenleytown Metro) and beating a man to death with a blackjack (asshole on 9th). I live near 16 & CHts. The day I start packin', someone's last words will be, "you bitch!"

@ the guys who think this ok & we're just bitches - I didn't know the halfway house/shelter/park had internet access.
I get sexually harassed about 4-5 times a day. Often, there is a racial divide. As in, i'm white and those who harass me are not. I don't know what this means. All I know is that I just want to go through my f-in' day without interacting with a bunch of strangers who almost always want more from me than a "thank you" in return. Trust me, if you engage it, it only goes further. Who wants to spend all day rejecting people? It's always stressful. Every day, every time. And it's humiliating. People say things about your body parts to you, in front of everyone there. People want to follow you, you don't know when they'll stop. I used to get confrontational at every pass, "I don't like it when men treat me that way" but i often do get a harsh response, like, "i don't like you anyway, bitch." It should stop.
I keep thinking about how the writer decided to try out harrassing women, especially since he did so outside Pepitos, where I get harrassed. What's next? If he's white, will he dress as a security guard and follow black shoppers around stores? (Or does that not lend itself to "funny" headlines about "grandmas?") Will he yell at immigrants "SPEAK ENGLISH!"? Rob senior citizens on social security check day, just to see what it feels like? Ah, so many ways to demean people in the name of "research."
this is long but it is the letter to the editor I sent about Nice Ass.

Also I need to add: There was a lot of conversation about whether or not street harassment "works." No, it does not "work" for picking up women. But that is not what it is for. It's purpose is to perpetuate male power in public places, and for that it definitely works.

The letter:
While Joe Eaton tried to cross the gender divide and find out what street harassment is like for women, he only skimmed the surface.

For many, especially young women who live in the city and walk or use public transportation, it is a daily burden and threat. I teach self-defense, and students tell me that when they are harassed they feel intimidated, afraid, angry, violated, humiliated, etc. Street harassment maintains and enforces men’s dominance in public spaces. It is a power trip; it is NOT a “compliment.” It is on the spectrum of violence against women.

But there are things women (and men) can do. Ignoring it is one option many women try, and sometimes ignoring it is the smartest, and the safest, choice. But if all you know how to do is ignore it, you don’t really have a choice. Without a choice, most women feel powerless in the face of male aggression. Here are some other strategies:

First, talk to the harasser. Talking back to harassment may be difficult, but it is simple. You don’t need to be creative, or sarcastic or mean. Just tell him what you want.

 Tell the harasser what he’s doing that you don’t like: “That’s harassment.” “Stop making kissy noises at me.” “You’re standing too close.”
 Add what you want him to do: “Don’t talk to me.” “Take your hand off me.” “You need to back up.”
 Use your voice, facial expression and body language. All three should be in synch. Avoid giving mixed messages (like having a nervous smile on your face while saying “Leave me alone!”). Even just keeping your eyes up and looking at him can change the dynamic.
 Project confidence and calm. You can act [ital] relaxed, serious and in control even when you don’t feel that way.
 Make no excuses. Being polite is fine at first, but if the harasser doesn’t respond, drop the niceties. You don’t need to apologize for how you feel or what you want. You also don’t have to wait for your “turn” in the conversation.
 Use statements, not questions. “Leave me alone,” not “Would you please leave me alone?”
 Stay on your own agenda. Don’t respond to diversions, threats, blaming, guilt-tripping or name-calling. Just stick to your point.
 Attack the behavior, not the person. Tell the harasser what he’s doing that you don’t like (“You are harassing me”) rather than questioning his worthiness to walk the planet (“You are such a jerk”). Avoid cursing, name-calling, put downs and other things that could raise the temperature unnecessarily.
 Repeat yourself--it often gets him to stop. And if he doesn’t listen, or respect your request, that gives you important information about him and his intentions.
 Decide when you’re done. You don’t have to wait for the harasser to apologize or have a personality transplant. Success is how you define it. If you said what you needed to say, and you’re ready to leave, do so.
 Be prepared for parting shots. As Eaton saw, harassers often change course when things don’t go the way they planned. A minute ago you were the sexiest thing on two legs. Now you are a cunt or a dyke or massively ugly. That’s okay. Your job isn’t to convert the harasser—your job is to take care of yourself and to say what you need to say.

Also, talk to friends, family, co-workers. Break the silence. Get support—this stuff is hard to deal with. Share ideas for handling harassment. Ask the men in your lives to listen to and support you. This is what Kimberly Klinger did with Joe Eaton, and to his credit, he tried to get it. Men can support female friends and family by believing that harassment is a problem, understanding that women do not invite it, and not judging women’s feelings about it. They can become allies by interrupting abuse in public places.
As india.arie says "It doesn't cost a thing to smile, you don't have to pay to laugh". I never was one for catcalling but I don't let it bug me either. I've had guys yell very nice things, as well as rather foul things. Be happy that someone thinks enough of you to say anything at all. My girlfriends and I admit that when we're feeling like we're having a bad hair/clothes/etc day at times those random guys who yell out "A sexy you looking good" makes us feel a little bit better. Granted we'd rather someone approach us in a nicer way, it doesn't kill us to nod and keep it moving.
Such sad people. The people who get offended are just as pathetic as the people who offend. If white men are so up in arms about this -- do something instead of being such pussies. Most of you are bigger than "little Mexicans.." You're all a bunch of turds.
Women - yes this sucks, but try finding your own way of confidently dealing with this. Men - if you have any respect for yourself and for women, speak out against harrassment and offer support.

Below are some tips from an Adams Morgan-based Black woman married to a Latino whose family is in construction. (Trust me - my brother in-law's workers don't have the time or interest to bother women in the street. They are too busy making money.)

Firstly - no matter what, walk and talk like you mean it. Carrying yourself with strength and confidence translates the same into any language and culture. Here are a few more ideas.

1) Become allies with the "locals" - especially if you are very young and/or a minority in your area, get to know the cops, mail carriers, shop workers, vendors, panhandlers (seriously) or anyone that relies on local business and is often on the street/corner. Ideally build your network with one or more other female customers. Intimidated clients are bad for business. DC is a big city with a small town mindset. Folks will get in each others' business and support you, so use it to your advantage to stay safe from sexual predators.

2) Create your own 'bubble' - It's like using the traffic report in the morning. You check for problem areas in advance and come up with alternatives. Not because you're afraid but because you know your time is valuable. Wearing dark sunglasses, earphones or just pretending to talk into your phone will help block out the street noise and reduce the hassle.

3) Escalate it to "the boss" - if offenders works on a construction site, drive a van/truck or just stand infront of a business, speak with the manager/owner IN PERSON and tell them you'll lodge complaints with authorities and publicly badmouth their business forever.

Now who owns the sidewalk? Punk-ass! You in MY house! You don't have to say this outloud -but that's a pretty clear message.

4) Culture Club: Of course, I'm biased because I'm black and Latino by marriage, but you have to be realistic about DC if you choose to live and/or work here. Find SOMETHING to enjoy or appreciate about these "other cultures" and you will live in less fear. And if you live in Mt. Pleasant, learn some freakin SPANISH (see item 1). By the way, Pepito's has awesome food and very nice staff of - get this - evangelicals. And yes some are young males and - gasp - Mexicans. If you go inside and get some soft tacos, you'll feel much better about walking in the neighborhood.

I'm not at all naive nor advocating that women are the ones that have to change. I say these things because I've lived them. It's YOUR city! Own it!
It's great that a women's issue can actually make the front page of a paper these days.

The underlying assumption of cat-calling is that the women receiving such attention are not good girls anyway. In this archaic way of thinking, a woman who is dressed well, unashamed of her body, and out alone in order to work a job to support herself should be expecting these comments. A good girl would stay home or have a male chaperone, apparently. This "bad girl" characterization makes her at once appealing and deserving of ridicule. Of course, to the overwhelmingly uneducated men who have nothing better to do than to try to "pick up" women, the concept that a woman may want to choose her own sexual partner is completely foreign, as is the fact that a woman generally dislikes feeling as if she is being auctioned off while walking down the street.

The article touches on the issues of what some have called "cultural relativity" - more specifically that cat-calling is apparently part of Hispanic culture. If this article had ventured into northern Virginia, it would have found that such cat-calling comes almost exclusively from Hispanic men. It's not racist to say so; nor is it an exaggeration to call it sexual harassment. We cannot let one group's cultural unawareness play out on our women's bodies. When I was 16, I rode the bus three to six times a week to get to work. Simply waiting at the bus stop is now an invitation to be heckled. I don't care if it's part of Hispanic culture - if we were in Mexico, that argument might make sense. But in this country, as in any nation to which people immigrate, it should not be a ridiculous expectation that people alter some of their actions. It's called integration.

Earlier this week, the usual staring and glaring took a different turn. Taking the Metro into the District for work, a man my father's age sat next to me in the outside seat. He proceeded to stare directly at me for the next 10 minutes (which at such a close range is not only creepy but awkward). I listened to music and tried to ignore it – as many men seem to think, this is how to deal with such a situation. After all, it's no big deal, and he doesn't mean anything by it. After some strange behavior on his part, I looked down and suddenly realized that his hand was on my thigh. I screamed "What the fuck are you doing?" He obviously did not speak English, and he looked at me with these surprised and sad little eyes, as if to say, "Did I do something bad?" He got off at the next stop. Though I've had my fair share of hassling from such slobs, I had never experienced anything like this... and never expected to, especially at noon on a Monday.

This is a problem for all women. And it shouldn't be. There are plenty of ways for a decent man to meet a woman that don't consist of reducing her to collection of body parts with the help of the usual diminutive (and slightly sick) words like "baby" or "sweetie". From what I’ve seen, all these men seem to be interested in women of one type: breathing.
I know that this is a small minority of men that do this, but about 90 percent of men that harrass me on the streets of DC are hispanic. I am an immigrant from South America who's parents worked hard as a cleaning lady and my father was a driver, and they got ahead in this country even without an education, so it hurts me when I walk down the street and constantly get harrassed by latino men. I am 38 years old, married and don't own a car, but I am constantly in a rage when disrespected on a constant level by young hispanc men, and I know that I am not alone. I grew up near the Adams Morgan area and this has ALWAYS been a problem, even as a young child. The first time I had my ass pinched by a hispanic adult man I was about 8 years old, and the last time was about a year ago. My friends that went to Catholic school had it even worse because their uniforms made them a target with hispanic men, especially men from El Salvador. I have also seen women attacked by rocks and really stinging words when they decide to stand up for themselves. If us Hispanics to earn respect, there needs to be more respect for women in the community.
I am happy this article is getting people to think about women's issues like this one.

I HATE cat-calling, esp staring, from men on the street! HATE it! I just want to be left alone. Staring, in my mind, feels almost as -- if not more -- intimidating than calling out to women. I've had men slow down their cars to get a closer look at me. That is so intimidating!

I've lived in many large US cities and have never felt so unsafe -- or made to feel so hypersexualized and filthy.

STOP. CALLING. OUT. TO. WOMEN.

NOW.
I don't get why this article neglected to mention rape and street crime as a major factor in why many women have such strong reactions to catcalling. I was mugged on the street I live on over a year ago and I still can't have anyone, anywhere walk behind me. And this was a mugging that was pretty tame in comparison to many--no serious assault or weapon was used. What about women that have been raped? (And a huge percentage of us have.)

For all the men that jump out of the darkness to tell us how sexy we are, how they want to fuck us up the ass: maybe you should think about the millions of women that have had their bodies violently attacked and violated. Think about your mother, your wife, your sister. Think about never feeling safe, even on the sidewalk outside your own home.
Another dumb-ass article about the dumb-ass people in this dumb-ass city.
Great article. Nicely written. As a former cat caller :) who knows a fair amount of women I will say this.....As a whole it doesn't work, maybe about 2% of the time, however it depends on the context. I know women who hate to be catcalled, yet feel unattractive if they are not. I know women who go out on a Friday night in a group expecting to be catcalled. How would a single woman feel if she dressed up went out for a night on the town and no one complimented her. Sure, leering and following her around and screaming crap is wrong but nowadays I lump nicely approaching a woman and telling her that she looks nice today in with cat calling since they both seem to invoke the same response.

Personally, I stopped cat calling a while back because I am not wasting anyones time including my own. For the most part I compliment women I already know. In fact I rarely look at a woman more than 2-3 seconds and if she doesn't approach me, than we don't meet. There are plenty of women I find attractive, but it is very rare that I approach women nowadays. I am not a donjuan or anything but women do approach me (i'm an ok looking guy:). It's not that I am stuck up or scared to approach them the least bit, it's just that many women look at me and must have already made up their minds that I am "going to" approach them (even at work) so their defenses go up by the body language they project. Being the type of guy that was raised to look people in the eye and speak it is a little discouraging to speak to someone only to have them look at the ground or immediately look away. But it is what it is. I rather be percieved as the wierd or stuck-up guy that never looks or speaks than the one they've flatter themselves into thinking I want more out of them than I do.
I am an asian girl who lives in columbia heights. I cannot walk down the street without getting harrassed, especially by black men. I find them repulsive and ignore them, but because I walk down the same streets with the same people hanging around all the time, they now split and curse when I walk by and say things like "that chinese girl don't like black guys." It's unbelievable. I always take my ipod with me.
I'm surprised at how many people actually think that responding to a cat-caller is in any way is a good idea. Catcallers are all jerks. Even a cat caller who hooks up has offended hundreds of women before getting a response from some crazy woman who actually wanted to be picked up by some stranger on the street.
Cat callers should be treated as prank callers or even worse, stalkers. Inside it's fine to be frustrated, but outwardly...IGNORE THEM! Don't talk to them, don't smile, don't look at them. Just keep walking straight ahead as if you didn't hear them. Ignore the "bitch" response as well. These men want a response, and the best thing you can do is to not respond. There's a book (I think it's called "Living with Fear") that addresses this mentallity.
Do. Not.Acknowledge.Them.
The amount of cat calls one woman can accumulate in just a few hours are insane. I'm 15 and live just a little outside of DC and have this problem as well. The other day, a man in his late 60's came up to me in the grocery store and asked me to marry him. He didn't just walk away and take the rejection lightly either. He went on about how he wished he was younger so he could treat me like I should, and to take his arm so he could imagine what it would be like to walk down the alter with me. When I told him I was 15, he RAN away. Things like this aren't uncommon either. For someone like myself, with an already low self esteem its a little flattering, but that doesn't make it any less creepy either.
However, I feel that there is nothing wrong with men just looking. Just saying stupid things out of their mouths, that’s different. If you don’t know what I mean asked a female in your family, like your mother. I have a 14 year old cousin who carries a large knife with her now because she was beaten up by a catcaller on a public street when she refused to give him attention. Street harassment must stop or it will bridge into physical bullying.
You'd be suprised how many of them will grab at you when you walk by them on the street. They like to grab (often lightly but sometimes forcefully) your hands, arms, and once, even someone even 2-handed grabbed my ass! The catcalls are manageable, but the grabbing/touching does get frustrating after a while.
I'm surprised at the provincialism of most people here in DC. Truly, being multilingual/bilingual does not a citizen of the world make. Transplants to DC, get used to DC or get the fuck out.
Wow, I could have been Kimberly Klinger about ten years ago!

I'm not a provincial transplant to DC -- I grew up in the area and lived on and off with my Dad in the city from the ages of 15 to 21. Then I worked on K Street for seven years.

I used to get tense going out by myself because of all the catcalls, which were pretty much constant, no matter what I was wearing or what my reaction was. (Sometimes a smile, sometimes a nose in the air.)

And yes, I felt like a racist because I am white and all of the men were either African American or Hispanic. Though I was never thinking of the interaction racially and hadn't started out with any preconceptions.

I wondered if making sucking noises out a car window was a good way to get women to get in there with you. Somehow I doubt it.

I don't get yelled at as much as I used to, but I remember that it used to stress me out considerably. It would be nice if these men would let women "walk down the street free of suggestion" (to further date myself).
Wow... I'm sorry that I missed this article being out of DC for the summer, and just read it now. I'm even more disheartened at the lack of a deluge of letters as a public outcry to this article. As a woman, sister, daughter, aunt, niece, confidante, and activist looking closely at nursing and public health interventions around gender based violence, I am seriously outraged.

I just returned from South Africa after working with and studying survivors and women who were victims of fatal sexual assaults, i.e. female rape homicides. Nearly 70% of the women who were raped then killed were victims of people they did not necessarily know, but what they called - "know by sight." They were either a family member, intimate partner, or someone they saw who called at them in the street. Someone they say who called at them in the street. What the hell... Time at the mortuary there provided brutal evidence of the consequences of unrequited street harassment. Mostly inflicting stab and strangulation injuries to the neck, front chest, and head, the women were sad and forgotten victims to what's also known as "overkill."

If I were to bring in more statistics around violence against women from that work and also in DC, we might find that most women of color aged 17-35 in both lands are sadly dying at the hands of their own partners or someone they know. But that’s not sexy enough for a city paper article to pick up, right?

20 years ago, together we fought sexual harassment in the workplace. Today, we are egregiously accepting sexual harassment on the street every day. When we are silent because we accept it or do not know how to respond or change which roads we walk because we are afraid, we are victims of a society that's forgotten how to act in terms of protective policy around violence, leaving only its mostly female and transgender population vulnerable. And when we watch it happen as a silent bystander, we have also fallen victim.

Perhaps street harassment would be more of an outrage if Paris Hilton were sexually harassed by the general public instead of her paparazzi’s cameras. Or perhaps if people got rid of their notions that one must be this society's concept of "sexy" or "beautiful" or be wearing certain clothing to get harassed. Or all young women of color aged 17-35 will need to die in DC and South Africa thanks to people they know whose advances they didn't, according to their cat-caller, satisfactorily respond to. Or maybe, if just once, we stopped sipping our medium soy chai tea lattes at the local Fourbucks long enough to look closer and challenged misogyny & violence in the media and the racial prejudice blaring at us in the 400 ads we see daily. Or maybe if we understood that you don’t need to be of a specific culture to harass others. Or maybe if instead men were harassed in the street by women it would be seen more as a problem than just a fun issue to write about in the city papers.

Really, though, I still must say thank you on behalf of all men, women and transgender in DC for at the very least raising and highlighting the issue around street harassment in the city. I personally have been so tired of changing my route, of listening to my mp3 player instead of the clangor of city sounds, and of thinking a bit deeper about what to wear on hot days.

Secondly, I must say that it was also at least nice to see the article written by a man and his first attempt to begin to even grasp the complexity and gravity of this form of violence against women. Yet the desire to amuse oneself further by testing verbal street harassment on women is an outrage. Start looking at some research and you might find incredibly detrimental effects on one's mental, physical and emotional health as a result of sexual advances and what might just deem as "harmless" flattery.

I strongly urge the City Paper to re-write this article in a new issue, somehow and by someone with a bit more writing skills & style, depth of understanding around gender based violence & health, sensitivity around cultural relativism in a divided city, activism and policy education, and ultimately, a desire to do more than just chuckle at a loosely finished journalistic product that people can read, laugh at, and recycle. I’d love to help write it. But perhaps the writer and his cronies are still too busy immersing themselves in the novelty of harassing what he sees as sexy people on the street and accepting that it’s funny & okay because hey, all the Latinos are doing it nowadays, or he just tried on his new Axe© deodorant and it gives him more cohones to do so.
Even nearly a year after reading this article, I still refer people to it. It's probably been the most influencial, empowering things I've ever read. When I was thirteen and the noise started, I felt like I had to smile weakly when asked, respond somehow when called to. Then I started getting angry with this pigs who thought they could talk to me like they had an open pass to my bed by grunting at me. But I still felt helpless and victimized, and I couldn't stand those feelings.

I'm decent- not a model, B cups, never dress provocatively (no cleavage, long pants, no skirts) and yet they still make noise at me. It's threatening, especially when they start getting angry at you for ignoring them. "Men" like these are the reason I carry mace in my pocket.

Honestly, if you like a girl, try to TALK TO her, not "holla" AT her. Even if you're average, or even ugly, your chances of getting a number are increased exponentially just by being nice. And if she blows you off anyway, then she wouldn't have been a good mate, anyway, and it's no loss.
Sometimes I do think that women talk about this in a self-congratulatory way. But what was interesting about this article is that the woman who looked like the supermodel (6", blonde, black dress) did not get approached once. I never get approached by men and I used to think it was because I am not attractive to men. Then I see other women getting approached and I don't understand it. But I realize that it doesn't neccesarily have to do with beauty as I see a lot of East Indian women who are innocently beautiful and never even get so much as a glance. Maybe I look too innocent.

Oh, KTB, you should get over yourself. Black Betty Boop?
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Invisible girl, I think men do this to women who are vulnerable in some way -- like too innceot to fight back or just plain looking. I noticed that I get more catcalls and harassment when I am walking in my sweat clothes than I do when I am dressed up, professional, and feeling supremely confident. I also recently cut my hair -- from long to professional, sytlish. When it was longer, men approached me and asked if they could be my "daddy\" as they saw me as a "little girl." I also got approached by a lot of old men -- old enough to be my father/grandfather. Having said that. even in my teens, I got approached my middle aged men begging for sex. A middle aged man at my college said that his middle aged male married friends were envious of his access to so much young sex.

What can I say? I have some questions....

1. If women get so much attention, why do they flaunt cleavage or wear suggestive clothing? Wouldn't this just increase their chances of being violated/targeted -- or are they just accepting that men are dogs and then using sex as a weapon againast them?

2. Does anyone have any strategies to respond to harassers? I loved humor as a resposne.

My response has been to dress up and look/feel/act confident. When I am confident sleazy men are less likely to approach or degrade me. I also have let men know is no uncertain terms that their behavior is unacceptable. I have confronted them, stood my ground, reported them to authorities. They have stopped.

I have also learned how to carry myself -- I am now more quick on my feet -- so that i can dart away. I find being "open," smiling, returning eye contact is all perceived as an invitiation by the intruder. I hate having to avoid eye contact and just ignore intruders...but I find doing so helps preserve my sanity and protects my boundaries. I find that if you so much as acknowledge them -- like respond to their weak efforts at conversation, they will quickly introduce themselves and then a request to exchange phone numbers follows soon after. You ahve to cut them off at the pass.

i was also thinking at how this disempowers women. Men can bond and network with other men they causually bump into. We can't relax and have a nice, comfortable conversation with a man in line without his trying to take it to the next level. I have found that by simply having a pleasant chat with a man at a place I frequent, that he now feels entitled to my time and attention by cirtue of the fact that he now "knows" me. He now tries to flirt, tap me on the shoulder, sit at my table, and otherwise act like a smitten, love sick puppy. It's pathetic. I have learned to train him to stop...to condition him, if you will. Since this is not someone I would want in my life anyway, I tell him each time -- "thank you, but I am not interested." When he desperately tried to get my attention I weakly smile and repeat phrase. I also change my time of arrival, so he knows I am avoiding him....

Make it clear you are not interested. Do not encourage or indulge their inapprpriate behavior.

As many have said, men who have a lot going on in their lives don't descend to catcalling and harassment. As one of the posters cleverly observed -- it's usually the lowest evolved of the species whose only function is to reproduce his dying self. his entire life is consumed with sex and reproduction.

Myy response: be confident, address it immediately, politey, calmly, and authoritatively....inject humor if you can....and keep moving....
Sorry for typos.
I can appreciate the male perspective after clicking on the video..the harassed women seem to be enjoying it...like running away giggling...or even making a face of feigned disqust...lI think these reactions just provoke men.

Instead, they should either ignore and keep walking...without emotion...or just stop and calmly ask what they want..while keeping up boundaries, remaining calm and in control. It takes two to tangle...They they get nothing out of the interaction, they will stop...Yelling back is a reaction. They have won. Flirting and giggling while running away is perceived as cute and inviting. One woman there even complained about being groped while wearing a low cut top which showed her breasts. Come on now. Does she have any awareness of what message her outfit sends out.

The women in the video, however outraged, seemed to be sending out mixed messages. Degrading women is all about control. Reclaim it by just ignoring, confidently, without running scared...or by acknowledging igt and making hte perpetrator feel stupid and ridiculous as you call him on his stupid behavior. Let him know hyou are nobody's fool and not one to be trifled with.
Want to know why some women react so negatively to catcalls? It's not Women's Studies 101. It's not "raging" feminism. It's because I'm smaller than they are. It's because more often than not, they threaten me with violence if I don't do what they want. It's because women sometimes are raped by strange men who approach them at night.

I have just as much a right to value my own safety as any man on the street.

Get that in your head. It's not a game when my life is in danger.
In Egypt.
Am an Egyptian Male . the same thing happens here in Egypt.. and everywhere i think.. men are the same every where..
let us hope that we can co exist in a nice way .. ladies pls. don't expect that men won't approach you cause they will .. men .. will you pls. be polite.. ? women are not sex tools are they?
God you stupid dickheads if you're trying to pick up girls go to a bar, don't harass random women on the street and then get all offended when they just want to be left alone. Believe it or not women have lives and they don't exist just to have sex with you. I'm lucky enough to be too young and reclusive to be
harassed yet but I'm thinking I might take up cross dressing when I get to college to avoid this crap.
I can't believe some of the comments I read about girls will feel like she's losing it if she's not getting any catcalls. I came from an Asian country ordinary where men NEVER catcall at women because we do place a lot of importance on public decorum. Funny how all of us never felt that we're missing something in our life.

Then in US, I'm constantly bombarded with "Hey baby" and "hey honey". The only impression it left on me is how sleazy these men are. For crying out loud, keep your compliments to yourself. How do you feel if your 11 or 12 year old daughter/granddaughter/niece/sister being dismissively told that she ought to feel "flattered" when a guy stared down at her with a lecharous smile on his face and told her what he thought of her body parts?

I honestly don't mind at all if men smiles at me and say "hello" or "how are you?" But don't approach me with your "baby" or "honey" or act like you're familiar with me or my body. It's disrespectful and it's more likely to get you a slap than laid.
Kamel,

Would you feel that you cannot walk down the street without men telling you how perfectly formed your behinds are and make speculations about your package in front of everybody in the streets, your friends, your parents and even your own child? Suppose some 90 year old women start randomly grabbing your junk?
Being the brother of a rape victim, stuff like this really hits home with me. Please, guys, just don't assume a woman walking down the street is at all comfortable with your advances, because everyone knows what you have in mind and it's genuinely disturbing to a lot of women. These are people just trying to get somewhere they have to be, and you're making it really uncomfortable for them. C'mon guys, there must be a better way of spending your time than rudely soliciting passersby. Keep it in your pants, creeps.

I suggest buying an mp3 player, some dark shades, and a can of mace. That way you can drown out the cat-calls with sweet jams while avoiding eye contact, and if some creep makes a move, you can lighten his day with a mace facial. I know its no solution, but sadly some things will never change.
This goes with the territory of generational nudity to be explicably and explicitly honest.From the wound,female offspring is genetically entrenched to expose the body for not only financial survival but emotional.That is why most,not all,choose a clothing that is either revealing or just fitting to the application of the figure as tight as possible.This is so sad because you can opticalize the weakness in their brains or emotions when they parade anywhere in public from tight skirts,jeans,halter tops,lowriders,lip gloss etc..Intelligence has just been stunted but they seem to think they do have it because they are trained and brainwashed to focus on sexuality rather than anything else.There is nothing more saddening than the injuries they present to their self confidence and self esteem because they can not feel whole wearing the appropiate size clothing.Tight clothing is not natural,but if they only knew and not let me omit high heels,this has got to be one of the biggest setup showcases to women ever invented.The damage this causes to the spine and joints and all just so they can stand out in crowd.Will they ever wake up,I seriously digress it.How can you come out the house everyday almost naked? Why do they feel its necessary to compete with every other sister? Most women have nothing upstairs and think with their small head but let them convey it,it is men? I do not think so...Men can tell what's on your mind the minute you step out in public...You dress like a clown for the attention but then decide if you accept the fruition of it or not.How contradicting and deceiving can you be.Men do not dress provocatively because we use our mechanical brains more or at least we find that significant.Furthermore,loose clothing is comfortable and sensical,bottom &amp; top line ladies,or wannabe ladies.Fellas,needs to arrest supporting this trickery from females and stop worshipping their figures.We are being played big time,and I repeat BIG-TYME!Why is it I get the feeling we must pay for women companionship and never them ours? The exhange of easy money into their hands is lopsided and we must end this demonic slavery behavior in womens minds.Sexually,we both have the same thing and neither is superior nor inferior.Women need a reality check as to why its all about money in a relationship its a 2 way street with me or a dead end one if its not a 100/100.If I pay bills you certainly follow that rule.but if you think you are going to ride the horse and I walk beside it,think again.I may have strayed just a tadbit on the topic but I think iterating that is justly.All &amp; All, if you milk a cow you have milk,breed chickens you get eggs,and if you walk out the house showing ass,an ass will communicate with you like one! As far as cat calling,the cat has fallen.Like angels in the biblical scripture.Take heed and raise women back up to their original status because the lineage of today is in terrible shape.And for the woman whom know how to carry and conduct their selves,and dress right but a guy or guys holla at'cha inappropiately or maybe misappropiately,do not be so hellbent and know why they do what they know they do.Take a look in the street and across the street,walking in the mall and the supermarkets,restaurants,just about anywhere,schools,colleges,workplaces etc..who is it that dressed half-nakedly? I will give a clue IT AIN'T US!!!!! Holla or Swolla
Tone...

At first, I didn't think you were serious. Women have "weakness in their brains or emotions"? Men "use [y]our mechanical brains more"? What rock did you crawl out from underneath? (I have my suspicions... *cough*ReligiousFundamentalist*cough*)

But I digress... From your rambling, incoherent comment, I gleaned the following "point": Women dress "like clown[s] for the attention" or in "tight skirts, jeans, halter tops, lowriders" and [gasp, the horror!] "lipgloss. etc." Therefore, being harassed on the street by total strangers "goes with the territory." Please correct me if I'm wrong about this digest of your "thoughts."

And now for the people's rebuttal: It doesn't matter what women wear out of the house. I have been cat-called for wearing a mini-skirt to a club just as often as for wearing a pant-suit to work. If you had bothered to read any of the commentary preceding you, you would have seen stories from mothers, women who cover their legs, necks and wrists, girls who were barely 15 who were all harassed in public. This is an issue that cuts across class, race, and yes, even clothing choices.

Your comment is a pseudo-scientific mishmash of all the negative stereotypes I've ever heard about women: We're sluts who ask for it, we're only interested in money, we're desperate for attention, we're hypocrites, we're emotionally unstable... I'm making myself bored just writing this gloss. We've heard it all before, and it's plainly misogynistic bullshit perpetuate by considerate men such as yourself, who take it as their responsibility to explain to us poor, misguided ladies how very, very stupid we really are. Save it.

Women have women's bodies. They should never been made to feel ashamed at the flesh that they were born with. It doesn't matter if a woman shows a little skin or a lot. It is HER SKIN, and she has just as much right to walk around it in without being sexually propositioned as you do. Dick.
Despite the harassment, most men are not predators. They very fact that women live and exist and most do so without encountering a serious assault situation owes to the fact that most men are not predators.
This article sucks with no pictures in it

I dont buy one sentence
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