Saturday, September 22, 2018

Catcall Culture

by S. Manfredi (writer), Upper East Side, February 20, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, its time to get something straight. "Whoo, baby!" is not a pick-up line. Hoots, hollers, whistles, horn honking, and obscene comments do not make me, or anyone else, swoon. Yet every day, without fail, I watch dozens of men and women employ these tactics in their quest for companionship.

Perhaps its the size of New York City that makes us comfortable enough to verbally rate any given person. There is a certain anonymity that cloaks the random catcaller, and allows him to feel safe in his rude behavior. In a city that’s constantly on the move, the chances of a catcaller seeing his victim again seem very small. More often than not, however, we're subject to repeat offenders. I find myself constantly avoiding a certain stretch of 86th Street where the street clean up guys hang out. Apparently, they are there not only to pick up trash, but to talk it as well. On more occasions than I care to remember, I have had to listen to their sad, funny, and sometimes humiliating commentary on my appearance. What a price to pay for forgetting to cross the street before I reached them.

Then, of course, we are faced with the double edged sword of the smug response. Its extremely gratifying to yell back to our would-be tormenters "I'm married" or "You don't have a chance in hell." I don't recommend this course of action, though. Not only can it be dangerous to provoke a random person on the street, but you've also given them what they want.

It has occurred to me that the catcall culture is nothing more than a cry for attention. By responding to these jerks you've given them a momentary connection, something they lack in their everyday lives. To remain silent is to walk away feeling good about yourself, and to know that you are above the ones making all the noise.

To the catcallers of the city, remember: you aren't impressing anyone. We hear you loud and clear, but for the most part you sound absolutely pathetic.

About the Writer

S. Manfredi is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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