October 1, 2019
There’s a growing problem in the world: street harassment. Sixty-five percent of 2,000 women nationwide said they had been harassed on the street in a Stop Street Harassment survey taken in 2014. This includes catcalling, something that is a controversial topic. Is it a compliment? Is it objectifying? Here’s the answer: it is not a compliment and it is objectifying. And it’s something that a lot of high school girls have experienced.
According to a worldwide study done by Hollaback!, 84 percent of girls aged 11 to 17 have experienced street harassment. From fifth graders to seniors in high school, girls are exposed to verbal and sexual assault on the street. Imagine a soon-to-be freshman walking the streets of downtown with her best friend when two men start walking alongside them. They call them beautiful and ask their age. It’s just a compliment, right? So what if they’re twice the girls’ age? Just take the compliment. And if the girls feel unsafe, that’s too bad. No one stops the two men from pestering them. This story isn’t made up- it’s a firsthand experience.
The fact is that catcalling is not something that makes girls feel special. It makes them feel scared to walk alone, scared to express themselves the way they want to. Sixty-six percent of people said they changed the way they dressed, according to Athena Talks, as well as 70 percent of people not going to a party because of fear of street harassment on the way. Catcalling and street harassment isn’t just one comment that the woman will forget and let go. It affects their way of life.
Women change their route home or take an Uber or taxi instead of walking. This presents a financial challenge in addition to the emotional damage that catcalling has on people. Athena Talks also said that 35 percent of people have moved or quit jobs because of the high number of street harassers in their area.
The effects of street harassment also present mental difficulties. The American Psychological Association says that the objectification and sexualization of women, especially younger girls, has effects on their math skills and logical reasoning. In addition to cognitive abilities, sexualizing girls also leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
There are ways to stop street harassment. Step in when a person is being catcalled or if they look like they feel unsafe; help them to get away from the situation. Stop blaming the victims for what they wear or the way they walk and start holding the harassers accountable. Lastly, just shut up and don’t comment on stranger’s appearances. Catcalling never worked to get a girl’s number anyway.