I refuse to cover up to avoid catcalling

It spurs them on even more


Like most women, catcalling is something that has always bothered me. Like most women, I’ve experienced it a lot. By the ‘cool’ boys at school who did it to ‘be a lad’, by passing cars and by men at the other end of the street. Basically, people who aren’t man enough to say it to your face.

I experienced it the other day walking through my uni town, wearing a fairly short and very purple tie-dye dress. Almost as if on cue, a student went to the effort of opening their window and heckling me from the third story of his house. He was belittling me and putting me down because of what I was wearing.

I don’t tend to get embarrassed easily and just laughed it off – it was a reflection of the catcaller, not me. Maybe if I’d worn something more neutral, less exposed, more ‘feminine’, then maybe he wouldn’t have shouted. He wouldn’t have shouted at me if I’d been wearing a baggy jumper and tracksuit bottoms, I thought.

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But that’s when I realised, to do that would be giving in to him. Changing what we wear to avoid unpleasant responses from men is suggesting their reactions are ok, it’s pretty much encouraging them.

Catcalling is a damaging factor to young girls’ self-expression and confidence. Getting unwanted attention by wearing a dress that’s short automatically makes you think you shouldn’t dress like that. We should be able to.

That’s why I am calling a ceasefire: I refuse to change my outfit because some random man made me feel uncomfortable. We really shouldn’t be made to feel we need to change the way we are because of a comment shot at you from a passing car or from the other end of the street.

I know my clothes are not for everyone, but hey that’s why they are mine and not yours. In twenty years I know I will groan over the tie-dye and tragic clothes, but that’s for me to work out.

For now, I am happy as a tragedy and reject the fact that I need to change the way I dress to avoid catcalling.