Catcalling is often normalized in our culture, dismissed with a "boys will be boys" mentality arguing that it's actually harmless and women simply shouldn't be bothered by it. Roughly half of the population doesn't understand what it's like to be catcalled, which likely contributes to the cavalier attitude our culture has regarding it. In reality, catcalling is a form of harassment; and there is nothing harmless, casual, or cute about a stranger demanding your attention, confronting you with sometimes threatening and sexually charged comments, and then frequently insulting you if you ignore or reject them. Street harassment is a serious issue that often escalates past the verbal: In 2015, 40 percent of women in the United States reported having been groped or fondled out on the street, with 77 percent saying they were followed. These are serious threats to our safety and well-being at the hands of people who would probably claim they were "just messing around."
In a recent AskReddit conversation, women shared their experiences with catcalling, which run the gamut from whistling to comments about their breasts to being cornered by strangers in cars. Catcalling, harassment, verbal assault — call it whatever you want. It's real, and it's not OK.