Catcall Corrections

How to correct someone who makes an inappropriate catcall.

Richie Frieman,
March 8, 2012

Q: My friends and I are often the subjects of catcalls on our way to work. They aren’t always malicious, but they do make me feel uncomfortable sometimes. What’s a good way to get these to stop without having the situation escalate?

A: If a catcall or other leering advance is aggressive, uncomfortably sexual, threatening, or unwelcome, the first thing you should do is consider your personal safety. Would firing back at the catcaller potentially cause an aggressive reaction? if so, the best thing you can do is ignore it, because engaging with someone who is catcalling you is probably exactly the desired outcome. If it is a person whom you know, and you are in a situation where you feel safe confronting him or her, then you should be frank and direct. You might say something like, "I have to tell you that your catcalls and whistles make me feel uncomfortable. If you could please stop I would appreciate it very much."

If a whistle is done in a friendly way, perhaps expressing something like, "You look very lovely today," then you will have to decide for yourself if this is a gesture you appreciate. If not, it is best to ignore it; if it is, you might simply smile back and keep going on your way.

Related Tips