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The Pitt News: Pitt students condemn catcalling

https://pittnews.com/article/127683/arts-and-entertainment/pitt-students-condemn-catcalling/

Pitt students condemn catcalling
Joanna Li | Staff Writer
February 14, 2018

As a 12-year-old, Sophia Marshall stepped out of the house feeling confident in thePA map
outfit she had picked out that morning. As she waited for a friend by the local high
school, she heard a sharp whistle from out of the window of a passing car — her
first experience with catcalling.

Marshall, now a junior business administration major at Pitt, recalled feeling conflicted at the time — a mix of validation and violation.  It wasn’t until she came to college that the instances of catcalling became more frequent for Marshall — happening on the bus, her nightly walk home in Central Oakland and during her summer abroad in Paris — causing her to feel fed up.
“I’m not your baby, I’m not your honey,” Marshall said. “You don’t know me.”
According to a Cornell study, 85 percent of women experience street harassment before age 17 — and some women in Oakland are in that majority. Walking in groups of three or more, carrying pepper spray at all times and knowing a few self-defense techniques are all tips in the back of the minds of some women who have experienced street harassment at Pitt.

Marie Skoczylas, a visiting instructor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
Program, offers a definition of catcalling and its effects.
“Catcalling is singling out a target for sexual objectification and commenting publicly on
that person’s appearance,” Skoczylas said. “It requires a sense of entitlement to pull a
stranger into that kind of situation, knowing the advance may well be unwelcome and
insulting.”

Catcalling is part of the larger issue of street harassment. According to “Stop Street
Harassment” — a nonprofit organization focusing on ending gender-based street
harassment — street harassment can range from unwanted whistling to sexual assault. As Skoczylas explains, there’s a fine line between a pleasant interaction with compliments and harassing words that are disrespectful in nature.
“Rather than taking the route of trying to criminalize behavior, I think we need to focus on a cultural shift, changing attitudes so that we see each other as individuals to be respected rather than objects to harass,” Skoczylas said.
Sophomore finance major Casey Maher experienced catcalling in Oakland one night in
August. She walked to upper campus to meet with friends to watch a movie, but a friend
made a last-minute cancellation. Maher found herself alone in an unfamiliar place.
“Some guys pulled up next to me in a car and started yelling things out the window, like,
‘hey girl, get in the car, let us give you a ride,’” Maher said. “It made me feel really
uncomfortable and I had my hand on my phone to call the police.”

Carolyn Helenski, a sophomore communication science and disorders major, has
experienced catcalling in multiple cities. She recalls an instance with her mom in
Philadelphia that was particularly memorable, saying it was very degrading.
“One time I was in Philly with my mom for the afternoon, and a young guy was with his
friends on the street,” Helenski said. “When my mom and I walked by he said, ‘look at that nice, tight pussy in those pants.’’’
In this uncomfortable position, Helenski had an urge to stand up to the man, but her mom told her to act as if nothing had happened and just continue walking.
“Catcalling isn’t pretty when someone is trying to embarrass or harass you,” Helenski said.
“I went to say something, but [my mom] told me to just keep walking — which frustrated
me because a woman I look up to more than anyone didn’t feel comfortable standing up for herself or me.”

Other women in Oakland have experienced harassment from older men, not just fellow
college students.  Close Morgan, a junior who asked her last name be omitted for privacy, was walking back from her class in the Chevron Science Center when she stumbled into one such case as she passed a few construction workers on the sidewalk.
“As I got closer to them, I noticed that the one guy was staring at me,” she said. “Right as I
walked by, the guy who had been looking at me a little too long turned his head and said
‘hey beautiful,’ and watched me as I kept walking down the street.”
Morgan said she didn’t think much of the situation — she just smiled and continued
walking down O’Hara Street to Fifth Avenue, enjoying the compliment she was given.
“What was initially nice became super creepy when I was stopped at the crosswalk by
Thackeray,” Morgan said. “The same man popped his head out of the passenger side of a
white pickup truck and said, for the second time, ‘hey beautiful’ as his buddy kept driving.”
To avoid another encounter with the man, Morgan ended up taking the longest route
possible to get to her destination — an inconvenience for her to feel safe.
While Marshall continues to take her chances striking up conversations with strangers, she said she draws the line between friendliness and street harassment at a stranger’s ability to read context clues on a situation.
“I’m not trying to say that no one should talk to anybody else,” Marshall said. “I am saying that you need to respect my privacy, and that includes no shouting, no name calling.”
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12 Moms Share Gross Stories Of Getting Catcalled While With Their Kids

A couple of months ago I posted a photo art representation of the different types of women who have and are catcalled by predatory black males.  These are athletic, religious clad, pregnant, women with children, professional women to name a few.  It was the traditional argument that men were to protect women, but America has regressed in which the average American woman needs protection FROM certain males, i.e. the predatory vagrants.

There was a recent news article published in the Huffington Post regarding street harassment in which mothers share their stories of being street harassed while out in public with their children:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/12-moms-share-gross-stories-of-getting-catcalled-while-with-their-kids_us_59414a7ce4b003d5948c8270

06/15/2017 04:34 pm ET

12 Moms Share Gross Stories Of Getting Catcalled While With Their Kids

“Did you know your mother’s hot?”

Juanmonino via Getty Images
I was totally unaware being catcalled while with your children is so incredibly common.

I was once catcalled while wearing my son in a baby carrier. I guess the presumed presence of my body underneath the baby strapped to my torso was apparently good enough for the guy who shouted at me as I was on the way to daycare one day.

Another time, my harasser used my son as the middle man, directing his “You’ve got a beautiful Mommy, you know that?” to the stroller I pushed in front of me. “NO!” I thought but didn’t say because I tend to avoid the uncertainty of conflict in these situations. “You don’t get to use my son to catcall me!”

We’re entering summer, which for many women and non-binary people is when street harassment escalates. It’s always unpleasant, but it may be even more unpleasant and jarring when it happens in the company of your children.

I didn’t know this was a common experience until I started asking. Just as every woman I know has a story of some guy harassing her, so do many mothers had a story of being harassed while out with their children. Some of them are almost amusing in their sheer nerve, some are shudder-inducing, and they unanimously make you want to say, “Ugh.”

Below, 12 women speak out on what the experience is like.

1. “He suggested to the kids that mommy should give him her number.”

I had a guy follow my children and I into the parking lot of a grocery store telling me how beautiful I was and asking for my number. He suggested to the kids that mommy should give him her number. I considered backing up over him with my car. ― Jamie Lechner

2. “What a cutie! And the baby’s not too bad either!”

I was carrying my 9-month-old through the parking lot of a department store to my car and a man was staring at us for an uncomfortably long amount of time, enough to make me pick up my pace and avoid eye contact. Then he yelled, “What a cutie! And the baby’s not too bad either!” He thought he was so funny. Ugh. ― Brie Riley

3. “I want my daughters to know that they can speak up for themselves and that it is not OK with me for strangers to comment on my body.”

Summers are always the worst for catcalling but it gets even worse when my kids are in tow. Men feel they can comment on my tattoos whenever they feel like it and when it does happen, I ignore them or tell them to stop speaking to me. It’s important to do this in front of my daughters because I do not want them growing up feeling like they can be objectified.

I want my daughters to know that they can speak up for themselves and that it is not OK with me for strangers to comment on my body. Hopefully it rubs off on them. ― Jennifer Clark

4. “I have been catcalled at 7 months pregnant.”

If it counts, I have been catcalled at 7 months pregnant (and VERY visibly so, I was wearing a dress which proudly showed the bump!). I was most confused ― did the man saying “Hey sexy mama” and making crude gestures think I was going to haul my large pregnant self into his white van and have sex with him?! ― Ayesha Jeary

5. “I can be his daddy.”

A few years ago, I was walking with my 2-year-old son when a man walked up to us and leered, “I can be his daddy.” We ducked into a restaurant. Thankfully, he was too little to notice. I just ignored the man. Nowadays, we have an open dialogue about how we treat girls and women. ― Sara Heistand

6. “He was so confused as to why mommy went from cheerful to fearful in seconds.”

I was leaving a large retail store at the anchor end of a mall with my son. We were laughing and I was swinging my bags in one hand and holding his with the other while he skipped, as we crossed the lane and into the parking lot. It was dusk and I hear a man whistle and shout. I was so used to it that I automatically stiffened up and picked up my pace, without acknowledging it. I was practically dragging my son by the time the man caught up to us and started asking to “be friends” and saying how “handsome” my son is.

I moved away briskly and he picked up his own pace and asked if I “wanted company this weekend.” I was almost running now so he stopped and then proceeded to shout “Ugly, b*tch, high on yourself” at my back, followed by more name-calling and slurs. I covered my son’s ears and jumped in the car. He was so confused as to why mommy went from cheerful to fearful in seconds and the vibe of our fun, late afternoon had totally changed.

I waited for 10 minutes before getting back out of my SUV to get my son situated in his car seat; he was only 3 1/2 at the time. (There are more instances but that one stuck out in my memory most because it was the most frightened I ever was with my son present.) ― Kasandra Powell

So You Want To Raise A Feminist?
Start here, with the latest stories and news in parenting.

7. “And that, my fellow feminists, is how you sexualize a fetus.”

When I was pregnant with my first child, a random stranger told me that if the baby was a boy he’s be a lucky little sod sucking on those tits. And that, my fellow feminists, is how you sexualize a fetus. ― Nesta May

8. “I wear my daughter all around our hood and stay getting hit on.”

I wear my daughter all around our hood and get hit on. My husband thinks dudes don’t realize I have a baby in there and one guy actually told me that. But I don’t buy it. What the hell else would be in this OBVIOUS baby carrier? A bowling ball?

And pregnancy catcalls were also a thing but thinly veiled as “compliments” like “Oh you look good girl” and “Wish I was the daddy.” I walked to work until the end and got not shortage of street harassment. ― Helena Andrews-Dyer

9. “You just had to have it, didn’t you?”

I was pushing my twins in a stroller when they were about 18 months old when an older man leered at us and said “You just had to have it, didn’t you?” I had no idea what he was talking about and said “What?” He replied, “Oh the thing that gets you two babies born so close together,” and then winked at me.

They are boy/girl twins and don’t look much alike so he probably thought I had gotten pregnant again very soon after giving birth to the first. Either way, I was really grossed out and mumbled something about them being twins and got the hell out of there.  ― Kelly Wilson Bossley

10. “It just feels particularly unkind.”

I’ve gotten pregnant catcalled and every time I’m just like WHAT??! I give them a look or say something to the effect of “Are you fucking serious?” I mean, I guess it’s no more or less offensive than regular catcalling ― pregnant bodies are beautiful and it can look sexy I guess. It just feels particularly unkind. ― Melissa Petro

11. “Did you know your mother’s hot?”

The worst was once when we were waiting for the subway and some dude leered at me and then said to my kid, “Did you know your mother’s hot?”

I just ignored him because I’m always scared about escalating stuff. Later when my son asked me about it I just said, “We live in a really messed up culture that thinks women’s bodies are public property.” ― Anne Thériault

12. “I feel so uneasy when I’m catcalled while with my kids.”

I was once catcalled on my way to the pool with my two young daughters. The man was driving while I was walking. I ignored him and turned left onto a one-way street. He drove in reverse down the one-way street still catcalling to me and trying to get me to give him my number. My daughters were 2 and 4 at the time. This was in NYC. I was terrified!

Even for a NYC street, there was no one else around. I thought he was going to kidnap us. My daughters didn’t ask me anything and I didn’t tell them anything either. They don’t remember thankfully.

However, I feel so uneasy when I’m catcalled while with my kids. Almost like the only reason they’re catcalling me is because I have children. Almost like I’m an easy target or prey. Maybe I’m overthinking it but it feels like it’s my kids some of these men are after. ― Doris Villegasfor clarity.