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The Unknown Truth of Catcalling

Updated on August 14, 2018


Catcalling has been in existence since the advent of streets, however, for a long time, the problem has been overlooked. In the present day, women and men are continually competing for equal admittance in public space- an area where we were culturally conditioned to believe that only belongs to men. The tactics used by men in intimidating women when they demanded the rights for owning property and voting are the same tactics men are using to oppress women's right presently, the only difference is that men have learned to be more overt. As a result, women have been forced to fear public spaces.

Catcalling and any other form of street harassment chiefly perpetrated by men is about power, and nothing to do with sexual attraction. Catcalling is a problem prevalent in virtually every part of the world. An objective discussion of this disturbing social phenomenon often raises the question of, "The contribution of women in fueling this problem- particularly, their dress code."

Exploring this subject critically from the viewpoint of a feminist and on the background of the Foucaldian and Lacanian theory reveals that women's dressing is an excuse used by the perpetrators of this form of sexual harassment to justify their behavior. Because of the inadequacy of research on this controversial topic, it is important to give voice to the women who have had the misfortune of experiencing this form of harassment, its negative emotional and psychological effects, and the individuals who perceive this as a societal issue (O'Leary, 2016).

"Yes means yes, and no means no- regardless of what we are wearing, or where we go!"

The above statement has been chanted innumerably by feminists for a long time. I have never had any doubts about the fact that it is supposed to describe how things should be; however, I wonder if it describes how things are. In a different parlance, does the woman's dressing affect her likelihood of being sexually harassed? Anecdotal evidence seems to prove that it is surprisingly hard to determine the impact of revealing dressing in street harassment.

Research shows that a considerable percentage of both women and men believe that a woman is more likely to face street harassment if she is dressed in more revealing clothing. In some parts of the world, this belief is strengthened by the association of revealing dressing with immorality and moral decadence influenced by the Western world (Byfield, 2012). However, is this assumption true? Answering that is even harder.

By and large, in the society, a majority of the proponents of modesty assume that women who wear revealing clothes are seeking attention. That casual oversimplification and generalization is not only ignorant and unfortunate but also erroneous. Women choose their clothing based off of a spectrum of factors, which include but not limited to: the clothing's comfort, functionality, visual appeal, and fabric, mental and emotional state. All these aspects of women's clothing appetite are fine since they are basically facets of who we are as humans. Therefore, the assumption that women walk around dressing in revealing clothes just to get attention is absolutely wrong and absurd (Marie, 2015).

According to Theresa M. Beiner, there is definitely more to street harassment than sexual attraction invoked by revealing dressing, if it actually arouses it in the first place (2017). Beiner notes that the society's rules of evidence proscribe the discussions of how women's dressing or behaviors in the cases of a street and sexual harassment unless their use outweighs the danger of causing harm to the victim.

"Revealing dressing" is subjective and not definitive; however, it provides a totally logical argument as to who is more likely to face sexual harassment. From Beiner's exploration of this topic, I'm confident of the fact that revealing dressing is not a considerable factor in a street and sexual harassment. Therefore, it is absolutely absurd to blame a woman for dressing in clothes that give her the feelings of empowerment and confidence because of some wayward individual's actions towards women.

Simply put, women should not change their way of dressing so as to curb some immature acts of errant people in the society. As a society, we need to re-educate ourselves on gender equality, and respect and freedom for both genders. We need re-education that women have the right to dress in whatever they choose and want. Women's wants do not have to be constrained due to the fact that society is too rigid and inflexible to accommodate them. Additionally, society needs to be re-educated on the women's right to use public space without fear of harassment (Perera, 2018).


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    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      7 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      "Therefore, the assumption that women walk around dressing in revealing clothes just to get attention is absolutely wrong and absurd (Marie, 2015)."

      Then why do hookers, and prostitutes wear the clothes they wear?

      And why does any woman choose the clothes they wear?


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