catcall: the reflection

Data Dumping
4 min readAug 7, 2021

The last time I was approached by a man for a bout of sexual romping, I feel the need to recall my outfit as if that was the sole reason he would have chosen to be vulgar in his approach to me. That in itself bothers me. Why is my clothing choice the factor in how I am approached? Why can my energy not be the allure or the style of my hair? Why do my clothing choices need to reflect my sexual status? I know in some aspect that visual coding in marking individuals that are practitioners of the sexual arts comes from the Roman era and has been used to quickly demonize the members of this field. Yet the double standards of what is offered as fashionable wear ‘borrow’ from this space making it elitist desirable yet not removing it from the demonized space it comes from.

But sidebar aside, this catcall is the ethos of this dialogue. I marked this date in my personal/public photo journal as a part of my annual summer check-off list. A lurid suggestion that I would be offended enough to enter a dialogue with the offender or even treat them as an offender. It is my position to reflect before I act in most cases. When I was enduring the torture of my ascension, this was my constant stance- pause and reflect before I commit to an action. It is my stance when my neighborhood leerer would openly suggest that his catering to my needs would be pleasurable in other ways outside of the bed as he would have me as a part of his existence. I curtailed these advances by hiding behind the protection of age and enjoyed his variant of polite behavior in this space- longing for someone he is not supposed to long for.

Why did I need to retort to this when my polite declines of his advances were not enough? Did he think his consistent sallys would wear down my aversion to his offerings? I did not take the time to ask. I was not interested and he was not willing to respect that or find out why to process my rejection of him and move on into a silent admiration or no longer watch for me as my daily routines did not have me lingering in his eyesight longer than 90 seconds a day. I took it objectively then and I do now- catcalling of this type is apart of his upbringing and changing it would take effort I am not willing to give. Part of me ponders if him engaging in this behavior recalls a fonder time of doing this with his friends as a bonding activity in the way young women will collectively bond over their love for members of a boy band.

Permit yourself to marinate on that. There are overlaps in how each group is approached- men are joined by their chosen ‘brothers’ to use brusque behaviors to gear each other up to approach women and to observe and reflect on their physical preferences. Women gather with their chosen ‘sisters’ to admire the member of a curated musical group and pour over their physical attributes, articles obtaining various elements of their personality and the lyrics they sing to determine what they like about their chosen ‘mate’ in this safe space. When looking at things from that space, men are not able to go beyond the physical acquisition space in this relationship build practice. Even in gamer culture, the games that include relationships are built on fetch quests instead of conversations about each other in some aspect.

So I look back at the summer check-off and sigh. It used to be more frequent in my 20s. Now it is an annual thing in certain communities I walk through. I take that 45-second encounter and opt not to work up enough energy to pour into a cup of disdain. In my mind, this is how he learned to acquire women- to bombard them with sexual advances until one pulls a harsh maternal stance to lambast the offending party and conversely allow him to ‘make it up’ to her in some capacity. At least, that is what I think the hope is for people that continue in this way of self-fulfilling torment to their relationship endeavors.

But now, I will be marking these encounters from within a relationship. And that makes these passive observations of such encounters stink in the eyes of my soulmate. To my relationship, tolerance will not be permitted and any continued offense will need to be addressed. I have never been in a relationship where this was an issue beyond a passing comment. So the neighbor’s frequency would be a daily irritant if one of us had a pursuer that ignored our relationship markers. I just look at the efforts of the catcall a waste of effort if one does not learn quickly that they do not offer the response of a romantic opportunity. Continuing this practice with other chosen ‘brothers’ may bring up fond memories of the simple chase when a number and a kiss were the accolades but beyond the traditional college age, this practice is going to be met with indifference, police involvement or open disregard. And that is something one should ponder on.

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