I was first catcalled when I was fourteen. I was walking back home from school. No, it was not a lone, narrow alley in dim light. It was a busy roadside. There were people everywhere. In cars, on bikes, pedestrians who were walking on the roadside as I did. I knew I was judged by the way they looked at me. Yeah. I get it. It is ‘my mistake’ if a total stranger whistles at me. But, funny enough, I didn’t even feel harassed at all. In fact, at that age, I didn’t realize I was catcalled actually. I simply thought they whistled at me because I was pretty. At least, that’s what they said. I was a child who never knew how to respond to compliments although I appreciate them, silently. So, when I was trying so hard to not to look at them..in my heart, I was happy. I was happy that a total stranger whistles at me and calls me ‘pretty’.
As the amount of catcalling grows, that small pinch of happiness turned into fear. Men from sundry stores, lorry drivers, seniors from school and the list kept going on. I start to wonder – Why you have to whistle and call names at us? Why you don’t do it to boys? Why it have to be girls? Is calling us ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ a good thing and does it make you feel good about yourself? How if your mother/sister/girlfriend/daughter is catcalled? Does that make you happy? I was not allowed to curse at that age and I took that notion seriously. If I can say anything to them and that would be, FUCK OFF! They were asking for it. I was seventeen and I am aware that I am a fully grown lady and the fear of getting harassed by every men I know and I don’t know build up in me. I often find myself insecure around male counterparts. Yes, even my father. And,I hated myself for that. I remember, every time a guy whistles from his bike or rides his bike close to me, I would just stop ,clutch onto my bag as tight as I can and I was ready to scream if he lands his hands on me.
Now: All that has made me a stronger person. As for my perception on my father, I was young and dumb. My father is the greatest hero ever and it was my mistake to put him in the same basket of those ‘roadside Romeos’. For you, filthy catcallers, who the hell are you to comment on my body? Why I have to smile to you? Please, if you think catcalling makes you macho and superior in any way…Sorry to break this to you, bro…YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! You need to get a life and do something beneficial with it. Finally, Dear Girls/Ladies/Women, You are pretty in every way, catcalled or not. Don’t let them to validate who you are. Don’t look at them when they whistle at you. You are a human being, not a DOG and street harassment is a tract to physical harassment. Remember, self empowerment starts with you and only you.