I can understand all the confusion and arguments that have arisen from the topic of Catcalling. You might think it’s insulting to women or you might think it’s a compliment. The reality is that without understanding what you are doing, or simply generalizing an act, you can’t really make a proper judgment call on this, or any, topic. So with that in mind, let’s look at Catcalling/Complimenting.
I’m not here to shame you into behaving, we get that way too often by other people. Way to often I am seeing men dismiss it, saying that it’s a compliment and women should be glad they get the attention. Other men react disgusted by it, but their explanation sounds way to often like a pre-rehearsed script written for them to avoid social shaming. With that in mind I want to handle the subject from a practical, nonjudgmental standpoint.
First off, what’s catcalling? Taking away all the subjective and qualitative aspect, it’s a person openly calling out another person to get their attention. Why do some people catcall? Supposedly to compliment the other person. I say supposedly because that’s not what happens, from a practical perspective.
Let’s say your intention is trying to get the attention of a woman you want to meet. So you openly call her out on her beauty. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? In a way it is. You called the attention of everyone around you to her. You just threw her in a spotlight she wasn’t either interested in or prepared for. Think of it as yelling out “Hey everyone, look at her!” while shining a big stoplight on her as she is surrounded by complete strangers. You might not mind it, but she might. And you just didn’t care if she did or didn’t, you openly told her you don’t care what she thinks, because her only purpose is to amuse you.
Things kind of start taking a different perspective, right.
Now, let’s look at you. Yelling out a comment like that is little more than what a kid does when he yells out “Mom, look at me…mom, look no hands…mom, you’re not looking!” It’s a cry for attention and validation, be it from the lady or from the people around you. If you need that kind of validation, your problem is not that you catcall, but that you don’t value yourself enough. It also proves that you don’t have the self-confidence enough to walk up to her, the self-confidence to risk rejection. How exactly where you planning to talk to her afterwards if you can’t even get the courage to walk up to her?
And this is just with those “non-offensive” catcalls. When you step into the realm of vulgarity, you are basically letting her know that you view her as little more than a replacement for your own hand. At this point you are also letting her know what kind of man you are and what she can expect if she responds. This isn’t about compliments any more, but about openly demeaning her and threatening her. At this point, you crossed the boundary between a misguided guy making a social faux pas, and dove head in into the rapist mentality.
Please reconsider your life path.
But let’s say you still want to say hello, or to tell her she’s beautiful, or simply to be civil. Guess what? You have options.
First consider how many idiots, assholes, and just plain stupid people there are in the world. Don’t worry; I’ll wait till you think about this…
Now ask yourself how a complete stranger knows you are not one of them? “She shouldn’t judge me without knowing me!” Why not? You did it to her. You don’t know what’s going on with her, what her story is. Your attitude proved this already when you expect her to consider your comment. Your comment and your reaction became your first impression.
The second thing you have to consider is how to get rid of the spotlight effect. If your action calls out the attention of everyone around you, or calls attention to her, you are spotlighting. That’s why so many guys react offended when the lady doesn’t reply or react positively. You placed yourself in a position where her rejection made you look bad. The reality is YOU placed YOURSELF in that situation, not her. So don’t blame her.
So if to say hello, or to comment or compliment, you need to raise your voice, you are spotlighting. If you want to tell her hello while she walks by, say hello in a civilized tone. Start with a smile to see if she is even paying attention. If she doesn’t respond, saying hello at this point is telling her “Look at me!” Again, you are not riding a bike, and she is not your mother.
Let’s say you want to tell her she is beautiful, attractive, or whatever other idea you might have that isn’t crass or reduces her to a plastic doll. First off, apologize for interrupting whatever she is doing. The reality is you are stepping into her world, and interrupting her life, even if it’s to give her a compliment. This simple act will let you know if the comment is welcomed. If she reacts negatively, apologize and walk away. No foul and no harm. Consider that you have no idea what she is doing, thinking, or going through. Or maybe she is just a bad person. It might be for the best.
If she responded negatively, please don’t press the issue. At that point you are proving it wasn’t about giving her a compliment, but rather about you giving a compliment. Again…Bike and mom looking.
So consider the reality of the situation. There is nothing wrong with a hello or a compliment. Just keep in mind that a compliment is only a compliment when it’s given like one.