Catcalling: At school, on the street…it can happen anywhere


Fabiola Gomez created with Canva

Most girls have experienced some form of catcalling that puts them in uncomfortable situations.

One day last year, I walked towards Fremont Elementary to pick up my school lunch. On my way there, there was this group of men hanging out. As I was walking, I unconsciously started walking to avoid their stare, but that did not stop them from trying to get my attention and calling me out for what I was wearing. I picked up my lunch and started walking twice as fast as I initially did. On my way back home, I thought to myself, “I had never felt that uncomfortable in my life before.” It was a terrible feeling that I do not want to feel ever again. 

What I have experienced is called catcalling. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, catcalling is “the act of shouting, harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening, or derisive comments at someone publicly.” Unfortunately, I am not the only one who has experiences like this.

Going to school at a place like Santa Ana College where many people come and go, it is hard to avoid the shady people. At Middle College, many girls have experienced some sort of catcalling. Here are some instances where students describe their experiences:

“It was at the bus stop in front of school. This one time a man came out of the bus and made an inappropriate comment directed at me. I was a freshman at that time and if there hadn’t been more people around I wouldn’t have felt safe.” 

“There have been so many instances where this has happened. I have been catcalled walking into school and after school while walking to the bus stop. There have been other situations where men, college students, and other adults alike, have made suggestive comments or shouted unsavory things at myself and my friends as well.” 

Another instance I can recall is during dance practice after school; a man in a truck was passing by on the street and saw us practicing and whistled at us. He was far enough away that he could not see what we looked like but knew we were girls. I realized then, that it was a power that men typically feel when they whistle at girls. It is the fact that these people will get away with their actions not realizing it affects these female victims.

The average age that girls experience their first catcalling incident is around 13 to 14  years old. By the time girls are 17 years old, the average girl has been catcalled multiple times. As a female who has experienced this, the after effects of the situation feel awful. 

Many others feel the same way. 

“When I really sit down and think about it, it’s upsetting how often it happens. To not feel safe at school and be made uncomfortable when all I’m trying to do is get an education is something that should not be tolerated.”

A lot of people do not think about how girls feel after they experience this kind of behavior. One female might explain what happened, but usually no one asks the question, “Are you okay?”

According to the website Ditch the Label, “Research published in 2010 found a direct link between the experience of street harassment and a greater preoccupation with physical appearance and body shame as well as correlating it to heightened fears of rape.”

Catcalling is so common now that it is often overlooked. I hear stories that my female family members tell and they deem it as “normal” and laugh it off. Of course, this behavior affects women differently, but the fact that my family can laugh it off speaks volumes. Catcalling can take place anywhere including school campuses where students should feel safe. Girls should not have to cover up or walk faster when they are in an environment that is supposed to be made safe. Girls and women alike are human beings, not objects to admire.