As temperatures continue to rise, and less clothing is worn to combat the heat, Clevelanders are sure to experience a spike in catcalling and other forms of street harassment.
As we've previously discussed on Scene
, catcalling in Cleveland is not an isolated incident. Sarah Vulpio's article "I'm Just Trying to Get to Work, Stop Looking at My Butt and Asking for Spare Change
" is a brilliantly hilarious analysis of the street harassment she experienced on East 4th Street.
And she's far from alone in her experience. This morning, I was pumping gas in Cleveland when I noticed a man approaching me out of the corner of my eye. "Please just let me pump gas, please just let me pump gas, please just let me pump gas," I repeated over and over inside my head. Unfortunately, after nearly 28 years on this planet, I knew there was no way this dude was going to leave me alone.
“HEY! YO GIRL! YO GIRL! I’M TALKIN’ TO YOU."
I paid him no attention.
"GIRL! WHAT THAT MOUTH DO?! HEY GIRL!"
I kept my eyes locked on the gas pump and said nothing. In my head, I was trying to figure out how I'd actually answer that question. What that mouth do? Well, mostly eat Pop-Tarts and say things that disappoint my parents, but thanks for asking.
"NEVERMIND, FUCK YOU! YOU FAT ANYWAY, BITCH!"
And there it is.
Especially in larger cities like Cleveland, it's easy for a person to yell something at a woman and then quickly disappear. The false-sense of anonymity of hiding in plain view allows individuals to harass without fear of punishment, confrontation or retribution.
And sure, there are plenty who will cry out "But it's a compliment!"
First things first, catcalling is not a compliment
. Full stop. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.
Are there female identifying individuals who feel flattered or enjoy being catcalled? Yes. But they are in the overwhelming minority as most women cite
street harassment as a downright terrifying experience.
Rather than cling to the small number of people that are okay with you screaming "DAMN, YOU GOT A FINE ASS!" while they're trying to pick out produce, perhaps find a different approach to start a conversation.
Two weeks ago, Cara Corrigan from Columbus was so fed up with the amount of street harassment she was experiencing, she created a hotline to allow women a safe opportunity to tell catcallers they're being terrible without putting themselves at risk.
If you are catcalled, you may have the urge to scream back at these ass clowns for being inappropriate, but as many people already know, rejecting men can have deadly consequences
"There have been several instances where you don’t answer the person, and then they yell and call you a 'bitch,'" Corrigan told the Inquirer
. "I’ve had people follow me or yell at me from their cars and then pull to the side of the road and roll down their windows and ask why I’m not talking to them. I have friends who’ve been grabbed, so I don’t know if they’re going to try to grab me or something."
Anyone who calls or texts the number (267) 603-1172 will get an in-your-face education about perpetuating street harassment. Corrigan even created a template (see Facebook post above) so women can print off little cards of paper with the number on it to avoid any personal contact.
As Corrigan told the The Daily Mail
, “This is unacceptable. It’s 80 degrees and I don’t want to feel I can’t wear short sleeves or a dress just so I can feel safe.”
We tested the hotline ourselves, and the text response (which is the same as the voicemail if you call the hotline) is pretty awesome.
BJ Colangelo | Street Harassment Hotline
The United States is pretty far behind in terms of handling street harassment, especially compared to Nottinghamshire County in England that recently classified street harassment as a hate crime
have a stalking law in place (Title 29, Section 2903 § 211) declaring it illegal for anyone to engage in a pattern of conduct that causes another person to believe the harasser will cause him or her physical harm or mental distress, but proving this in a court of law would be costly, timely and difficult.
Although women experience calling and street harassment at a higher rate than men, different demographics experience street harassment in varying degrees.
Men, especially those of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience street harassment in the form of violence
, as are women of color
. Transwomen and those that are gender non-conforming have a higher rate of being murdered
by someone that harasses them on the street.
Groups like the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) encourage
people to report all forms of street harassment as they say that "minor incidents, unchecked, can escalate into more hostile and violent forms of harassment."
According to The Ohio Civil Rights Commission
, Ohio experienced an increase in reports of sexual harassment and assault last year by 25 percent compared to 2016. However, it's difficult to determine whether there were more instances of harassment or if victims felt empowered by #MeToo and #TIMESUP and finally spoke out about the harassment they'd been experiencing.
Simply put, catcalling is disrespectful and is downright sexual harassment. Period. Rather than telling someone to "cover up" (despite warmer weather), perhaps accept that clothing has no bearing on whether or not someone "deserves" to be catcalled.
It's not a victim's job to stop street harassment, it's a societal change that needs to happen. Now.