Catcalling: A walk through Brussels

This was written in the summer of 2016

A couple of days ago I walked through Brussels, the capital of Belgium. The weather was nice and I had met up with a friend to eat some lunch. After that I walked for two hours through the city to shop and walk back to the bus stop. The amount of men, far from my age, who catcalled me during those 2 hours was absolutely ridiculous.

Yes, the weather was nice so I was wearing a jumpsuit. But my choice of clothing is no excuse for those men’s behaviour. I can’t even show the skin of my legs or people will comment on my appearance. You may think « just don’t wear ‘skin revealing’ clothes when you’re walking around then » But then you’re asking me to cover up instead of telling these men to mind their own business. Most men are using the argument of freedom of speech as an excuse for catcalling, but then again: you want to take away my freedom to dress how I want? I’ll be honest, at one point I felt scared and was walking as fast as I could. I didn’t want to wait for the bus, I wanted to be home immediately.

The last couple of years catcalling has appeared more often in the media. Not always in a good way, because people are still making fun of women, but at least there is some discussion. Different videos show women walking down the streets and getting comments left and right. The comment sections of these videos are always filled with very different opinions.

I get that not all men understand why we don’t like being catcalled. They might think it’s a compliment, but the majority of women see catcalling as harassment. I heard a guy say: « if you have a nice body, then why can’t I say something about it ? » Because it is still MY body. When guys say inappropriate stuff, we get a feeling that our body isn’t ours anymore. We don’t dress ourselves for other men. We don’t dress to get your ignorant comment.

Another person in the comments said that the grown up thing to do as a woman is to talk back and don’t just take those comments without saying anything. I’m sorry, but catcalling happens to girls starting from the age of 13 (or even younger). Do you really think that a 13 year old girl can just talk back to a 30 year old pervert who felt the need to call her hot? We want people to understand that catcalling isn’t fun so that they won’t do it anymore. Cursing at a guy isn’t going to make a difference. And to be honest, I’m already on edge, I don’t want that man to follow me.

So even though it has been in the media pretty often, I still don’t think things have changed much. But what needs to happen is a mentality change, and obviously those things take time.

I just hope that my generation and the generations after that will realise that catcalling isn’t a compliment and is sexual harassment.

Please keep those things for yourselves and let a girl walk past you in peace.

Have a nice day/night!

Sarah

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