Is catcalling really a clueless call for attention?
“This American Life” made me wonder why anti-catcalling stories fall on deaf ears
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on April 24, 2022.
I was walking around downtown Chicago and I saw him — 6'5, muscular, Kit Kat complexion, light facial hair, and wearing one of those M&M race car jackets that were stylish in hip-hop at the time. I looked at him. He looked at me. I kept looking at him but walked in the opposite direction. The two of us continued on our own paths. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I could see M&Ms again.
I looked up. He looked down. I smiled. He said, “Hello.” And that was all it took. I dated him for a few months, and it was a very good time (give or take a few arguments). A few weeks ago, I was flipping through an old photo album and did a double-take on his photos; I’d forgotten what he looked like and remembered him by name only. I thought back to when I showed my great great aunt his pic, and she went, “Mmph!”
Shortly after I met him, I had the bright idea to whiten my teeth. I still don’t know why, but teeth whitener turns my teeth yellow. I was furious. I could make my teeth yellow for free! I called my dentist to get all that teeth whitener scraped off so they could go back to what they used to look like, an imperfect white. But a few days before my appointment was scheduled, he sized up my mouth during a Metra train ride and said, “You’re still pretty either way.”
My favorite part of that story isn’t his physical appearance, him cheering me up for my yellow teeth nor that we dated at all. It was how he approached me initially. It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t loud. It didn’t cause any scenes. It was calm, cool and paying attention to my behavior. It was not that unbearable catcalling method that (some) men like so much.