Sexist pickup line: Catcalling is not an expression of male dominance

By Dr. Dorothea Flogger
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Sexist pickup line: Catcalling is not an expression of male dominance

Red card for sexist pickup line

Catcalling or cat-calling can be translated into German as “cat-calling”. It is the modern colloquial English term for lewd shouts, sexist slogans, intrusive whistling, snapping and similar sounds in public. This behavior by men towards women is a variant of sexualized verbal harassment.

Since the term can also be understood as “calling a cat to you”, criticism comes up more often. The accusation is based on the fact that the street nuisance is trivialized in this meaning. What man actually still believes to compliment a woman with “Wow, hot ass!”? Such a statement is nothing more than an impertinence! More and more men are also finding that there urgently needs to be an end to any form of catcalling. They distance themselves from the guys who harass women with street harassment or sexist messages.

Catcalling has nothing to do with coolness

Sexistische Anmache: Catcalling ist kein Ausdruck männlicher DominanzMiss Piggy from “The Muppet Show” once expressed that a catcall on the road would lead to a pothole. A groundbreaking statement, but of course hard to implement for most women who have to deal with a sexist come-on. Often they feel helpless and do not know how to defend themselves most effectively against offensive remarks, messages or obscene gestures. Some women suffer so badly from every catcall that they barely dare to walk past a group of construction workers or enter a pub alone. Guys whistling after female joggers has long been a bad stereotype. It is unfortunately noticeable that already very young boys have the sexist pick-up line, the catcalling, on it. In a group, they even dare to annoy adult women with stupid pick-up lines.

Unfortunately, sexist come-ons are part of everyday life from young girls to mature women. Men are rarely bothered with it. There is already a petition advocating to prosecute catcallers. A social media account denounces the offenders. Perhaps these are the measures that will bring patterers and untalented pick-up artists to their senses? Nowadays, saying “Ey Schnecke” or “Hey sweetie” will only get you into trouble – or you’ll be coldly overlooked. Anyone who thinks sexist come-ons are an expression of male superiority is dead wrong.

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On top of that, he makes a fool of himself or is considered an unreconstructed jackass. A wide variety of media outlets portray the sexist come-on as unacceptable in any form. Women are to be encouraged to take a courageous stand against catcalling. But in many cases that is easier said than done. Because especially when the verbal attack comes from a group, even quick-witted ladies are speechless. To which many question whether women should even bother to replicate. Rather, some psychologically trained experts advise punishing the offender(s) with disrespect. But is that really enough?

Catcalls do not only take place on the street

Sexistische Anmache: Catcalling ist kein Ausdruck männlicher DominanzSexist come-ons of all kinds don’t just come spontaneously from anonymous “admirers.” Colleagues, sports mates, neighbours, relatives – every woman has probably experienced insolence such as hisses, whistles or insinuating remarks. Supervisors and bosses often can’t control themselves and get carried away with ambiguous remarks. Sometimes it’s the smile, sometimes it’s the clothes, and other times it’s the employee’s figure, which they comment on with dubious compliments. Such incidents at work occur easily among men in higher positions. Few women have the courage to put a verbally pushy boss in his place. He’s probably very aware of that. However, if she resists, she may expose herself to misogyny in the worst form or bullying.

It is unflattering for a woman to be seen as an object rather than a person. The excuse that a sexist come-on is only meant well has had its day. Anyone who gawks penetratingly and judges a woman’s appearance aloofly has not heard the shot. The richly naive question of whether a guy today is not even allowed to tell a woman that she looks great is also from the day before yesterday. At any rate, no one can talk their way out of it on the grounds of freedom of expression.

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Catcallers should realize that no one has to put up with a crude sexist come-on. Many a man with an excess of testosterone would fly into a rage if his girlfriend, sister or mum were the target of sexist come-ons. In several European countries catcalls are already prohibited by law.

How unimaginative to reduce a female to her looks without her consent and make a sexual connection. No one asks if it’s okay with the woman. No one takes notice when she shows her discomfort. And no one seems to care what she thinks and feels and dreams about. Only her shell seems to matter to the guys who want to impress or embarrass her with a catcall.

How to deal with catcalling?

Sexistische Anmache: Catcalling ist kein Ausdruck männlicher DominanzWomen take the sexist come-on differently. For some, it is an unpleasant everyday occurrence. Others feel seriously insecure. They dress in a decidedly unobtrusive manner and choose subtle makeup, even though they prefer to wear heavy makeup. Annoyed almost every woman reacts to catcalls. But almost everyone also knows the problem that numerous men can’t be stopped from catcalling. These have become accustomed to the comments, whistles, smooches and worse as a way to boost their self-esteem. Therefore, it is not surprising that especially such men who are not particularly well received by the female sex or have little success in other areas of life are noticed by sexist pick-up lines.

Women who see through these connections can think about whether and how they want to fight back against catcallers. They need ideas on how to, in turn, alienate the guys and make them feel bad. However, there is no one optimal tactic. Some women find it relatively easy to pass up a sexist come-on. Others do not want to refrain from confronting the offender about catcalling. The harassers also tick differently: some are spurred on by being overlooked, others feel irritated by it. Every woman should react in the way that suits her nature, because that is how she comes across most authentically.

Sexismus in der Pornobranche? Gibt es das?

Ignoring a sexist come-on completely is often the easiest solution. Keep your head up, don’t make a face, and stride with dignity as if nothing had happened. That’s not a lesson for the catcaller, but it’s not an endorsement of his behavior either. If the woman chooses the option of confrontation, the rule is: address the perpetrator and ask him to stop catcalling. This clearly takes courage. It is important that the rejection is direct, firm and in a loud voice.

Some women prefer to follow the expert advice of responding to a sexist come-on and catcalling with a song. To whistle or sing gives a powerful feeling. The harasser is surprised by this reaction and may be upset. Questions like “What’s the point?” are to be avoided at all costs. Politely asking to stop the sexist come-on is unlikely to be effective. Hesitancy and blatant embarrassment can confirm wrongdoers in their actions. They may even feel prompted to continue and amplify the sexist come-on.

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