There is something so demeaning about being cat-called in the street. No, it’s not funny or even light-hearted, and it is most certainly NOT a compliment. It’s like being stripped naked in public: someone has (in front of a bunch of strangers) objectified you and let everyone know that they would totally have sex with you. That’s not a nice feeling – it’s more like a humiliating invasion of personal space.

I’m not sure how guys feel about being cat-called or whistled at by women, but I have tried to explain to a male friend why, as a woman, it is so awful to be called at like that. Perhaps it’s because, as a woman being called at by a guy (or a car full), there’s some kind of underlying threat that the ‘desire’ being ‘expressed’ (ahem) could be realized if the pack of wolf-whistlers so wished. Somehow I don’t think that if I licked my lips and told a guy his package looked particularly appealing it would be quite so threatening, although it may be embarrassing for some men. Anyway, it’s that threat which keeps me from retaliating, for fear of aggravating the pervert, when really I’d like to retort with a few choice words of my own and perhaps some appropriate hand gestures to match.

I think another reason it’s so demeaning is because it is just such a gratuitous act – it’s clearly not going to garner my interest, and I’m sure they know that, so why do it? It smacks of self-gratification and macho-manning (oh if only that were a real verb), of having to assert your dominance and masculinity by objectifying my body (which is MINE, let me remind you, so piss off).

The bottom line is that no, I don’t want to know what you think of my body/what activities you would like to engage in with me and I definitely didn’t want you to tell me in front of the whole street. So, sorry if I’m not too receptive to your, um, ‘advances,’ or whatever they are, but I’m not a piece of meat or item in a shop on display for your approval.

– Humphrey