The Amazing Catcalls I’ve Heard in San Francisco
Guest Post by Johanna M. Wolf Petersen
Offensive and off-putting, catcalls are oftentimes a daily part of a woman’s existence. Especially younger women like myself. What gives men the idea that this is something they should do to try to seduce a woman I don’t know. It must work for some of them sometimes, or maybe they like the reaction they get (maybe they get off to the disgust, anger, or freaked-out grimace of the pursued woman)…I’ve never stopped to ask my cat callers, and I don’t think I ever will.
Living in the diverse city of San Francisco has presented many more interesting catcalls than your typical “Hey pretty lady” and “Nice butt”, although those remain prevalent. It’s hard to have an angry outburst over a wacky catcall. It’s an uncomfortable mix of nausea and amusement. I just think, “Bless you, creepy man, for having the gumption to express that weird, gross thought of yours. Think of what you would become if you applied that gumption to other aspects of your life.”
My main mode of transportation around the city is by bike. Apparently this is provocative. One evening, I was riding home through the Richmond district (as you probably know, one of the more quiet, residential neighborhoods of SF). I stopped at a stop sign next to a car, and as the car pulled away, the front passenger yelled, “I wanted to slap your butt but the driver wouldn’t let me!” I was really glad he didn’t slap my butt but I was kind of glad that he let me know he was thinking about it, just because it’s funny in theory.
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This one was cute. I was about to cross the street in NOPA and I was poking my head around a parked car to make sure no cars were approaching. One pulled up and it surprised me a little bit. The driver leaned his head out the window saying, “Don’t worry beautiful, I got you!” I now feel safe biking in the presence of at least one driver in San Francisco…
Riding through the Tenderloin on a sunshiny day I got a gross one, “I wish I was that bike seat.” Eww.
I love walking around the city. This obviously puts one in direct contact of other pedestrians from all walks of life. Which is one of the cool parts about walking. But then, a man gives you a look of filthy desire and says something to you. It’s mostly really creepy and not fun, and I react to all the “How you doin” s out there besides by avoiding eye contact and speeding up…so it’s almost a feeling of relief when you get a more pleasant and unique comment.
In the Tenderloin again, I got a compliment on my outfit: “I like your tights, AND your shorts.”
Strolling through Lower Haight, a sweet pet name: “Hey there, little snowflake.”
Would a world where women do not get catcalled be a better place? Yes. But until men finally realize that it’s not ok, they should at least make their hollers laughable.
Wanna know how to help? Read our Guide to Fighting Street Harassment.
Johanna is from Fresno, CA and has been living in San Francisco for 7 years. She is your basic social human and likes plants, animals, outdoor activities, traveling, and cooking. She also likes books, the arts, and writing and drawing materials of questionable quality. Too large of a proportion of her limited income goes to SF’s pastry and coffee scene, her weakness.