As women we've all experienced catcalling and street harassment. Sometimes its mild and sometimes its extremely vulgar. When its bad and I'm in a particularly bad mood I wish I could pull a sawed-off shotgun out from under my floral dress, point it at the lowlife and say, "not so pretty now am I!" but in reality I can't do this. So I will share with you some tips and tricks to get out of the situation as quickly and as passively as possible because sometimes it can be hard.
Some parts of London are worse for it, Dalston is dreadful, stay away if wearing even a half-revealing knee length dress, in fact stay away even if wearing a bin bag over your head because I'm sure you'd get someone shouting "I'd bang you, bin-bag lady". I've heard Westerfield shopping centre in Stratford has a mob that split up and follow women around who are shopping alone and try to get their phone numbers by either offering to help with carrying bags or follow them from shop to shop persistently making kissing noises.
It always baffles me why they even do it. Do they have some kind of testosterone induced Turrets? Does it make them feel manlier, like revving up their masculinity? They certainly would never get anyone's number from doing it. I don't see how they can think we like it. It's either annoying, intimidating or embarrassing depending on the situation. It's especially scary at nighttime while walking alone and I wonder why they'd want to scare the living daylights out of me.
They seem to think we are perhaps asking for it for dressing alluringly. I can't speak for all women, but I like to dress in short playsuits and circle skirts in the summer because I like people to think I look good. I want to celebrate femininity and be appreciated for it in a civilised manner.
Here's some tactics to help manage catcalling-
Pretend to be Deaf.
My favourite tactic but you have to grit your teeth while doing it, and sometimes is worrying because you may antagonize them even more if you don't answer their questions. Just walking a bit faster should get you out of the firing zone.
Laugh and Agree with them.
If you feel in a chirpier mood and they are in a car and unable to follow you, you can simply laugh and thank them in an aloof manner that doesn't encourage them even more.
The Phone Fortress.
If they are trying seriously hard to engage you in a conversation you can create a fortress by pretending to call someone on your mobile. This means you can ignore then without antagonizing them, because you have a legitimate reason to ignore them, i.e. you are on the phone to someone.
Jump into the Nearest Shop.
If they follow you in you can tell the person at the counter they are harassing you and they will be asked to leave. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't wait for you outside. I've never experienced anything this extreme but you never know with some of the nut-jobs out there. You just have to feel sorry for them.
Who knows ladies, when we are 65, we will probably miss these comments, and remember them with fondness thinking of how smoking we used to be. Until then I guess it is one of the things we have to put up with as women, but winter will come soon enough and we can hide behind fur collars.
If you want to share a particular experience you have had you can post it on http://everydaysexism.com/