A lot of men hang out on my street. Let’s face it: If you’re a dude, my street is where it’s at. But for whatever reason, women don’t really hang out there—-more often than not, they’re just passing through. And when they do, the men who hang out on my street notice. Out loud.
Most of the time, I’m pretty good at shrugging off street harassers. I ignore them, keep my eyes straight ahead, and keep walking. That goes for all of them: from those who bark loud, suggestive sex-grunts to those who offer a comparatively innocent “Morning, beautiful!” as I walk past. It’s easier just to ignore everything.
When the street in question is my own, however, the situation becomes trickier to navigate. Catcalls can be a lot freakier when the callers know where I live—-and take their hollerin’ only feet from my doorstep. Still, I don’t want to disrespect any of my neighbors who are just trying to offer me a pleasant “Hello.”
So, the question is this: When hollered at, how does one know when to holler back?
Here’s a handy guide to navigating the catcall jungle.
Catcaller No. 1: The guy who hangs out on the bench outside his apartment complex.
Hollerin’ time: 9 a.m.
Line: “Good morning!”
Report: This guy isn’t a catcaller; he’s just a guy who, like many of us, likes to hang out. I hope he has a good morning, too.
Response: In kind. “Good morning!”
Catcaller No. 2: The guys who work on the gutted townhouse two doors down from me.
Hollerin’ time: All the time!
Line: Anything, from “Baby-doll! [Wink]. Lookin’ good!” to “Hey! [Points to my lunch]. Is that my lunch? When’s lunch?”
Report: You guys talk at me so much, we’re almost buddies, so I feel bad just ignoring you. Listen: you all seem like nice dudes, but sometimes your comments are either (a) so borderline suggestive, or (b) so weird, that it’s difficult to know whether I should respond. I know you’ll say nearly anything to get a woman to pay attention to you—-why not try something about the weather?
Response: Awkward acknowledgment, in passing. “What? No, uh, this is … my lunch.
Catcaller No. 3: The guy leaning against the dumpster on the corner.
Hollerin’-time: 5 p.m. yesterday.
Line: “Pssssst! Pssssst! Meow! I’ve got a big, fat cock for you!”
Report: The condescending kitty noises are a nice creative flourish, but overall, girls don’t like a man who only talks about himself. Also, you’re disgusting.
Response: Ignore; post unfavorable review on local alternative weekly staff blog.
Help me out here: How else do we deal with this?