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Cat-Calling: The College Epidemic

by Naila Smith

Have you ever gotten an unwanted number? Well I have, and let me tell you, it is not pretty. Especially when you are a feminine presenting person walking by yourself in the middle of the night.

I was clearly smaller and meeker than him. He carefully selected me as a target because he knew that I would not fight back. I was efficiently cornered.

Walking by myself was never an invitation for a man that I did not know to give me his number. Even though I was in a public space, surrounded by people, nobody did anything about it. They all just stood around watching it play out.

It was not like I could have said no to him. I had no idea if he would scream at me, take out a weapon, overpower me with his own strength or take rejection like a normal person. Besides, even if I had said no, nobody would back me up in my decision.

As soon as I got back to my dorm, I blocked the number, and I went to bed without a care in the world.

Cat-calling. We have all heard this term before; I mean you have to if you’ve ever been allowed onto a college campus.

Title IX is a law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

To be admitted into Montclair State University grounds, you have to take the Title IX course, and though everyone on campus completes Title IX, not many people seem to adhere to its guidelines.

I have had too many unwanted experiences of cat-calling since stepping foot on a college campus that I probably wouldn’t have gotten if I had decided to be off-campus.

According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), 81% of women have experienced cat-calling on their college campus, and so have 43% of men. Most people tend to have the misconception that cat-calling only happens to women which I personally believe is what makes people more accepting of it happening. But as the data supports, it does not only happen to women.

It does not matter what you look like, there is always the possibility of being cat-called. You could be a tall, well-built, cisgender man and I guarantee you that someone will have something weird to say.

Cat-calling changes as humans evolve, and unfortunately, come up with new forms of harassment. It went from just being wolf-whistled on the side of the road to being cornered on a street to being bothered on Snapchat.

Soon enough cat-calling will become even harder to spot and report. When using apps like Snapchat, it is hard to even tell who you’re talking to or receiving messages unless they personally decide to keep their information public. This is why it has become easier to harass others on social media.

No two people are the same. Some people who cat-call think that they are genuine compliments while others use it as a way to go further with someone. Both sides of the coin are completely wrong.

Cat-calling is not a compliment. If anything, it just makes the person that you are cat-calling feel gross about themselves. And no, cat-calling will not get you a date with that special someone that you see from across the street.

Instead of jumping straight into cat-calling, you should try to actually give a compliment, or get to know that person better. While boldness is a necessary trait in any social interaction, you need to know when to use it.

Mob mentality is one of the most driving factors of cat-calling.

As the saying goes, the person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. If cat-calling seems to appeal to your friends, it’s a red flag if they are into making people uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, all cat-calling is an insult, and if you have nothing nice to say maybe it is better that you did not say anything at all.

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