“Dudlu ntombazana andithuki wena ndithuk’uthando….” You’re 12 years old and seeing your uncle charismatically compliment a woman. You’re too young to notice she’s not genuinely smiling. Rather, she’s uncomfortable, because the continuation of that sentence was not a compliment, but him objectifying and sexualizing her. You’re too young to know this and he’s a skyscraper and you look up to him – in your eyes he can do no wrong. You adopt this and you continue the cycle of catcalling. But you’re in your 20s now; you SHOULD know better.

Catcalling, whistling and yelling sexually suggestive things to a woman in passing, has been in our society for as long as we can remember seeing older men watch attractive women pass by. That it has been around for long does not make it right – it is a disgusting behaviour that shouldn’t be accepted in society. It makes women feel uncomfortable. I am a young man, and I understand wanting to approach a woman and possibly go out with them – but there’s a better way than from a distance shouting profanities that make her uncomfortable.

I once saw a disturbing video on Facebook of a young woman who was wearing a mini skirt and men were cat calling her and some even went as far as grabbing her behind and pulling up the skirt. As if that wasn’t bad enough – in the comments under the video there were men who were suggesting that she brought it on herself. Suggesting if she didn’t want that she should have worn something longer. This is the kind of behaviour that makes me ashamed of being a man.

Women need and want to be afforded the same privileges we have as men. We get to wear what we want, how we want and no one sexualises us as men – women deserve that too. There are a lot of nuances and undertones that are embedded in catcalling ranging from patriarchy and sexism and these are all topics that need to be tackled.

The bottom line is: even if a woman is naked, she is not asking for harassment in any form. Women deserve to be at peace, to wear what they want.


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Tell us: Why is it important that women be allowed to wear what they choose in peace?