Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Friday, 29 May 2015

Strangers Have Been Catcalling You Since Before You Were 17, Right?

Strangers Have Been Catcalling You Since Before You Were 17, Right?

The Debrief: Massive study shows that street harassment has been a part of our lives before we were actual adults…

Catcalling, wolf-whistling, being followed home, having someone you don’t know walk in step with you, a guy with a watch on asking you the time, the ‘cheer up love’… whatever you call it, it’s street harassment. And it affects women way worse than men, and figures today reveal just how long we’ve all been putting up with it.

According to research done by Hollaback and Cornell University with over 16,000 women from around the world, 84% of women are harassed on the street before they hit 17. That rises to 90% in the UK.


There are some other stats, too, reports the Daily News, as more than 88% of Italian women reported having to divert a route they’re taking because of harassment, and 76% of French women have been followed in the past year alone. As for Irish women, 65% of them have been groped or fondled (without their permission and by a stranger) in the past year. Overal, 50% of respondents said they’d experienced this.

We wonder if the problem with street harassment starting at such a young age  – apart from the obvious of ‘how fucking creepy are some guys?’ – is that it then becomes normalised in the victims? Like, is part of the reason that people don’t do more about it because it’s become something we expect? Because, if you can bring yourself to not be tired of the bullshit, there can and should exist a world where a girl can walk down the street without being barked at by some bloke who’s got no other way to feel good about himself.


‘People don’t want to recognise that this starts really young,’ says Debjani Roy, deputy director of Hollaback!: ‘The emotional impact it has as girls develop is quite significant.

‘This is a global problem. This really points to the fact that it is a global epidemic.’

The good part of it? Due to the fact more and more of us are talking about it – ‘More people are able to recognize this as a problem, rather than something that just happens.’

And maybe, maybe, the powers that be will discover it’s time to start penalising people who think it’s OK to go out of their way to make women (and schoolgirls) feel uncomfortable, distressed and, at times, traumatised. Because this sort of stuff goes on unpunished every single day.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

How ARE We Supposed To Deal With Catcalling?

Creepy Catcalling And Separate Beds: The Realities Of Travelling In A Lesbian Couple

This Video Shows That, When It Comes To Women Of Colour, Catcalling Goes To A Whole Other Level

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Li Hui 

Tags: FFS News, Sexism