Cat-Calling in Toronto

It’s interesting… After reading a link someone had shared on facebook regarding sexual harassment towards women on the street (i.e. mainly cat-calling and lewd verbal comments), I decided to see how women of Toronto felt about the issue. A reddit feed had circulated approximately three months ago with the following title: “Women of r/Toronto, how bad is sexual harassment in public places in this city?” With over 200 comments by women from various areas of the city, a common theme overall was shared; Many women of Toronto have experienced sexual harassment in public which results in feelings of discomfort and/or anger.images-1

It is apparent that many women, especially at night, cannot walk the street alone without having to constantly check their surroundings. Not only this, but also many women refrain from wearing particular clothing that may come across as “provocative” or “sexy” due to past experiences with cat calling. Women have commented that many of the men that approach them are under the influence, and I’m sure we can all agree that this is no excuse. Women should be able to walk the streets in a shorter dress, a plunging neckline or sweatpants for that matter without having to fear potential male commentary or even worse, their own safety.

So why? Why do men (not all men of course, I’m generalizing here) continue to call out “Hey sexy!”, “Nice ass”, “I want some of that” or worse? I can honestly say I don’t know the answer to the question. It still baffles me why men do this, as it certainly doesn’t appear to work. Cat calling does not lead to dates, or sexual encounters. Cat calling leads to situations where women are afraid to wear apparel that may arouse too much attention and situations where women are afraid to walk alone in public.

After reading these posts and thinking about why men cat-call, I decided to ask some of my male friends about female cat-calling. I asked them the following questions:

  1. Have you ever cat-called a female on the street/in public?
  2. Would you ever cat-call a female on the street/in public?
  3. What are your feelings towards cat-calling females on the street/in public?
  4. Why do you think men cat-call females in the street/in public?

The responses were very similar. The overall shared belief was that no, they hadn’t engaged in cat-calling and no they would never engage in cat-calling, however, many know individuals who have. When asked about their feelings towards it, the men I spoke to touched on ideas suggesting that the men that do engage in this behaviour “have no idea how to talk to women civilly” and they questioned why any woman would enjoy it. When asked about why men do it, themes of dominance arose, as it is the males’ way of suggesting who is in charge and where the power lies. It was also suggest that for some men, it is a way to get a rise out of women and one male who had engaged in cat calling stated that it was “usually as a joke”. Having considered the male perspective (keep in the sample of males I questioned was a very small sample and thus these responses are simply to be viewed as opinions and not as factual data) in addition to my own experiences with cat-calling, I would agree that there is a level of dominance that is involved and I would take this a bit further and suggest that it may also involve a level of peer pressure. Many men who cat-call are in the presence of a group of males and thus their own feelings of inclusion and acceptance may be a factor in why this occurs.

At the end of the day I think most of us can agree that women don’t enjoy cat calling. It makes us feel belittled, womanized and sometimes even disgusted and ashamed. When we wear clothing that flatters our figure, we do it because we want to and because we can, not because we want to be called at from across the street. In most cases, cat calling DOES NOT make us feel sexy. It DOES NOT make us want to give you our number. So please, take your thumb off the horn, roll up that window and refrain from cat calling.

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“Why Chivalry is Dead”: A Review

            After reading John Picciuto’s entry entitled: “Why Chivalry is Dead, From a Man’s Perspective” on, a million thoughts popped into my head. In this entry, Picciuto discusses his conservative upbringing and learning the etiquette women should hold towards themselves and towards men. He discusses men’s lack of chivalrous acts that were once considered the norm such as paying for dinner, holding open doors and pulling out chairs etc. He makes a very forward point by stating that in this day and age, that dating realm no longer exists but instead, men and women engage in loose forms of intimacy (if you can even call it intimacy anymore). This has now, according to Picciuto, become the norm, which happens on the regular. I think Picciuto takes this a little bit far as relationships still exist. People meet, engage in conversation, date, and if all is well, establish a relationship. Intercourse may or may not have come to play somewhere in this process, but reality still shows that true relationships still exist that are not based solely off of sex. In addition, even with technology playing a large role in relationships through online dating (which yes, some of which are purely based on a “hook up” nature), traditional dating still exists whether it is going to dinner, a movie, for coffee or for a drink.

beingagentleman             I think Picciuto is valid to some degree, but it was when I read this that a horrible shiver ran through my entire body, which resulted in curled toes and griped fists. “The real problem here is that women, for one reason or another, have become complacent and allowed men to get away with adhering to the bare minimum. We no longer have to put in the effort of flowers, chocolates, dates, etc., and if we do, we come off as stage-five clingers.” What Picciuto is really trying to say is that it is women who are at fault for chivalries demise. What Picciuto neglects to point out is the fact that dating/relationships, whether chivalrous or not, is a two way street. Both parties are to blame here, not just women. I have met both types of women and both types of men: those who engage in common etiquette and chivalry and those who don’t. It’s a matter of values, how the individual was raised, and what the individual is ultimately looking for. Why do men get to call the shots in regard to casual sex? Do men really believe that all women want the romantic relationship and when engaging in casual sex, are merely giving in to men’s needs? This may happen for some, but not for all. Women make choices just as men do. Women choose to engage in casual sex just as men do. This should not be frowned upon, as it is merely a matter of choice. Just as some choose to wait to engage in intercourse until there are in a solid and stable relationship. Whether sex occurs on date one, date three or date twenty, this does not make women receive less or more than they deserve. Just because women engage in casual sex does not mean they don’t believe in chivalry and does not mean that they have lowered their self worth. It means that they are in tune with their sexual needs, which alongside men, need to be met. Maybe a relationship will come further down the road, but women are allowed to be focused on the here and now just as men are.

            Ultimately, relationships, dating and sex are a choice. You decide what you deserve and base your actions on such. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun here and there outside of a relationship. Chivalry is not dead to those who still wish to experience it. We are only lowering our standards if we are going against our values and against what we feel we deserve.

Original entry by John Picciuto:

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