You’re sexually frustrated. It shows.

An article by Vice entitled “It’s Time for Men to Stop Letting Women Get Catcalled’ discusses how men should start being allies to women during incidents of catcalling. In the article, the author, Christine Estima, touches on how other males witnessing the uncomfortable situation should step up and try to stop these occurrences from happening. Estima emphasises that to do nothing is to normalise the situation and the perpetrators’ actions. In her article, Estima discusses power dynamics and the issue of rejection.

According to Oxford English Dictionary, catcalling means “a loud whistle or a comment of a sexual nature made by a man to a passing woman”. Basically, catcalling is the process where women get unwanted attention from obnoxious, sexually frustrated men who feel the need to blatantly comment on and remind women how they look; i.e. beautiful, hot, sexy.

Often, these men think they are paying the woman a compliment. However, these incidents are truly uncalled for and are a form of street harassment, especially when done persistently and aggressively. Estima also mentions that often, these men are “not trying to date me” but are simply trying to “humiliate and reinforce their dominance” over women. These one-way exchanges highlight the objectifying nature of catcalling and the power imbalance. Estima also highlights that these men see catcalling as a platform to exercise their male power.

As if it was unclear before, catcalling not only make women very uncomfortable and feel unsafe but also keeps them at a lower and weaker status than men. From a perceived level of weakness, anything women say or do would only serve as a form of encouragement for these men. This is well explained by Don Kulick in his article “No”. In his article, he mentions how a woman’s ‘no’ is constrained by cultural expectations and that it is consistently thwarted and distorted to mean “keep trying” or even its inversion ‘yes’. (Kulick, 2003) This also reflects societal norms; that resistance is expected from women, and women are to expect men to be more persistent with their advances. (Cameron & Kulick, 2003) Unfortunately, this highlights how there is nothing women can do to stop the catcalling when it happens.

To tackle this issue, Estima suggests that other men witnessing the situation step up to become allies to women. The presence of other men elevates the perceived weak status of women and in turn, would help stop these catcallers, even momentarily. But this is only as successful of an approach if men were to start taking initiative. Regardless of sex or gender, no one should feel uncomfortable walking home alone. It is the responsibility of the community to ensure that everyone feels safe in it.

Personally, I think it is awful that women still have to depend on men just to go about their everyday life in peace. Until men can learn how to get rid of their pent-up sexual frustrations through another outlet and teach the rest of them how to do it too, women have to continue to fight hard just to feel safe in their own environment.

If you think the devil works hard, I think women work harder. 


Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and sexuality: Cambridge University Press.

Kulick, D. (2003). No. Language and Communication, 23, 139-151. doi:10.1016/S0271-5309(02)00043-5

2 comments on “You’re sexually frustrated. It shows.

  1. Hi Wani,

    I saw your title and was drawn to read it and I’m glad I did because street or sexual harassment such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted gestures or comments are very real. I have had my fair share of whistlings and unwanted comments and gestures that have made me uncomfortable.

    I guess it depends on the situation of how and what was said. Some may say the catcalling incident was them complimenting – which is fine, right? However, if the woman has shown disinterest or discomfort, then it should stop, even if the intention was good. Which is where I guess the controversial relationship between compliment and harassment should be addressed.

    A compliment is supposed to be something that makes you feel good. Not terrified, threatened or powerless. Catcalling then is a case of harassment because it not flattering at all, hence, not a compliment. It is a display of power. As mentioned in Estima’s article, catcalling was a way of men exercising male power and street/sexual harassment makes women feel violated.

    I agree that it is unfortunate that stopping catcalling is not just a woman’s job. Also, mustering up the courage to tell him off can be difficult because it can carry other consequences.

  2. Hey Wani,

    This is a really cool article because personally as a woman myself, I hate it when guys start catcalling. Catcalling is really just a form of disrespecting women. Catcalling is a compliment? More often than not, catcalling just leave women in discomfort, self-conscious and threatened by all the unwanted attention. I am sure a real compliment would not make women feel that way.

    Men should know that first, women do not dress up and look cute for you. Women would dress up for themselves and look cute for themselves. Even when they do look cute, it does not give men the privilege to go around “complimenting”/ catcalling based on what they wear. Women does not need men to validate their beauty. Women do not equate their self-worth with men’s input. In fact, I am pretty sure that catcalling are not out of sincerity to compliment women but, rather for the sake of men themselves so that they can get something out of these beautiful women. Most probably they want to have sex with these beautiful ladies which is the main and major reason for catcalling.

    Objectifying women still exist in this modern society as can be seen from the catcalling occurrence. Men still think that women are here for them, here to satisfy their needs, here as their objects to toy around. Therefore, catcalling is not a compliment but rather a form of disrespect. Catcalling is definitely not meant to brighten a woman’s day.

    An additional article that i read on catcalling which may interest you as well:

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