Well, you know what time it is. The sun’s out which means sundresses are in, reclaiming their annual title as the only formidable weapon to combat the summer heat. Unfortunately, because the universe has quite the twisted sense of humor, all good things must come with a price. You’d think, because of the wholesome nature of the sundress, the price we pay to wear such a pure garment would be something of the likes of wearing a strapless bra or getting goosebumps in cold buildings at worst. But no, the world would be too easy if we could get off with merely enduring slight strapless discomfort.
The truth is, as soon as the temperature rises and the socially- acceptable clothing quota drops, toxic male behavior gets a lot bolder. It’s as if summer wardrobes give men*** the excuse they were craving to be assholes to random women on the street. The scapegoat they yearned for to stare a little longer, smile a little sleazier, act a little pervier. You guessed it. I’m talking catcalling.
For some odd reason, men seem to not know how to act around a woman in a sundress. Or short shorts. Or tight jeans. Or any item of clothing, really, because at the end of the day it’s not the skirt’s fault. Men's unwarranted and oftentimes rude attention needs no real trigger. If I’ve said it once, I’ve probably said it a million times before: no item of clothing, no matter how skimpy it is, gives anyone the right to disrespect someone’s body -- especially if they’re just trying to enjoy a nice summer day.
So parents, start teaching your sons lessons in common human decency, starting with how to act properly in front of pretty women in pretty dresses. Until this necessary deed is done, don't let anyone's scummy behavior stop you from living your best life in whatever clothes make you feel good, especially if it just happens to be that one dress tucked away for sunny days.
While we can’t stop the inevitable catcalls, we can guide you in how to respond to the lowest points of human behavior. Join us in navigating the trashy world of catcalling.
* DISCLAIMER: Of course, sometimes safety requires you to stay quiet. That's okay too, because your livelihood is the most important. Plus, the catcallers are doing this for attention, so you may just stay quiet anyway to show that they're not getting under your skin. But! If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t help but respond, then this is the guide for you. *
If he starts with, "What’s your name, Baby?"
He most definitely does not care about your name and quite frankly, doesn’t deserve to know your name. In fact, you’ll likely find that he has yet to make eye contact. I’d suggest tossing out a fake name and keeping it moving. My personal favorite is Beyonce. Don’t be afraid to call upon the protection of the queen.
"Hey yo, ma, can I get your number?"
On the odd chance that this is not completely obvious, by no means should you give him your number. In most cases, the remark is thrown out with no real intention to actually collect your number. However, if for some reason the situation appears hostile or you can’t quite find a way out of exchanging numbers, a fake number is the way to go. Simply leave before he tries calling to verify the validity of the number, or suggest he gives you his number and you’ll respond later. For the particularly daring, try going in to insert your number but instead search for his CashApp or VenMo. Never hurts to try.
"Damnnnnnnn, who told you to wear a dress like that?"
You’re not five. You don’t have to be told what to wear. The real question is who told him to wear an outfit like that because I can almost guarantee your catcaller is in desperate need of fashion advice. If you’re in a particularly charitable mood, maybe you’d even try giving him some.
"Miss, can you smile for me?"
Never let anyone convince you to smile on demand. The notion that women are here purely to be visually appealing in the eyes of a man is so warped in itself that I’m not sure this one even needs an explanation. Just don’t smile. In fact, try making the meanest, ugliest, most intimidating face you can summon. Extra points if you make eye contact.
"What’s underneath that dress of yours, mami?"
This display of idiocy can only mean one of two things: 1) your catcaller doesn’t know that people wear underwear under their clothes (shocker, I know) or 2) He genuinely is uneducated about the human anatomy. If he’s gotten this far without learning basic biology, I wouldn't burst his bubble just yet. Instead, inform him that your dress is actually hiding your scales, hissing for dramatic effect.
"Walk this way for me, baby."
If it’s possible to get to wherever you’re going by walking the opposite direction, I would do so. If not, it wouldn’t hurt to momentarily pick up some speed, just to spite him.
After realizing that you are not, in fact, in imminent danger, recompose yourself and don’t be afraid to flick off the asshole who thought it was a good idea to use a safety tool for their own perverted attention-wanting means.
*Kissing sounds* *Whistles*
Again, you’re not five. People shouldn't be using derogatory sounds to attract your attention like some sort of baby or dog. Try making the same sounds back to them, and let them see how it feels.
No one deserves to get catcalled, and yet, it happens to every woman at least once in their life. It’s not right, but that doesn’t stop it from happening daily whether you’re wearing a short dress or jeans and a sweatshirt. I’m confident that one day, everyone will miraculously have the home training necessary to treat random women with respect. But until that day comes, go ahead and wear that sundress. Don’t let anyone take that power of feeling invincible away from you. And for the rest of you, just please try to be a decent human being this summer. Catcalling is never the answer, in fact, it tends to be the problem. I promise there are less sh*tter ways to get a girl's attention.
***when we talk about men in this piece, we're referring to the cis-het dudes who troll us on the street.