Opinion: Catcalling is a sign of a forgotten time – it’s time it ends

The American Civil Liberties Union concluded a survey in 2014 that found that one in five college students experience some form of sexual assault during their tenures. More alarmingly, 95 percent of the sexual assaults go unreported.

As a college student, I look forward to advancing in my education through school and other experiences that come along.

Unfortunately, that journey comes with unwanted and sometimes vulgar advances that are hurled my way from guys too ego-driven to be civil adults.

This is 2015 — the corny “Hey, sexy!” and sexually harassing gestures never worked before, and it’s time to finally put to rest the idea that they’ll ever work now.

There is no doubt that there is still an ongoing problem with sexual assault and the reporting of the incidents on college campuses, as the Current previously reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union concluded a survey in 2014 that found that one in five college students experience some form of sexual assault during their tenures. More alarmingly, 95 percent of the sexual assaults go unreported.

While the recent falsified rape story of a student at the University of Virginia in 2012 has done little to advance the conversation on how to prevent such incidences from occurring, the jarring inconsistencies of the story itself speak to a larger problem — students are not finding resolution in their plight to have a sexual harassment-free college experience.

The argument has never been about making students, particularly females, feel attractive or wanted through advances. This is not the roaring 1960s and Don Draper is not calling the shots anymore.

Making unwanted advances and gestures at any student does the opposite of making students feel safe and secure on campus.

On the week of March 20, the Los Rios district sent out an important notice on “consumer info, sexual harassment, and sexual violence” and information on how to report it.

Scott Crow, American River College’s communication and public information officer, noted that the current harassment policies on campus consider any type of harassment unacceptable, regardless if it is sexual or otherwise.

As adults at the college level, there are no more excuses for permitting and aiding in the harassment of others for personal fulfillment.

While handing out newspapers this semester, I was told by a student that he would only take a copy if it had my name and number on it.

When walking from class to class, the last thing that a student should have to put up with is a group of fellow students attempting to get his or her attention by yelling at them about their body or whistling, insinuating they are a piece of meat to be enjoyed.

Would you talk to your mother this way? Of course not, and human beings deserve respect and dignity based on their ethics and work, not solely be judged on the basis of looks.

Luckily, the pleas for increased student security have not gone unheard.

The police department at ARC is now offering an escort service for those walking to and from night classes to help ease the feeling of being unsafe, but how does someone know if the situation is threatening enough to need an escort?

A constant barrage of media advertising and promotion that seems to place self-gratification at the expense of others does not help matters. Society continually participating in these stereotypes that commonly place women as objects (and to a lesser degree, men as well) only exacerbates the problem.

Specifically on ARC’s campus, not only does it appear that students by and large do not see this as a problem, but “catcalling,” or other assorted unwanted advances of a sexual nature, aren’t even considered instances of harassment unless a student report’s it has happened multiple times and feels their safety is at risk.

In order for harassment to be taken more seriously on campus as a legitimate problem and to make it easier and more comfortable for students to come forward, a survey or notice needs to be put out letting others know that harassment on campus is being acknowledged by asking students and faculty their opinions.

If more students were to report the harassment, catcalling, and the annoyingly frustrating pickup lines that actually jeapordize their sense of safety, the ARC campus police would be much more effective at not only helping those on the receiving end, but getting information out to students to hopefully deter it from happening in the first place.

I want to reiterate my point here. I’m not some crazy feminist who thinks guys don’t have the right to approach women, or that the problem is squarely a males vs. females dynamic, but it’s about how a student is approached.

Don’t shout to a student as he or she is walking by in an attempt to be clever, hip, and look cool in front of your friends, and don’t make comments about a student’s body that you know would make them feel uncomfortable.

Again, would you tell your mother she looked “damn fine” in a sundress? I certainly hope not.

It’s time for students who find harassment and catcalling entertaining or funny to wake up and ask themselves if they are willing to continue to contribute to a classroom environment that would make their sister, daughter, or mother feel completely embarrassed.

Because if not, realize it’s the environment you’re creating.

No student seeks to feel conscious about their looks or their safety in an environment of higher learning. They don’t want to be whistled at, and they sure as hell don’t care what another student thinks about their body or how entertaining they can be for the egos of those who would rather treat fellow students like mannequins rather than real people.

While it’s impossible to force behavior change across our society as a whole (though I remain ever hopeful), we can band together, men and women, at the college level and play our part to stamp out this elementary behavior once and for all.

After all, at the end of the day, we’re just here to learn.  Let’s keep it that way.

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2 Comments on "Opinion: Catcalling is a sign of a forgotten time – it’s time it ends"

  1. This is what people need to hear…Thank you for writing this. I’m a female student at ARC. I’ve experienced the ‘cat-calling’, the annoying and inappropriate comments, the sexual harassment. It needs to stop. I want a college were i can learn and excel freely without having to worry what people will say or do, unfortunately ARC is far from that. But as a first gen college student and very little resources, ARC is my best option. Imagine u were me, starting college just after turning 17 and having men 23-25ish making sexual comments and starring at me as if i were prey. It’s not only annoying, It’s also scary….especially if they r being very aggressive. and of course not every guy is aggressive (some r plain annoying) but if we say its ok when ‘catcalling’ is annoying, how will we be able to stop it if it’s suddenly aggressive/violent?? As a minor, i’ve had guys ‘accidentally’ rub their bodies against me, grab my butt, touch my chest, make sexual comments. I once yelled to leave me alone, i was called a b**** and grabbed ( hard) and then pushed. The result of his tight grip was purple (bruised) finger marks on my rib cage and bruises on my arm….

    After a lot of going back and forth I’ve decided to enroll for the upcoming school year, I’ll be 18 by then (my second year at ARC). However, i will be not taking certain classes i want to take, because of the harassment i faced on certain sides of campus. Re-enrolling was a hard decision to make. The harassment, the cat calling is really the only thing i really dont like about ARC. I think its a big problem. I nearly dropped out because of it. But I believe, that together we can make a change and make ARC a safe place to learn.

  2. What a nice article! Of course it’s time to end that kind of harassment that girls have to face on campus. We, too, must mention the girls who hurl insults at male students like “No! I’m biggered!” or “I’m talled!” or “I’m for big people!” We know that the coeds all wish to have a football or basketball star for a boyfriend, but those are in limited supply each semester so, should all the girls enrolled at a campus wish to have nothing but a sports hero for a boyfriend or admirer, they perhaps should carry signs with them while on campus that state: “I am for a sports star only, so please no comments!”

    If there is another form of seclusion that these women might have that keep them safe from unwarranted comments on their physical appearance, the school should be open to suggestion. True, the other side of the coin is appropriate for male students, also. Perhaps they should wear signs that say “I am only for non-cheerleaders as I am quite puny; please no comments from Buffy!”

    We must seek equality on campus. There can be no half-measure here.

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