Column: Men need to speak up against catcalling

Destiny Blanchard, Opinions Writer

In the past week I have started my summer internship in the city of Chicago. I was and still am excited about spending my summer working in the city, but I was quickly reminded of an issue myself and many other women have to face when existing in public.

While I was walking to my bus stop in the morning before work, a man crossing the same street as me proceeded to yell at me, asking for my name and attempting to compliment me. I anxiously ignored him and tried to get to where I was going. As I passed him and did not engage with his comments, he ended his disgusting tirade by insulting me. This wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced something like this, and it won’t be the last.

Every woman I know can recount a time they were catcalled or verbally harassed on the street by a man. I don’t want to make any sweeping generalizations but we all know the truth about how often men harass women. Our society’s allowance of rape culture, toxic masculinity, and over sexualization of women has created a culture where this kind of harassment is normal.

One thing I was thinking about after this encounter is the fact that many men are quick to say that not all men catcall and harass women, but a lot of men don’t speak up when others do it. In my situation no one else was on the street, but there were multiple cars at the crosswalk waiting for us to cross. And in those cars there were men who watched the interaction and didn’t say a word. I wonder how many women have been verbally harassed by a man while other men watched silently. I think the fault also lies on those who choose to ignore the issue.

As a young single woman in a big city wouldn’t have dared to speak up against that man who was much taller and older than me, for fear of my safety. There’s a lot to be said about how often women experience this type of harassment but it’s also important to speak about how complacent a lot of men are. Many of them are unwilling to call out other men. Until men start caring about this problem in the same way that women do it will always be a problem for us.