Catcalls and demons

Joey Garcia

Yesterday, I was at the ATM and while my back was to the street, some man thought it was OK to whistle at me. As a woman, I have never felt more disrespected in my entire life. Some people might think it’s normal or that I’m exaggerating, but catcalls shouldn’t be “normal.” I should be able to walk around without anyone catcalling me. I felt degraded, disgusted and disrespected. I’m 22 and told my 60-year-old coworker about it, and she told me that I should be flattered because men don’t respond to her that way anymore. Flattered? Really? I’d like to hear your take on this.

My take is that you should give more of yourself to the practice of equality. Here’s why: Your response to being catcalled was silence. That’s not the response of a person who felt equal to the situation or to the man who whistled. You must begin to see yourself as equal to men. Believe that you deserve to occupy public space as much as anyone else. Then back up that belief with your attitude and actions. One useful response to catcalling is to make a request. Like this: “Please have some respect.” Say it in a strong, but respectful voice. Never speak your “please” in a whining or plaintive tone. Rather use the tone that a police officer would while managing crowd control: “Please step back.” Then, follow that polite word with your demand for respect.

I know this tactic works because I’ve used it all over the world. I find that men usually apologize, often profusely. Occasionally, a man will say, “I am respecting you because I am appreciating your beauty.” A good response to that is: “Then comment on my attractiveness in a way that lets me know you are a mature adult.”

It also helps to remember that most hetero men have been raised to believe that catcalls and other forms of commentary on women’s bodies are acceptable. But female silence in response to a catcall reinforces the acceptability of sexualizing women. If you want something different, disrupt the narrative. Educate the man. If nothing else, you will get him to think twice before he harasses another woman. So if you can’t muster the courage to speak out for your own sake, do it for a sister.

What do you do about demons? My boyfriend and I were visited by a demon named Azael. My boyfriend got bit and when that disappeared, he had three scratches on his arm. What should we do?

Stop believing in demons. Ancient people created the concept of demons to explain people and behaviors they did not understand. In the 21st century, we have access to science, psychology and a wiser worldview, so there’s no need to be stuck in all-or-nothing thinking like demons/gods or heaven/hell. If you remove the investment of your personal energy from the belief in a demon, the demon no longer exists in your world. (See what I did there?) If your thoughts about a demon persist, you or your boyfriend may be struggling with a mental health issue and should see a psychiatrist immediately.

Meditation of the week
“We are forever looking for ways to test and match … to sense in unison. This is what love feels like. This is what art sometimes feels like. It’s what spiritual transcendence feels like.” writes Jason Tougaw in his memoir The One You Get. How do you love the ones you’re with on this planet?

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