Open letter to the boys who catcalled me during 5th hour lunch


Amara Neitzke, Contributor

As a female, I am able to defy societal expectations, but last week others tried to push them back. Growing up a girl, I was brainwashed by society into believing that I have an obligation in life. Girls are held to a standard of beauty, class, and nothing less than perfection. Growing up a boy, you are taught not to cry, to “be a man,” and, lastly, that women are yours to own. I don’t blame you entirely for what you did. I understand that it is the culture you grew up in that made you believe that my body was yours to comment on. However, growing up I realized I didn’t owe anyone anything, especially you. By the time you are in high school, you are cognitively developed enough to realize what harassment is.

I stood innocently smiling, waiting for my friend to take my photo for a class project, as I heard you whistle and holler at me. Unfortunately the disapproving look I gave you wasn’t enough of a hint. Even after I politely, which was not deserved, told you that what you were doing was unnecessary, you felt the need to shout vulgar things at me in Spanish. I’m sure you thought I couldn’t understand, but it’s funny what I’ve learned when I’ve been speaking Spanish for 12 years. I was enraged and furious, but felt so scared at the same time. I froze and felt vulnerable. My friend could tell that I was uncomfortable, just as I knew she was. Thankfully she removed us from the situation.

I strongly speak for every girl I know when I am telling you and every other boy out there that it is NOT a compliment. You have no right to my body and you have no right to invade my space. My name is not, “Baby,” or “Sweetheart” so don’t be offended when I tell you that you are wrong.

Catcalling is objectification. Catcalling is harassment. Catcalling is not a compliment nor a joke, no matter what you think. I am not flattered. I’m not a dog who will come scampering as you whistle at me. I refuse to sit silent about this situation because it is not fair to every other girl who feels scared walking down the sidewalk by herself. Moreover, women are scared to tell you to stop because our society has bred us to believe that, no matter what, it is, somehow, in someway, our fault. What does it say about our culture and society when a Detroit woman is murdered for telling a man in a bar that she was not interested and a rapist only has to do three months of jail time? If we continue to just let these situations go, we are giving into this violent cultural oppression against women.  

Appleton North was just named one of the top schools in the nation, but we have a long way to go. It shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere, especially in a school environment, to catcall a girl. We need to push more and more awareness on this issue. These boys can not grow up believing that it is acceptable to objectify women. We can’t allow them to believe that calling out to girls is anything besides devaluing. The fact that I even have to write this should be a clear indicator that there is an issue.

Lastly, I have a few questions to all of the boys who think catcalling is a compliment or a joke. What do you get out of it? Would you do it if your mother, sister, or aunt was around you? Or how would you feel if you witnessed it happening to your mother, sister, or aunt? If it is, “just a joke,” why did she walk faster instead of laugh? And lastly, when was the last time it actually worked for you?

Amara Neitzke, junior, is the president of the Gender Equality Club.