Cassie’s Story | January 8, 2019
Gender-based street harassment is an epidemic affecting women, non binary and trans folks in cities around the globe. Join Catcalls of NYC writer Jessica Hutt in hearing first-hand accounts from people who are saying NO to catcalling.
Jessica Hutt: Where are you from?
Cassie: I’m originally from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but I have been living in Nashville, TN for about 10 years.
Hutt: How old were you when you were first catcalled?
Cassie: I was 11.
Hutt: What happened? Who catcalled you? What did they say/do?
Cassie: I was going to the pool, and this boy who was probably 15 or 16 whistled at me. He was cute, and I was young and thought it was a type of compliment, so I smiled.
Hutt: How did the experience make you feel in the moment and after the fact?
Cassie: In the moment I thought it made me more mature, because I had only ever seen women get catcalled. It was almost like a right of passage or something in my mind back then. Now looking back it makes me sick. While I looked much older than I was at the time (I looked like I could’ve easily been the same age as the boy), it’s still wildly inappropriate for him to have whistled at me like a dog needing to come home.
Hutt: How did you react outwardly?
Cassie: I gave a small, quick smile and then I walked a little faster.
Hutt: Did you tell anyone what happened?
Cassie: I’ve never really told anyone, my mom was around though and told the boy to shove it.
Hutt: Do you believe that catcalling is a compliment?
Cassie: I did, I thought it was like a reaffirmation. Now I think it’s derogatory. Women are humans, created to be the equals of men, not possessions.
Hutt: Do you go out of your way to avoid situations in which you could be catcalled?
Cassie: I don’t really [take measures to prevent] getting catcalled, more just for my general safety. Common things, like parking close to whatever place I’m going to, making sure I’m in a place that’s well lit, holding my car keys a certain way.
Hutt: Did you feel the need to change your behavior after the experience?
Cassie: No, never. I have pepper spray, but I’m more likely to punch someone than use it, and where I work, I’m not permitted to have it. As far as dressing, I will always dress in a way that makes me feel good, mostly because I’ve found that I’ll get catcalled whether I’m wearing something with my tits out or a literal trench coat.
Hutt: What do you think can be done to end street harassment?
Cassie: Honestly, calling out those who catcall. I’m an outspoken person, so I’ll usually cuss whoever it is out without thinking twice about it. Showing them it’s not consensual, not a compliment, and overall not okay.
Hutt: Why is it important to end street harassment?
Cassie: Because I shouldn’t wish to have sons one day just because I don’t want another little girl to go through what I have. If any kind of sexual harassment persists in our community then it perpetuates the idea of women only having worth if they are deemed desirable, objectifying them.
Want more stories? Keep checking the Catcalls of NYC blog for new interviews with badass people sharing their personal experiences with street harassment. Special thanks to Cassie for telling her story and speaking out against unsolicited sexual advances!