Catcalling and the other forms of misbehavior wouldn’t exist in a perfect world, but the reality is that our world is very far from perfect.
Women face creepy and unwanted comments on the street every day, but the problem is that not only adult women experience that, but young girls too!
A recent study showed that one in ten girls in America had been catcalled before her 11th birthday! Yeah, 11! That’s about fourth grade! And yet another study has shown that more than one in six girls has experienced some form of gender-based harassment in elementary and secondary school.
According to Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, catcalling and any other objectifying behavior can make girls feel like their value is only determined by how they look, and not what they think or what they can accomplish. So, it kicks off the domino effect in which girls are starting to objectify themselves, and they often feel overly concerned about how they look. They compare their bodies to other women and girls on the internet, and are starting to judge other girls based on their looks.
To make things worse, catcalling makes girls feel ashamed of their bodies, and they feel that they have to be extra cautious when out in public. No person should experience such things, let alone an 11-year-old!
Catcalling is harmful, scary, and could be happening to your daughter or one of her friends! And the last thing you should do in such situation is to pretend that nothing is happening. Yes, it’s understandable that it might not be the most comfortable topic to talk about, but there are 6 things you should do to help protect your daughter from that behavior:
1. Point out sexism in pop-culture
You can easily bring up the topic of catcalling by pointing it out when you notice it on TV shows, movies, or in real life. For example, when you witness catcalling or other intimidation, raise the interaction to your daughter and tell her why it is unacceptable and absolutely inappropriate.
2. Let her know that it’s NEVER her fault
You must emphasize that no girl or woman is ever, EVER “asking” for it or doing something “to deserve it”. And no, the clothes she wears absolutely don’t justify it! She can do whatever she wants to do, wear what she wants, and go where she wants.
3. Try to get them talking
Even though the topics of catcalling and harassment may seem like something only grownups should be talking about, young girls can be targetted to, so they need to know what’s going on. The fact that only 2% of girls ever tell their parents what’s happening to them makes this even more important.
4. Talk to young men and boys in your life
As we mentioned already, it’s never the fault of the girl or woman. So, if you have sons, or other young men in your life, make sure to bring up the topic and inform them that this behavior is absolutely unacceptable.
5. Teach her what to say and do
Make sure to inform your girls that catcalling is in no way polite, and it’s always completely the opposite. There’s no need to laugh or smile, or even engage with conversation with these people.
6. Take action
If you believe the problem has grown in your community, and the chances are that is has, you might consider getting more involved. Talk to your children’s school administration and teachers and suggest they start planning an assembly with students or parent-student meetings in order to address the pressures that are put on both genders.