To all men: there’s a thin line between catcalling and harassment. Don’t cross it.

Every woman already heard it before: a whistle, a wink, a checking you out with the eyes and the occassional ‘beautiful’, ‘sexy’ or ‘whore’. To be honest, I don’t care much about normal catcalling. When it’s respectful and admiring, I call it a compliment. When it’s insulting, I couldn’t care less. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me and all that. Until it comes to touching me. Then you’ve crossed the line. 

I’ve been travelling through Central America, like most of you, my beloved followers, know. Latin America screams catcalling. More to that, it’s in their veins. Young and old, men will wistle, call you beautiful, try to grab your attention wether you like it or not. Sometimes it’s flattering. Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes you want to punch someone in the face after the 50th ‘hola guapa’. But they never ever touched me with a finger. Even more, when my friend M. – she’s almost a native, her spanish is incredible – jokes back and tells them she does want to be their girlfriend, they act shocked. Or the laugh because they recognize a joke. Anyhow, things stay friendly.  No harassments, no touchy touchy, nothing.

So what the hell is going on, Europe? Yes, I am a girl. Yes, I wear skirts, because I don’t like to wear pants. Is their a note on my back that says ‘touch me, please’? I don’t think so. Does that mean you can try to get a hold on one of my buttocks and feel a bit more? I don’t think so either. I never get catcalled in Belgium. Apparently, I get grabbed from behind and followed or chased. Doesn’t matter, broad daylight or middle of the night, those men don’t care. So please, guys, what’s going on? Since when did some of you became dirty little creeps following girls minding their own business? Today I got followed for ten minutes, got touched twice on my way to the train station. An accident in a busy street. At least, that’s what I thought. Until the same guy puts his hand beneath my skirt at the station as well, in a not so busy area. Second time in two weeks. Rewind to a saturday night, two weeks ago. Walking back from a party, on my way to my car and texting with a friend. A guy grabs my butt from behind. I push him away, and continue my walk. He follows me a whole way, pretending to start sprinting after me three times. This is not ok. This is not innocent catcalling. This is harassment.

Guys, stop it. Don’t do it. What if it’s your sister? Your mother? Your girlfriend? Nobody likes this. I don’t want to live in a society where I have to watch my back so I wouldn’t get touched against my will. Or worse, raped. Say something when you see this happening. Help the girl. Ask if they are okay. Be like the guy who came to me today and told me he saw what happened and if he needed to go to the police with me. And first of all, don’t do it yourself.

Any other girls who had bad experiences while traveling or home? What did you do against it? 

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