What is the logic behind catcalling & creepy behaviour?`

Hi all

A while ago I was listening to a radio programme where a 15-year old girl was talking, quite frankly, about how unknown men ‘interact’ with her in public in unsettling ways. This could be shouting something out of a van driving past, walking up to her outside a bus stop and telling her flat out that she was sexy, asking what her bra size was, etc… This, she said, was more common when she was wearing her school uniform…

Anecdote #2: many years ago, back in the mid 90s when the internet was still embryonic, my friends and I used to log on to primitive ‘chat rooms’ signed in with a girl’s name and wait for the inevitable flood of desperate, creepy and aggressive sexual comments and requests. Our game was to harvest the creepiest/funniest comment we could, so that we could then cite it to each other on later occasions as a joke. Hey, that was the kind of teenager that we were. The point, I now realise, was that some guys act weird around girls when they think that no-one else is looking.

As many a female has since attested to me, when girls are alone (or at least, not in the company of other men), they become targets of peculiarly aggressive sexual comments from some men. The question is, what is the motivation behind this stuff? When a guy walks up to a schoolgirl waiting for the bus and asks her her bra size, what is his end goal exactly? Is this a pathetically misguided attempt to ‘score’? Or is the point more that in doing so, the man knows that he is making the girl uncomfortable - he doesn’t need/want her to say or do anything - the point is that he has already said it. If it is the latter, then what drives him to do this? Is it woman-hating on account of being lonely, or some fear or mistrust of females owing to childhood trauma of some kind or what?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts…

It is about power.
“Humans are the only species in which one sex consistently preys upon the other. Men claim male predation is “natural” and rooted in genetic or hormonal coding and therefore unalterable. If, this is true humanity is doomed to extinction.” Marilyn French

I don’t agree it’s about power on its face. The justifications for it, and the perception that it’s OK – those are about power. I think that statement actually opens the door to an entire debate that never touches on the actual problem in a way that has any chance of solving it, because the people doing the justifying are never going to reevaluate it if they’re entirely certain that they’re right, they don’t make unwanted advances because of power.

The actions themselves are just about selfishness. I see a thing I want, and another thing I want is to say something about it, and I can’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t be able to. I mean, I say creepy shit to my girlfriend sometimes, and I get away with it because she’s my girlfriend. But there’s no difference in terms of the motivation between me and some guy on the street saying the same thing to her. In order to understand why it’s different you have to employ at least some degree of empathy. As long as you’re OK not doing that, you can feel fine being as creepy as you want.

To get attention. Without first establishing attention, you will get nownere. Some girls are responsive to such things, and a reaction from the occasional one of them is at least first base, which is farther than you will get by doing nothing. Meanwhile, there is nothing to lose by establishing an attention that is rebuffed or ignored.

It’s a DEMAND for attention. And as such, is aggressive and totally about power, in my opinion.

Yes. Because, as Jimmy Chitwood said, “I see a THING I want,” (emphasis mine). If you see an object you want, why would you worry about how the object feels about that? It’s yours to claim.

Yes! elbows and MoonMoon that is right.
So many people feel powerless, even if they don’t consciously acknowledge the fact. A man may be saying in words that he wants sex from the woman but if she turns the tables he will run. For example - He asks about her bra and she replies that she wants him to perform sex right now! He will in most cases back up right quick. He wants to show that he has power over her. The power to make her feel fear of him is on top of the list.

It’s the equivalent of a toddlers tantrum: negative attention is a step up from being ignored.

Agreed. Objectifying the girl/woman is a big part of it. If all you see is a collection of body parts you’d like to use, you don’t stop to think that this is a whole person, someone’s daughter, sister, mother, wife.


What do you mean by saying creepy shit to your girlfriend? If you mean saying something about how good she looks or wanting to have sex, I’d guess it’s probably not creepy to her, since she knows you and feels safe with you and you saying those things wouldn’t cause her unease or fear. But a random person saying the exact same things word for word would be creepy, because she doesn’t know the stranger and doesn’t know if he’s just someone who likes to make women uncomfortable, or if he’s an actual threat.

I’d say there is a difference in motivation between you and the guy on the street, because catcalling almost never “works” in that the catcaller almost never gets a woman’s legitimate interest and nothing ever comes from it other than making the woman uncomfortable. If you and the random guy on the street both asked her for sex, your motivation is the same in that you want to have sex with her, but different in that your request is probably a reasonable one, and his request definitely is not. And he knows it’s not a reasonable request, so his real motivation is just to make her uncomfortable.

Catcallers know what they’re doing, and some percentage think they are being complimentary, but a large number know that they are doing it just to make women uncomfortable or fearful. It definitely seems like a power play to me.

Curious. Do men do this when there aren’t other men around who they want to impress with their aggressive heterosexuality?

It’s definitely some male power trip bullshit. I refuse to believe anyone is crazy enough to think I’m going to bone them if they yell “Nice tits!” at me.


My guess is that these guys are establishing a one-sided erotic connection between themselves and these women. They don’t expect anything more to come out of it, but being in a “conversation” with a woman or girl, with her listening to his talk about her sexual attributes, does something for them.

I mean, I don’t know if anybody would be happy if that was all they got out of life, but these guys are bored people on the job and not very considerate of the feelings of passing women, and it doesn’t require much effort on their part, and from that perspective even the tiny satisfaction I’m describing is probably enough for them.

[I would further guess that flashers are doing something along the same lines.]

Yeah, they’re displaying their shortcomings.

There are girls or women who respond to this? Where? When? Letters in Penthouse Forum do NOT count. Not once in my fifty years plus as female, not even at our super-secret slumber parties where we have pillow fights in our baby-doll jammies, have I ever heard a single female say “This guy in a car yelled ‘Nice tits!’ as I was walking up. I hope I get to meet him soon.” Well, one or two might have expressed a wish that he’d show his creepy face long enough for her to bash it in, but I doubt that’s the attention you mean.

I suppose that catcalling, sleazy comments and flashing all exist on the same spectrum, except that catcalling by men in a group may be a form of social bonding (and so less to do with power and more to do with belonging to the group). Likewise, I guess that what some girls interpret as creepiness and social aggression is actually merely very poorly-crafted chat-up material.

The thing is, if I were to make a stranger feel confused, uncomfortable and scared I would be mortified - so what is it exactly which is different between me (and I hope most of us) and these weirdos? Who *are *they? Are they otherwise normal people who have jobs and families, but yet have a secret fetish for saying ‘nice tits’ to schoolgirls? Or are they full-time weirdos, who live in dimly-lit basements eating food out of cans and masturbating to anime? And where might this desire for power or dominance (assuming that’s what it is) stem from?

Girls do respond, just not in a positive manner. The whole point is that negative attention trumps being ignored.

My guess is that it varies. There are probably some weirdos who have that as their fetish that gets them off. And there are probably some who are loud and sexually aggressive in general, and think that the stupid women should just take a compliment, and don’t care that women don’t like it. And some realize it’s bad but do it as social bonding.

And like Jimmy Chitwood said, it’s partly because of a lack of empathy. A lot of guys would absolutely love it if women were yelling out sexually aggressive things at them on the street. They’re not thinking about the real danger women face from men.

Some of the desire to do it might come from insecurity and past rejection. Like John asks Jane out and she turns him down, and then he feels like a loser, so to get the power back he can either catcall her, or yell that she’s a stuck-up bitch, or he can catcall some other random woman to feel secure again in his manhood.

Agree. They are deliberately trying to make unescorted women feel uncomfortable. In certain other countries, they go far beyond catcalls and may proceed to violence or rape. It’s about men trying to control women and force them into a certain gender role-how dare you walk around in public without a male escort.
This is also why the media is constantly harping on how dangerous it is for women to go out alone or without some man for protection, despite the fact that the statistics indicate women are much safer alone than with a man they know. It’s the “control” factor.