The Reason Why

When I was younger, I didn’t understand catcalling. I understand why catcallers do it now, but I don’t understand why they constantly pursue people who don’t want what they’re offering.

The first time I was around that type of environment, my mother, my older sister, and I were walking up 16th and Chestnut right beside the H&M attempting to get to 15th street. A tall, middle aged man abruptly stopped my mother. At the time, I thought he just needed directions. I was no older than nine. I barely knew how people had sex. I didn’t know he was about to ask my mother out on a date.  I didn’t know he was about to disrespect my mother by asking her that question blatantly in front of her children.  

“What’s your name?” He asked leering at her breasts. “What would you say if I asked you out on a date?”

I turned to look at my sister. She doesn’t look shocked. Why doesn’t she look shocked?

“I would tell you I’m with my kids right now,” My mother said. She motioned her hands at us to continue walking.

I wanted to know: What had happened back there? People are allowed to do that? These thoughts raced through my mind as we walked. When I got home, that’s all I could think about. Does this usually happen to her? Why does this happen to her? What did he truly want in return for taking her out to dinner? I got up to ask my sister.

“Hey, Nasia. Do you remember what happened with mommy earlier?”

“Yeah, how could I forget? Why do you ask?”

I wasn’t sure how to word the question.  Should I be blunt? What if I just-- “What was that back there?” I blurted out.

My sister looked at me like I was a doofus. “That guy was trying to get mommy in his sheets. He obviously only came up to her because he thought she looked good.”

To get her in his sheets? What? What does that mean? I had a lot of unanswered questions.

Just recently, I had a situation like that happen to me. I was walking up the stairs to get to Dilworth Park. I would’ve stayed underground, but I didn’t have any cell reception and I needed to call my sister.

As I looked down at my phone, I heard, “You look nice!” I looked up to see a man standing right in front of me. My immediate reaction was, “Thank you!” not acknowledging his ulterior motive. “How old are you?” Why is this man talking to me? What is he doing?

“14,” I tell him, holding my phone close to my ear to deliberately ignore the truth.

“Oh..I’m sorry! I thought you were older!” Of course you did! They always think I am. Just let me get to where I need go.

“You sound so mature though!” He said with a crooked smile on his face.

He raised his hand like he was saying goodbye. I continued to be polite by doing the same thing. As soon as I did, he grabbed my hand and held it tightly. What is this man doing?

“You just look like a nice person. I’m really sorry I--.” I zoned out to hopefully hear Anasia pick up.

“I’m sorry. The person you are trying to reach has a voice mailbox that has not been setup yet--.” Great, now she’s not answering.

“--When I was a kid, we didn’t do this. Everything was so different.”

This man kept rumbling on and on about his childhood. I thought: Why is he continuing to talk to me? I just said I’m 14. He griped my hand tighter and tighter. His eyes were widening. He opened his mouth and began to say, “I’ll just wait for you!” Is this man in his right state of mind? What made him think I’ll date him when I’m older? He let go of my hand and said goodbye.  

Are looks the only thing people see in a person? What about personality, and the way they make you feel? Is catcalling just for booty calls? After thinking back, I have come to the decision that now and days, everyone wants what makes them look good, whether it’s a phone or a person. I’m sure there are a few people who see past the good looks, but most of us just want something because it’s extravagant or name brand. Honestly, I even do it sometimes. We’re so used to what we want, that we forget what we need. Do you want someone who has a killer body, or someone who cares and respects you?

Comments (2)

Serenity Baruzzini (Student 2020)
Serenity Baruzzini

I think a lot of girls experience the same confusion and fear that you portrayed in your essay. I'm glad that you wrote this so concisely and didn't censor yourself. The repetition of certain phrases emphasized your emotions well, as did most of the essay. Well done.

Sara Frunzi (Student 2020)
Sara Frunzi

Kyla, your essay brings to light a very important topic, especially in a city as big as ours. I learned more about you and how you've experienced cat-calling in your life. Your writing flows smoothly and is easy to understand, though dealing with a sometimes difficult subject. Great job!