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How To Respond To Catcalls (25 Useful Tips)

by Sonya Schwartz

It’s relatively common for men to holler at women on the street when they’re swooned by their looks or merely when they feel like it. This act can be unbearable and greatly discomforting for many ladies. To feel risk-free and avoid any potential danger, ladies might opt for less-ambiguous responses to these scenarios.

However, there are countless thoughtful ways to respond to these individuals to make them see how unpleasant their actions are without necessarily inviting danger. If you’ve always wanted to know how to respond to catcalls, take a look at these twenty-five best responses you can give.

25 Ways A Woman Can Respond To Catcalling

1. Tone things down

tone things down

A solid response that women can give to men that catcall them is saying something formal to tone down the situation’s intensity. For example, if a guy says, “How are you doing, baby?” or mentions how sexy you look, you can reply with, “I’m fine, thank you,” and carry on with your activity.

You don’t have to overthink the situation. You merely have to reply in the manner you’d like to be addressed. The step works because the way you interact with a person gauges how the conversation will go—even in a situation when someone is hollering at you inappropriately. Also, bear in mind that you need to avoid expressing fear to implement this tactic correctly.

2. Be direct about how you feel

Sometimes in life, you need to express your disgust for a situation to make someone desists from an act. A male individual may not expressly see how wrong hollering at a lady is until you put him in his place and tell him how you feel about it. 

Therefore, when the next time a man catcalls you out on the street, instead of saying nothing, be honest with your response and tell him not to make such remarks at you anymore.

Your assertive reply will be the best way to communicate your disapproval of the act. More so, it will let the individual know that you’re not someone to mess around with. This step may seem aggressive, but it’s the right amount of confidence that some male individuals need to see.

3. Give a catty remark

If you’re confident enough to take it all the way, you can respond to catcalling by making a cattish statement. If you can make the individual hollering out to feel threatened, it will convince him to desist from the act. However, you shouldn’t try this move if you’re not assertive enough. 

To provoke fear in the hearts of those calling out to you, accompany your statement with a mean look in your eyes to let the person know you mean business. 

You don’t have to be a malicious person to scare disrespectful folks away. You merely need to be fed up about the situation to communicate your disgust. Tell them to get lost when next they try to make such remarks.

4. Ignore them

For women that want to feel safe when male individuals catcall them, the best option is to ignore the caller. Sometimes, refusing to engage with someone that’s disrespecting you shows that you’re above them. More so, it reduces the chances of the caller making more inappropriate remarks.

You don’t need to be scared in such a situation. You merely need to walk past the person harassing you confidently, and the job is done correctly. Your silence will send a message and let the male understand you don’t want to be hollered at the next time. Implementing this tactic can be relatively useful when you sense responding won’t be profitable.

5. Flirt back

An easy way to pacify a catcaller and get him off your chest is by teasing him in return. If the scenario is comfortable enough for you to give the guy hollering at you a compliment, you should go for it. For example, if he mentions how sexy you look, tell him, “And you look charming today, too,” with a playful smile on your face.

The most critical aspect of this tip is to ensure the male individual understands that you’re using his tactic against him. He shouldn’t get the impression that you’re interested in him, or he might increase the intensity of his inappropriate remarks. While giving a flirty response, ensure you add a bit of sarcasm to pass across the message.

6. Avoid eye contact

Depending on the situation and environment, keeping your eyes away from the person bellowing inappropriately at you can help you feel safe. If they whistle at you, don’t try to find out who or where it came from. Keep your eyes on your destination and keep moving. Things will have a lesser effect on you if you merely act as if nothing happened.

Indeed, it can be tempting to want to find out who is whistling at you and to also determine whether they’re a potential threat. But bear in mind that trying to spot the catcaller will only make them notice you more, which isn’t what you want in general.

7. Make a gross face

make a gross face

Sometimes, your expression can speak louder than any of the words you may try to speak. If you can’t summon up the courage to reply to a catcall, making a nasty face will express your displeasure correctly. 

Some of the men that holler are women aren’t emotionless, which means they’ll be able to sense when they’ve crossed their limits. Therefore, the best way a woman can make a male feel bad about inappropriately bellowing at her is to communicate her disgust with facial expressions. There’s a high chance that the harasser might stop at his tracks the next time.

8. Politely call them out

A reasonable alternative to responding to catcallers with facial expressions is by being straightforward about things. However, you should aim to do this politely to ensure you’re safe at all times. Let them know how inappropriate and uncomfortable the situation is and how you would like them to treat you henceforth.

Ensure you mention critical facts like how they would feel if their mom or sister were in your shoes. The better you present your case, the higher the chances they might stop bothering you. This tip works best when the male individual is somewhat familiar and close to you. It may not be necessary if you might never see the person again.

9. Tell them that your appearance isn’t for them

One of the reasons why males call out to women on the street is that they feel they’re dressed for them. On the contrary, letting such individuals know that your appearance doesn’t require a reaction from them because it wasn’t meant for them can help them stop in their tracks. 

The manner you express this fact will affect their response. If you say it cheeringly, the guy might feel you want to initiate a conversation with him and might increase the intensity of things. On the contrary, being dismissive will make him realize you’re displeased with his behavior. This act will be enough motivation for him to stop bellowing at you.

10. Tell them to relax

If you’re keen on finding the best comment to make, this point might intrigue you after a male individual hollers at you. If you tell a catcaller to relax when he makes inappropriate remarks at you, it instantly lets him know that he’s crossed the line. It’s one way to make him feel guilty about his actions and most likely stop. 

For example, saying, “Wow, you need to relax!” will make the caller feel as creeped out about his behavior as you are. It’s a simple strategy that works wonders when incorporated accordingly. It would help if you aimed to use it when the person harassing you is nearby. More so, using a relaxed tone might help better than yelling it out.

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11. Stare them down

Staring down harassers may seem thoughtless, but it can drive fear and terror into their hearts. More so, it sends a clear message that you’re displeased with the act. This fact is why it’s an intuitive way to respond to catcalling. 

Usually, men feel empowered to bellow at women on the street because they think they won’t do anything about it. Choosing to retain eye contact instead of avoiding it shows courage and disapproves of that stereotype of women. Therefore, if you want to make such individuals respect your presence enough to stop harassing you, try to scare them with your stares. 

12. Express gratitude

express gratitude

Sometimes, saying “Thank you!” to someone bellowing at you can turn his words into a compliment rather than an inappropriate remark. If the individual’s intention was to make you feel ashamed or uncomfortable, they would be greatly displeased with your response. Therefore, you’ll be one step ahead of them. 

This tactic easily catches harassers off guard, leaving them with nothing left to say because it’s an unpremeditated reply. You can use this move in certain situations where you want to get away from the person hollering at you quickly. More so, it works great for both close and far proximities and doesn’t tamper with your safety. 

13. Yell at them

If you’re bold enough to express your anger to catcallers, you can consider hollering back at them. We don’t advise you to try this tactic in any situation where you’re not certain of your safety. However, if the circumstance calls for yelling back at someone making a raunchy or nasty remark about your appearance, you should indeed consider putting them in their place.

This move shows your temperament towards bad behavior, which might make the callers desist from the act. It also highlights how wrong their behavior is, which might push them to change altogether. If you can make them feel the same way they make you feel, you should, in fact, go for it. 

14. Smile

A smile is an intuitive reply to a catcall because it tones down the intensity of the situation. You’re not accepting their remarks, neither are you rude to them. You’re merely playing it safe to avoid getting into any trouble. More so, to ensure you can exit the scene without worries. 

This tactic can be relatively useful when you feel talking back will prove more harmful than good. Instead of saying something that might make a guy angry or violent, you should merely smile and walk away. This step helps you control the situation in your favor, and it requires the least amount of effort.

15. Laugh it out

Laughing at the remarks of someone bellowing at you will make the situation less tense. This process is similar to the previous point and helps you handle street harassment well. It’s also relatively therapeutic to women because it helps them perceive the situation as less serious. 

Instead of pondering how embarrassing or inappropriate a man’s words were to you, choosing to laugh at it helps you neglect it faster. Therefore, try to protect yourself where necessary before trying to prove a point that catcalling is wrong. You’ll live a happier life, especially if you experience this act frequently.

16. Pretend you didn’t hear

pretend you didn't hear

The major aim of a catcall is to get the attention of women. Men use this tactic when they know they can’t approach a lady and otherwise start a conversation with her. Therefore, a great way to respond to catcalling is to pretend you heard nothing. This move instantly neutralizes their effort to get any form of response from you and may discourage the caller from further disturbing you.

You can implement this tactic in both far and near proximities, and it’d work perfectly. However, ensure your mind is fixed elsewhere to make everything flow accordingly. You don’t want to be staring at the caller in the eyes while pretending you can’t hear what he’s saying. 

17. Make them realize how they sound

If the time and circumstance are suitable to have a heartfelt discussion with a guy harassing you with inappropriate statements, you can try to make him see how bad he sounds. Open up about how ladies don’t see the act as a compliment but are only spooked out about it. Make him realize that he’ll never be able to impress a lady using such tactics. 

Many guys are unaware of how awful they sound when they make such comments on the street. It might require a genuine conversation with them to get them to change their minds altogether. If the person you talk to is in touch with his emotions, he might be motivated to do better.

18. Stay preoccupied

When you hear a nasty comment on the street that you feel might be targeted at you, the best way to ignore such a person is to stay preoccupied. If they can’t get through to you, they’ll have no other option than to leave you alone. 

There are countless manners to act distracted when such a scenario occurs. For example, you can stay on a call or pretend to be on one, or perhaps, start searching for something in your handbag. The major aim is to avoid giving them the time of day, or you’ll give them a chance to continue making those remarks towards you. 

19. Nod incoherently

Women can make harassers feel uncomfortable about talking inappropriately by merely nodding their heads disconnectedly. This expression gives the impression that they’re weirded out, thereby making the male individuals appear lousy for their remarks. Once they sense that they can’t accurately compliment a lady, they’ll be unmotivated to continue. 

This move works effortlessly when you’re close to someone catcalling you. They might be unaware that their approach is wrong, so making such a gesture will pass across the message accordingly. 

20. Be cold towards them

Another response women can give to a guy bellowing on the street is to act emotionless. Your attitude will help the male understand where he went wrong and might persuade him to discontinue the act. Understand that you don’t have to fake warmth to feel risk-free. Sometimes, expressing how you feel about a situation works better than pretending. 

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If you feel offended by an individual’s remarks towards you, but you’re unwilling to voice it out, let your expressions do the talking. Be frigid to let the individual know they messed up. 

21. Roll your eyes

Still, on the subject of expressing how you feel to someone hollering wrongly at you, you can also choose to roll your eyes to communicate your displeasure for the situation. If you didn’t like their raunchy compliment, you should express this with gestures. Making this move will undoubtedly make the individual uncomfortable and may prevent him from repeating such an act. 

If the person is unaware of how improper his statements were, he’ll be more cautious the next time, which is a win for you. However, the most critical aspect is that you don’t conceal your annoyance or things may not improve. 

22. Pretend they’re talking to someone else

Another great response women can give to male individuals that make inappropriate bellows on the street is to pretend they’re talking to someone else. Even though these individuals’ remarks are relatively specific, convince yourself that they’re not referring to you. 

Acting negligent is beneficial in both ways because it sustains your peace of mind while giving the individuals little to continue talking about. In most cases, you’re not obliged to reply to anyone that makes raunchy remarks about you. Many women feel intimidated to respond, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

23. Avoid a fight

The last thing women should do in response to a catcaller is to try to fight them. The only exception is when the individual in question is a harasser and has made advances on you. Otherwise, you should avoid trying to inflict harm if there isn't a problem. 

Always acknowledge that your safety and life are more important than anything else. Therefore, putting yourself in harm’s way to prove a point to a bunch of catcallers isn’t necessary. The major reason why they make open remarks to women on the street is to get a reaction. Not giving them what they want will put you one step ahead. 

24. Could you take it as a compliment? 

could you take it as a compliment

For the most part, catcalling is inappropriate and feels more like torment than anything else. However, taking it as a compliment can help women change how they respond to it. Understand that no male will try to get a response from you if you weren’t indeed attractive. For them to be moved to talk about your appearance or mention a body part, something about you must’ve stood out.

Therefore, instead of thinking of the act as mistreatment, take it as a compliment that you’re indeed a beautiful woman. This move will help you think clearer the next time someone tries to bellow at you on the street, instead of reacting due to fear. 

25. Call for help

If you sense that some of the guys catcalling you are harassers who want to harm you; the best move is to call for help. We advise you not to try to take matters into your hand by fighting them off if you don’t have the skills because it might not end well. Instead, scream for help nearby, call the police, or merely run to safety. 

Try to ensure you remain protected at all points. More so, always try to observe signs that a catcaller might be crossing severe limits. For example, if he’s coming too close to you or trying to grab your body, you should always take active steps to protect yourself before the situation gets worse.

FAQs

What does it mean when someone catcalls you?

Catcalling can be termed as street harassment because it is the act of making unsolicited or suggestive remarks openly about a person in an inappropriate manner. However, when male individuals regularly holler at you, it could merely suggest that you’re indeed a beautiful female.

What is catcalling a woman?

Catcalling is the act of hollering or bellowing somewhat inappropriate statements at women on the street based on their looks or merely to get their attention. Male individuals do this in their numbers in close proximities and also from a distance. 

What does mansplaining mean?

When men try to explain or justify an act in a self-righteous manner to suit their life’s desires, it is referred to as mansplaining. This act is condescending and doesn’t consider the females’ needs or what they may desire.

How do you deal with harassers?

Your life is more vital than anything else, so you shouldn’t try to fight an attacker merely to feel safe if you’re not skilled. If you’re experiencing street harassment and you sense any danger, run to safety, cry out for help, or call the authorities to come to your aid. 

Is being catcalled harassment?

Catcalling someone on the street can be termed torment because a person is giving unsolicited and somewhat inappropriate remarks at someone openly. It becomes a problem when the act is repeated in an attempt to make advances

In Summary

Did you enjoy this article? Remember that in most cases, ignoring someone making inappropriate statements at you is always a thoughtful option. However, if you feel the need to lecture the person about their bad deeds, please do so. Kindly leave a comment below or share this article if you liked it. 

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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