Catcalling: Never OK and not a compliment

August 16, 2014, 12:16 AM GMT+0

Most Americans think that catcalling is totally inappropriate, but nearly a third of under-30s say that catcalls are 'compliments' not harassment

Most women, particularly those living in or around big cities, have had the experience of being 'catcalled' - having someone loudly comment on your sexual attractiveness. The comments can range from the relatively benign ("Hello gorgeous!") to threats of sexual assault. In recent years, however, commentators and feminists have been paying growing attention to catcalling, arguing that it represents an unacceptable assertion of power by men in public over the bodies of women. Others, however, argue that it's just a bit of fun.

The latest research from YouGov shows that, according to a large majority of the public, it is never appropriate (72%) to catcall. 18% say that it's sometimes appropriate, while 2% think that it's always appropriate. Men (22%) were only marginally more likely than women (18%) to say that it is 'sometimes' or 'always' appropriate. Asked whether catcalls are compliments or not, most Americans (55%) say that they constitution harassment, 24% aren't sure while only 20% think that they are 'compliments'.

The question of whether or not catcalls are harassment or complimentary reveals a significant generation divide. Under-30s are the least likely group to say that catcalls constitute harrassment (45%), and are the most likely to say that catcalls are complimentary (31%). People in the Midwest are the least like (15%) to consider them to be compliments.

Asked whether the polce should get involved, by giving tickets or even arresting catcallers, only 13% think that catcalling warrant police action. Most of the public (65%) think that the police should not ticket or arrest catcallers.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: PA