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Me-ow: How to Deal with Catcalls

by Rease on February 18, 2011

When you visit Argentina it will not take long for you to realize that the attitude towards women here is pretty different.

When I arrived, I was hit on in the airport. Yep, lugging 2 giant bags and my dog, greasy hair and flustered face—I was still a target.

Machismo, which is basically the old fashioned idea that men are the ones who wear the pants, is still a prominent belief here.

Sometimes it’s chivalrous, like men paying for dinners or going on and on about how the world exists inside your eyes, or some other cheesy line. Other times, it’s just plain GROSS.

When compliments turn into words yelled at you on the street, it’s called piropos and it is simply a part of life you will have to accept.

Trust me, I am not the kind of girl who could be called a pacifist when it comes to men disrespecting me, but you have to remember that in this culture, it’s not all that disrespectful.

Here are my tips for dealing with the annoyances of being a woman on the streets of Buenos Aires:

  • Don’t make eye contact. If you look a man in the eye, you’re just inviting him to say something to you. It gives him the idea that you want to be talked to.

Moms contact

Creative Commons License photo credit: nikozz

  • Keep your wrinkled nose hidden. I know, it’s hard to walk through a group of smelly men who are simply drooling as you approach them, but if you look extra prude, they are really going to let you have it.
  • Keep things in perspective. Like I said before, you are in a different country with a different culture. In the US, if I got yelled at 4 times in 6 blocks (as I do here) I would cause physical harm to someone. However, here, I have to just suck it up, keep my eyes forward and keep walking.
  • Know how to retaliate. I know I just told you to keep walking, but sometimes you need to say something. In general, I allow each man one comment without any retaliation. However, if they persist and simply will not leave me alone, I have a few scathing comments I like to whip out for the especially pushy men who need to be put in their place.
  • Be careful. If it’s late at night, dark and deserted, don’t take chances. Just speed walk past them and don’t say a word. Swallow your pride and keep yourself safe.

What is your advice for dealing with these prowling meow-ers? Have any crazy stories of encounters you’ve had with men abroad? Do share!

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Rease gave up on office life before she turned 22. She believes in hard work, but only if it makes you incredibly happy. Rease is a writing, traveling, kid-loving, Spanish-speaking nerd of a girl who may be the craziest balance of 40-year-old responsible logic and 7-year-old childlike amusement. She is currently living the expat life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, writing for Travelated.com and planning her next trip - in other words- living the dream.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jillian February 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

After spending a semester in Florence, I got so used to the catcalls that I missed them when I returned. I felt suddenly unappreciated and ignored. Talk about ironic!

The best thing you can do is maintain your perspective (yup, its different in Argentina than the US) and ignore.

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Rease February 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Haha, I don’t think I could miss it at all. For about a week I had a guy visiting so I never got yelled at. The first time I walked outside my place without him I got catcalled 4 times in 5 blocks.

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glen February 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I remember in Mexico seeing a cab driver make loud kissing sounds to a girl he passed on the street — kind of funny, yet pathetic at the same time!

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ayngelina February 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Having almost been in Latin America a year now it doesn’t even phase me anymore, some catcalls are nice and call you beautiful and others are hissing. I ignore both.

The important thing to remember is that while they may hiss or whistle, it’s extremely rare that they’d ever try to touch you.

Reply

Ramiro August 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Bhatnagar provides the fwonloilg quote from the Ramayana: “Rama was born on the Navami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra masa (9th day of the increasing phase of the moon in the lunar month of Chaitra). At that time, the nakshatra was Punarvasu, and Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus were in Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces respectively. Lagna was Cancer and Jupiter & Moon were shining together. — Ramayana 1.18.8,9The conditions can be summarized as follows, according to Bhatnagar:1. Sun in Aries2. Saturn in Libra3. Jupiter in Cancer4. Venus in Pisces5. Mars in Capricorn6. Lunar month of Chaitra7. 9th day after New Moon (Navami Tithi, Shukla Paksh)8. Moon near Punarvasu Nakshatra (Pollux star in Gemini constellation)9. Cancer as Lagna (Cancer constellation rising in the east)10. Jupiter above the horizonAccording to the Planetarium software, it provides the fwonloilg date: Sri Rama Navami 10th January 5114 BCE Birth Day of Rama, Observation at 12.30 p.m.Bhatnagar continues: “By using a powerful planetarium software, I found that the planetary positions mentioned in Ramayana for the date of birth of Lord Ram had occurred in the sky at around 12.30 p.m. of 10th January 5114 BC. It was the ninth day of the Shukla Paksh of Chaitra month too. Moving forward, after 25 years of the birth of Lord Ram, the position of planets in the sky tallies with their description in Ramayana. Again, on the amavasya (new moon) of the 10th month of the 13th year of exile the solar eclipse had indeed occurred and the particular arrangement of planets in the sky was visible. ( Date comes to 7th October, 5077 BC). Even the occurrence of subsequent two eclipses also tally with the respective description in Valmiki Ramayana. (Date of Hanuman’s meeting Sita at Lanka was 12th September, 5076 BC). In this manner the entire sequence of the planetary positions gets verified and all the dates can be precisely determined.”

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The Dropout February 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

In Vietnam, kissing noises mean “come here”. It feels very strange to be out drinking with a bunch of Vietnamese people, many of whom are coupled up, and suddenly someone starts making loud kiss-suck noises at the waitress. I always used to think “geez I’d belt someone who did that to me”.

Reply

Brenda August 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Whatever you have written is too deep for me to grasp anyihtng I can say-Nice research You should send this hypothysis to some religious -knowledable ppl Let them evaluate-I m not qualified to say any thing.

Reply

Diianita August 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

Posted on Your are not worthless. You mean the world to soenome. You just need to find out who. And don’t ever try to take your life ever you are loved by more people than you think.

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