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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 and planning her next trip - in other words- living the dream.

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