When you visit Argentina it will not take long for you to realize that you’ll have to figure out how to deal with catcalls. The attitude towards women here is pretty different. Catcalls are the norm here, and you’ll need to deal with being whistled at, called at, or air-kissed.
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 some tips on how to deal with catcalls.
1) 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. It can be frustrating to feel like you have to always keep your head down to thwart off attention from men, but that’s the idea here.
Keep your head slightly down and pretend there’s a barrier between you and the outside world.
2) 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. Part of how to deal with catcalls is figuring out your boundaries, both emotional and physical. Sometimes the best way to deal is just to keep your head down and keep moving on!
After all, you’re a busy lady with places to be and things to do. Don’t give these jerks the pleasure of a reaction.
3) 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.
Understand that things are simply different in different parts of the world, and nothing you do is causing that. You can try your best to blend in with the clothes you wear, and that might not also make any difference.
It isn’t you, it’s them.
4) Know how to retaliate
I know I just told you to keep walking, but when it comes to how to deal with catcalls 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. For Spanish-speaking countries, try “no me toques” (don’t touch me) or “no me molestas,” (don’t bother me).
5) Be careful
If it’s late at night, dark and deserted, don’t take chances with offering a retort or even with engaging with the catcallers. Just speed walk past them and don’t say a word. Swallowing your pride is a small price to pay to keep yourself safe.
What is your advice for how to deal with catcalls? Have any crazy stories of encounters you’ve had with men abroad? Do share!