Catcalling – Take Another Look

Wow, you’re f…… hot!!

I can’t remember if any version of those words, or a whistle, has ever generated a successful hookup. Ever. Neither have I ever felt objectified, afraid, insulted or appropriated by anyone calling me out on the street. Political correctness disclaimer: I am not condoning or advocating any behavior that is threatening, or is not consensual. And while unsolicited ‘catcalling’ can be perceived as threatening and non-consensual, may I suggest a wider view?image

Righteous indignation flying through Facebook inspires me to add imy own version to what is beginning to feel like a very tired conversation on catcalling.

I’ve been doing a bit of research. The Oxford dictionary states the origins of cat-calling from the mid 17th century, denoting a kind of whistle or squeaking instrument used to express disapproval at a theater. Merriam Webster defines it as a vocal sound made to express scorn or disapproval. The Urban Dictionary says “when a guy gives the ‘wert whirl’ whistle or yells for the purpose of getting attention or hopes of a future hookup. Adding, ‘this is done out of the window of a car. Typically a Pontiac Firebird or Camaro. 99.9% of the time, a hookup never arises.” My research also unearthed memories of old cartoons. Wolf whistles from actual wolves at salacious Bettie Boop like characters; eyeballs popping out of pig heads as Porky spies a darling she piglet.

Catcalling, as defined by Webster and Oxford would refer to jeering aloud at really bad theater, except not in Portland, Oregon where audiences are so polite that no matter what we see, a standing ovation is offered. Or any sports event at which the favored player or team is unsuccessful at whatever play we hope will give our favored side an advantage. I have yet to see any general public outrage at what appears to be expected, yet intensely juvenile behavior.

But theater and sports are not what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about Porky Pig and the Big Bad Wolf. And we’re talking about a lot, lot more.

As a woman of a particular age, I find myself becoming more and more invisible. It now rarely happens; and while I still feel, and am told, I am an attractive woman, there is a poignancy to the absence of catcalls that those of you who are now offended or insulted have yet to experience.

What I have found in myself, and in working with men and women for over 20 years, is a deep longing of men to adore the feminine contrasting sharply with most women’s deep rejection of their bodies and their desire. Men have been shamed for any longing, and women have felt shamed for being the object of that longing, particularly any erotic longing (and this is not to diminish the reality of sexual assault and cruelty to women throughout history; that’s not the subject here). In this country, historically, we relegated that longing to seedy parts of town, strip clubs, sex workers, the magazine your dad was hiding, to present time, an even more anonymous, massive portal. Statistically, most children now have learned about sex and it’s version of desire by age 11, and that is via their phones, i.e. easily accessible pornography, of which young men AND women participate in. I won’t even begin to get into the misinformation and confusion created by porn. Change can only happen in a more systemic way through open-hearted discourse about desire. Meeting a catcall with ‘fuck off’ feeds anger, shame and a deeper repression of the desire that lives in each of us.

Whenever I was spoken to, whether from someone who was highly unskilled, or someone I would consider to date (that’s always different, isn’t it, if it’s someone I think is hot) I would soften my heart, and say “Thank you”, realizing that at one reality, someone had felt ‘something’ by seeing me. A sense of excitement, freedom, love, loneliness, longing, a desire to connect. Who knows? That acknowledgement supported my own self-confidence, and that confidence enabled me to walk through my life without fear of assault. It was as if my acknowledgement of desire softened their edge of longing.

We can be angry at men, yet I maintain this is misplaced rage. As long as a music industry is supported that continuously objectifies women’s bodies, as long as we are unconscious consumers in a society that markets everything to us with the often overt promise that if we we just bought this car, this dish soap, this brand, we would be perceived as ‘hot’ that we would be loved, that we would find happiness, we will continue to be surprised and enraged when this constant promise of desire unfulfilled spills out into the street.

I want to leave you with a powerful piece by spoken word poet, muslim Madhia Bhatti

Squirrel Reflections

squirrel tantraThere are three small dead squirrels lying on the sidewalk around the corner from my house. Actually one looks really dead and the other two are breathing but we can tell that dead is where they’re heading. My housemate is an obsessive lover of animals; I’m afraid she’ll come out walking the dog and want to save the squirrels or see them and freak out.

I think about the latest environmental bellweather about bees dying; are now squirrels falling out of trees? They are clearly baby squirrels, which I have never seen before, like where do baby squirrels live until they are large enough to shimmy up my bird feeders or eat all the tomatoes from the garden or hurl themselves against the window when I have suet out in the winter?

The woman I’m walking with who is young, pansexual and wearing a nose ring says we need to kill them, which I am sure I am not prepared to do so I go up to the neighbors house and Clyde is home and he comes out to look and the first thing he says is he’ll kill them and take care of it which is interesting to me in that “would every guy say that straightaway”? Definitely not the first place I went. And then he reminds me that they may be babies without a mother and I remember that he has been trapping squirrels and letting them go at the Chart House, an upscale restaurant with a view up the road from our house.

I didn’t want to linger. And I do. [Read more…]

On Paying Attention

Am I? Are you? Really? I’ve been guilty of speed reading recipes. Something goes in the oven and I realize I’ve skimmed over some essential ingredient. Or reading an email from a lover and missing the whole context of the note until I reread, after spending countless hours on some fixated emotional firestorm that ate up all the space in my body. Reminded again this morning after reading a piece from this too prolific blog poster (can you tell I’m envious, even jealous), Jen Pastiloff. In the past week she reposted a devastatingly intense piece from a woman who struggles with an addiction to Kloponin, which moved her to repost an earlier piece detailing  Jen’s work with clients at a rehab facility and an ectopic pregnancy that she went through. In short order she received responses with grave concern about HER addiction, that SHE was a client in rehab and congratulations on her pregnancy without looking up that an ectopic pregnancy is never viable or even what that is.

[Read more…]

Cultivating happy relationships and finding dishsoap….

I was interviewed by a very sweet man and woman who are in the process of a launching a six week tele-class. If you’ve read some of my earlier writings, you may know that I have somewhat of an aversion to the proliferation of tele-classes. And while I respect anyone that gets it together to sincerely put their message in the world, there’s just, well, so much out there. It’s like going to the grocery store in the U.S. Case in point. I went to get dishwashing liquid a few weeks ago and the number of choices amid the different types of soap were staggering. Not wanting to linger, I grabbed one that had the key phrase ‘eco’ on it. So now my whole household had been complaining “this smells like bleach. No, really, it smells like bleach”. Finally, I look at the label and it does indeed contain bleach, AND it is for the dishwasher, AND it will fuck up your hands if you use it for handwashing, which we all have been doing and I’m wondering why my hands are so fucked up. Now I realize I have culpability. I should have read the label. But I was quite frankly inundated. I just wanted the darn dishsoap. Which is my way of saying, in the world of dish soap and telec-lasses, there is soooooo much out there, how does one choose? What criteria exists? And tele-classes aren’t cheap. For men and women who feel some sort of desperation or frustration around their personal and sexual issues, dropping $400 to way, way more cash in the hopes of – pick one: [Read more…]


There is a profound little book, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. This book delineates that Resistance is the true enemy of ALL artists, writers, entrepreneurs and spiritual seekers. All of us who ‘want’ to start doing yoga, lose weight, leave a relationship, leave a job or commit to any political, moral or ethical endeavor, or change for the better some unworthy thought pattern or conduct in ourselves. This morning, I have: watered the plants, made broccoli parmesan, pulled some weeds, got grouchy at my partner for not following through on a personal commitment that had nothing to do with me, put dishes away, waxed eloquent about ‘other’ peoples lives and what they could be doing, and read emails. I’m sure there’s more. All this in the spirit of resistance. To forestall sitting at this blank page, any blank page, to deepen my path and commit to writing. To dive into what is the expression of my personal voice, to bring forth the genius in me, the genius that is in each of us. [Read more…]