3 Ways To Intervene When Someone Is Being Catcalled
A man calls "Hey, sweet cheeks!" at a woman walking down a city street. It's so routine that it almost feels like an acceptable urban nuisance, but it's not harmless. That everyday catcall is public sexual harassment, and it has real emotional consequences. Some anti-street-harassment advocates call it a human rights violation, and a member of French president Emmanuel Macron's cabinet has even proposed that it be made a punishable offense.
Jessica Raven, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), says we shouldn't just accept street harassment as an unpleasant fact of life: "It's everyone's responsibility to speak out." CASS uses public education, workshops, community outreach, and advocacy to create a safer, more decent city, and its tool kit of intervention techniques (partly based on the widely studied Green Dot bystander-training program) may help you stop a harasser in his tracks....
Call him out like a crossing guard
Command "Stop!" with an outstretched arm and open palm. Taking charge can stun and disempower a harasser who anticipated a submissive response.
Create a distraction
If you're witnessing harassment, drop your keys on the ground and interrupt to ask the target, "Are these yours?" Or answer an abnormal action with a discombobulatingly abnormal response. Liberate your inner actress and make a strange loud noise. Quack like a duck or sing at the top of your lungs. Those simple moves can derail and deescalate the harassment, so you can make an exit.
Lend an ear
If the incident happens too fast for you to respond, or it feels unsafe to intervene, support the targeted person by approaching them afterward and telling them: "I saw what happened, and it wasn't okay. Is there anything I can do to help?"