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Catcalling Might be Worse for Women Than We Think

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No matter where you're from and what your age, you've probably experience some form of street harassment at some point in your life. Catcalling has almost become an expected part of walking down the street (whether you're in sweats or your cutest going out outfit)—at the very least, we have come to the point where we simply accept that it is going to happen to us and there isn't really anything we can do about it.

Of course, that hasn't stopped people from trying—just last semester at Northeastern University, students, faculty and famous street artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh all came together to post anti-catcalling art around campus and bring awareness to an issue which is often swept under the rug.

Still, this issue affects college women all over the country—and a new research study suggests that women may have more to worry about.

The study, entitled "Understanding the Relationships Among White and African American Women's Sexual Objectification Experiences, Physical Safety Anxiety, and Psychological Distress," aimed to examine the correlation between sexual objectification (by means of catcalling and other methods) and anxiety over physical safety. The researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City sampled 228 women from a Southeastern undergraduate university and the results are startling:

  • African American women are more likely to experience sexual objectification, and feel a "fear of crime," than white women are.
  • For both races, it was the "perceived risk of crime" which helped link the sexual objectification to fear of crime.

What does this mean? These findings indicate that women are even more victimized by street harassment than we've previously thought, and the effects can be psychologically scarring. However, what we found even more disturbing was the inequality between races. Women of color were not only more likely to be catcalled, but more likely to suffer emotional trauma because of it. 

One thing we can be sure of is that this is a problem that is not going away any time soon, and we can only hope that this study helps open up a national conversation.


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