These Are Philly’s 10 Worst Catcalls, Ranked

To be honest, sometimes I don't mind a catcall. But I mind all of these. Well, almost all of them.


A sign declaring “No Catcalling Anytime” in Brooklyn’s Grand Plaza area, Thursday, April 16. A nonprofit company called Feminist Apparel says it hopes to have at least one sign up in every borough by week’s end.

I hate to say it, but sometimes, I don’t mind a catcall.

Ideally, yes, women would be able to walk down the street without eliciting any unwanted comments, rendering Fishtown’s fantastic new “No Catcall Zone” signs obsolete. In reality, well, sometimes “Looking good, honey” is the nicest thing I’ll hear all week. (Ever since resolving to meet this city halfway, I sleep better and drink less. Join me.)

The following, however, have no place in civilized society, or even Philadelphia. From drive-bys to bike bys, from the Northeast to Washington Avenue, these are Philly’s worst catcalls.

10. “Can I ask you a question?”
Not a bad strategy, really. Let me think that I have a choice in how this scenario plays out, even though you’re going to ask your question anyway. Well, can I ask you a question, sir? Why do you want to chat up a 30-year-old woman wearing bleach-stained Aeropostale sweatpants tucked into knock-off Uggs? At one point, you must have wanted more for yourself. I did, too. So much more. Where did we go wrong? I’m a double-water sign, and I just feel like my energy is off lately, you know? Is Mercury rising or in retrograde? Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind wanting to start again? Wait, come back – I have questions!

9. The Personalized Catcall
On the one hand, I’m flattered that you took the time to tailor this degrading comment to my body type. On the other, if you actually did like to sleep with tall girls, you’d know that this particular position is, in practice, nearly impossible without elaborate props. Nice try though.

8. The Literal Catcall
Wait – did that guy just “psss pssss pssssss” like I was an actual cat? Am I mad, or impressed? How does this afternoon progress?

7. The Dog Lead-In
It’s not that being interested in my dog doesn’t work sometimes. If you’re willing to walk Murph when it’s raining, pick up his poop in your hand and pretend like it’s normal to surrender half your bed to a sleep-growling shih tzu, it’s true — I’m much more likely to touch you. But yelling, “I wish you’d walk me around like that” across the street? Nope.

6. The Drive-By
I live in the real world. If you want to shout something out the window while cruising down Washington, sure — I don’t have time to be offended. But once you slow to a crawl and won’t stop asking me where I’m going, I’m obliged to point out that you’re a grown man driving a Pontiac Sunfire in 2015.

5. The Bike-By
Only in Philadelphia would a man on a Huffy feel entitled to rate your ass.

4. “Why don’t you smile?”
I’m from the Northeast. I’m probably not smiling because of a benign, workaday combination of flat hair, shitty parking prospects and “The Dead Files” being on hiatus. But now that you mention it, yes — I’m also pissed off that as a woman I’m expected to be a pleasing, congenial part of your scenery. Thanks for bringing this repressed rage to my attention.

3. “Girl, you look like a thick Miss America.”
Hmm. Actually, this was the best part of my day and one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Next!

3. The Northeast Catcall
It sounds like he’s just asking for change. But if you speak the native mumble, you’ll hear it tacked on to the end: a request for your number, as well. Frankford Terminal, stay weird.

2. The Clipboard Canvasser
You have to give these kids a little credit. “Do you have a minute to talk about the environment?” clearly wasn’t working, so they got creative and went off script. But if you flag me down to tell me how nice I look and then show me a picture of a polar bear cub stranded on a melting iceberg, it majorly messes with my emotions. You see, nobody likes the bait-and-switch, dear Clipboard Canvassers. It’s like when your fancy university handed you a diploma and then the real-world handed you a job harassing women on the sidewalk — not cool, right?

1. The Nonexistent Catcall
Nothing? Anyone? But I’m wearing my dressy sweats, Philadelphia! How dare you.

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