Catcalls [es] have long been considered a way to flirt par excellence; things that men say to women to get their attention and compliment them. But there is an ongoing discussion about whether catcalls are really a type of flirting, or an act of aggression.
In a 2011 article [es], news agency Inter Press Services stated:
Algunos hombres lo reivindican como un halago y hasta una expresión poética. Pero para muchas mujeres, el piropo callejero es una forma de acoso que las ofende, las humilla y, en algunos casos, las denigra.
Some men call them compliments, and even a form of poetic expression. But for many women, catcalling is a type of harassment that offends, humiliates, and sometimes denigrates them.
A Google search [es] brings up results like: “Sweet catcalls to conquer true love,” “50 catcalls to conquer her,” “107 catcalls that'll make a woman's day.”
Many artists and web users have shared photos and illustrations to report street harassment and demand respect for women.
Chilean illustrator Marcelo Pérez [es] shared one of his pieces in which a woman describes her feelings against the so-called “compliments” that she hears on the street.
In the first image, the illustration's protagonist says: “This isn't a compliment, it's a drooling moron who hasn't seen a woman all year.” In the second image, she says: “This is a grab, a twisted kind of sucker punch.” In the third panel, she says: “This is a criminal screaming vulgarities (which are neither flattering nor seductive) on a public street.” Finally, she says: “This is the fixed and creepy stare of an unblinking psychopath.”
From Argentina, Global Voices author Jorge Gobbi [es] shared a photo from his Flickr account featuring an iconic phrase from the women's movements in this region of the world: “I don't want your compliments, I want your respect.”
Meanwhile, Marta G. Terán [es] shared a photo with the same sentence, but this time taken on a Nicaraguan street:
- Hombre: Ustedes las minas son unas histéricas, cómo no les van a gustar los piropos.
- Sí. Es cierto, cómo no lo pensé antes. Me encanta que me acosen en la calle. Me siento asquerosamente halagada! Amo que un tipo que no conozco y que no me guste me mire las tetas solo por ser mujer. Es un honor ser denostada de tal forma! Adoro esa forma retorcida y pervertida de admiración!
- Hombre: Ya, sí, ya entendí.
-Man: You chicks are hysterical, how could you not love being catcalled?
-Yes. It's true, how have I not thought of that? I love being harassed on the street. I feel disgustingly complimented! I love when some random guy I don't know and I don't like looks at my tits just because I'm a woman. It's an honor to be insulted that way! I love that twisted and perverted type of admiration!
-Man: Yeah, okay, I get it.
Finally, Facebook features a number of initiatives to challenge catcalling as a form of complimenting a woman and categorize them as a type of harassment:
Estamos en contra del acoso a la mujer con los piropos callejeros [es] [We are against the harassment of women by catcalling]
Paremos el acoso callejero [es] [Stop street harassment]
Mujeres y hombres en contra del acoso callejero [es] [Men and women against street harassment]