Wise Guys: Why Do Men Cat-Call?

woman_walkingphoto by bobster855

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week, they answer the following: Why do men cat-call?

Straight Married Guy (Figleaf): Oh boy, where did I just see a link to a TV clip of a woman walking up to men who cat-called her and asked them why?  (You can answer in comments if you’ve got the link.)  Anyway, the men all acted completely embarrassed when put on the spot about it. Which, I think, actually says a lot about why men do it: not because they’re actually interested in the women they cat-call.  Instead (based, I’m embarrassed to say, on my own behavior as a construction worker in my teens and twenties) it’s about a) letting other men you’re with know you’re straight — dumb, I know but there you go — and maybe calling on other men to confirm they’re straight too, b) bonding with other men through “bravery” — even dumber, I know, but again there you go, and c) attempting to compliment women you find attractive but (and this goes back to item B) you’re pretty sure wouldn’t actually be interested in you.

Feminist analysis would probably add other things like keeping women in their places, telling women they’re valued only for their sexiness, etc.  But I think those are only side effects of what’s really mostly male-to-male communication.  Which is why I think men are embarrassed and even shocked when a woman they’ve cat-called tries to start a conversation. Final bit of evidence: at least in my experience, most men don’t (or at least didn’t) cat-call women they think they might actually have a chance of asking out later.

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): Men cat-call because some atavistic impulse leads us to believe that it might get us sex.  Any time a man cat-calls at you, a part of him he isn’t aware of in any meaningful way is really hoping you’ll immediately stop whatever you’re doing, come over, knock him down, and have your way with him.  It’s like a mating ritual. Please understand that I’m not saying any man thinks this is actually going to happen (though there’s always Dimitri the Lover, so who knows).  This is all happening below the level of consciousness.

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): Simple: because they can. Guys who do this pretty much get away with it. There aren’t even any real social mores against it. Most of the time, cat-calling is inspired by a pack mentality of undersexed lowbrows, by guys who are intoxicated and emboldened by the presence of their testosterone-fueled peers to broadcast their sexuality, no matter how annoying it may be (read: very). It’s certainly a deformed mating call, but nobody really expects it to work. Like high-heels, it’s more about impressing your own gender than the opposite sex.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish, and our Straight Married Guy is Figleaf, the guy behind RealAdultSex.com. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Lily . wat happened to u was bad…but it does nt mean ..being male is bad..and by the way girls are also very much catcaller when they are in groups..but the thing is when they do it ,,,it is just fun but when we do it ..its harrasment..why??
    if u do that then may be someday..the boy do real harrasement..as now he enjoys..

    we all should be live in to limits..vaginas n pennises

  2. I find Te’s comment without much sense. Where did you guys hear a women that are catcalling?It only might have been a comment that they find some guy hot, not intended to be heard. We don’t whistle after guys as hungry dogs who want to mate. And claiming that women bring it on themselves is totally offending. Do also women who get raped responsible for that crime?

    Let me tell you something. Me and my friend had a horrible time in Egypt on my first travel there. I was dressed more than modestly, almost as a nun. Didn’t do anything that was not proper. Everybody whistled and harrassed, on the street and in our hotel, even taxi drivers, religious men passing by, soldiers and cops.
    Once we were returning to our hotel and missed the street. It was night and we got frightened when in a dark street we only heard whistling and catcalls at our address from some place. My knees started to shiver. Luckily finally we found the way out, but do you know how I felt? As I were chased only because I’m a female and considered by these men as a piece of meat with a hole in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would dress all those shovinist men in woman clothes and let them feel how it is to be catcalled)))Anywhere! It’s not important in which country. in mine it’s not a custom, happens only near construction works…

  3. Young males who cat call at women (harrassment) should be strung up with some rope on a nearby tree!

  4. @kb If a woman called some random guy stupid as you passed would you defend him or keep walking? What if you heard a woman say how some guy was dead sexy? Just so you know, women catcall too. I have heard women who thought I could not hear talk sexually about me. A point not brought up is it is not just men but women too, women sexually harass etc too. Sometimes the attention is welcome and sometimes it is not.

    As for calling guys out, well I am not going up to a random group of guys who are possibly intoxicated and telling them off. Not unless it is my partner or friend and they are offended or something. Also a fair few guys would assume one is homosexual if they derided their behavior.

    The woman in the picture appears to be pretty, I would probably “double “take”, smile or go talk to her if I felt like it. I do imagine though a few guys would get some looks and calls from more adventurous women if there were showing that much skin. To an extent, women bring it on themselves and I am a bit sick of the double standards.

  5. i don’t know what you guys are talking about, but that asian chick in HOT!!
    WHEW HOOO!!!!

    YEE HAW!!

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