What Should You Do When Your Friend Is Catcalled?

e5bc23b64dc7d91bc261a84be8b7a2c5b6254396b9deb2e8af74850fffb63a71I experienced something for the first time the other day that left me in a quandary.

I went to see Finding Dory (quick sidenote: Wonderful movie! It has one of my favorite moments in any film) with two female friends. As we walked back to our cars after the movie, we were crossing a wide intersection when a beat-up sedan nudged out into the crosswalk, almost as if to get our attention. There were two guys in the car.

When we reached the edge of the intersection, one of the guys made a loud barking sound directed at one or both of my friends. Yes, that’s an assumption there on my part, but the sound was unmistakable, as was his body language as I looked back.

It was a crude, unwelcome violation of my female friends. They were uncomfortable, embarrassed, and perhaps a little afraid. It does not feel good to be barked at.

We continued walking, but I found myself looking back over my shoulder at the perpetrator, who was huddled down in his seat. I wanted to protect my friends, and I wanted somehow to show him that what he did was unwelcome. That it was not okay.

But nothing else happened. He didn’t look up, and I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t know what to do. Was there anything to do? To say? Is a busy intersection the place to teach someone about common decency? Plus, it seemed like the last thing my friends wanted was to draw more attention to them.

The thing I probably could have done was ask my friends if they wanted me to do something. My strong sense was that they just wanted to keep walking, but I could have asked.

If you were a guy in my position, what would you have done? If you were a woman in my friends’ position, what would you want me to have done?