Fotolia

7 Things You Learn About Society When Men Catcall You When You're Pregnant

Ad failed to load

Sadly, I have to say that I've grown somewhat accustomed to being catcalled or harassed when walking on the street, taking public transit or simply trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Sadly, most women can say the same. Thanks to prevailing sexism in a society that says "boys will be boys," and "girls are asking for it," catcalling is somewhat of a "norm." I was surprised, however, to be catcalled when I was pregnant. A lot. There are things you learn about society when men catcall you when you're pregnant; things you probably already knew, but spend the majority of your time trying to forget because they're so infuriating; things you don't actually have to be pregnant in order to know; things that women can't necessarily ignore, because it happens to us every day, whether we're pregnant, or not.

Honestly, I was shocked that I was catcalled and harassed as frequently as I was when I was obviously pregnant. It seemed that the more my belly grew, the more inappropriate comments I would hear from complete and total strangers. As each trimester passed, more men felt the need to comment on my belly, and because it was obvious I had sex once upon a time (although, sex isn't always necessary in order to get pregnant, thank you very much) men seemed to feel entitled to comment on my presumed sex life, too. It's already somewhat uncomfortable to be pregnant and in public, as so many people feel it necessary to touch your stomach without asking. Add the lasting affects of a past sexual assault trauma (an estimated 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted, so 1 out of every 5 women who are catcalled have a higher risk of experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety or traumatic triggers) and being a pregnant woman in public — hell, being a woman in public — is nothing short of difficult.

As a sexual assault survivor and someone who has experienced catcalling all too frequently, the things I learned when being harassed as a pregnant woman weren't necessarily new. Still, they were just as infuriating as the day my innocence was stolen from me, and the day I realized that being a woman in a patriarchal society is exponentially more difficult than being a cisgender straight white male. These lessons are worth learning and re-learning and then telling to those who will never experience street harassment or catcalling, because we can't fix what we don't know is broken.

Ad failed to load

Men Are Impacted By Unrealistic Beauty Standards, Too...

giphy

Thanks to prevailing social standards of beauty that equate attractiveness to thinness, I was extremely surprised when so many men harassed and catcalled me when I was obviously, ridiculously pregnant. The bigger my belly grew, the more catcalls I received.

It took me a while to realize that these unrealistic beauty standards thrust upon women by an unforgiving society that would rather women hate their bodies than love their bodies, affects men, too. Cisgender, straight men are constantly being told what is and isn't attractive, and even shamed if what they determine to be attractive (to them, of course, because attractiveness is relative) doesn't fit the social standard. I realized that so many men do like women who take up space, are larger than what is advertised to them in the media, have curves and big bellies and don't fit into a size 00 pair of jeans. They just don't feel like they can admit it.

...And Don't Necessarily Feel Like They Can Express Who And What They're Truly Attracted To

So, instead of just being OK with and accepting the body type they find to, personally, be attractive, they hide what and who they like. Instead of just being owning and accepting who they are, they conceal their sexual desires behind explicit, inappropriate and downright unnecessary catcalling because hey, it's just harmless, right?

Instead of learning how to express themselves and their desires in a healthy, respectable and beneficial way, they do what toxic masculinity has convinced them is OK to do: harass people. From the safety of their stoops or sidewalks or wherever else, they yell and call strangers names and suggest sexually explicit things, because they don't really run the risk of being rejected and they can simply say they're "joking" or "just being a guy."

Until we stop feeding cisgender straight men an endless supply of toxic masculinity, and grant them permission to be sensitive, emotional, and into whatever it is they are into, regardless of whether or not it fits into some predetermined standard of perceived masculinity, catcalling and street harassment are going to prevail. If we keep telling young men that "boys will be boys," and then prescribing to them what it means to be a "boy," more women, including pregnant women, will continue to be in danger when they're simply walking down the damn sidewalk, trying to get home or get to work or live their lives.

Society Thinks It's Entitled To Women's Pregnant Bodies...

giphy

To be fair, I think society believes itself to be entitled to all women's bodies, regardless of whether or not they're pregnant. However, a lot can be said for the amount of power our society (or at least certain parts of it and/or certain politicians who have been put in charge of running it) believes it should be owed over a woman's body once it's pregnant.

Everything from attempts to restrict or outlaw abortion access, to certain anti-choice laws that make it illegal for a pregnant woman to have an abortion if the fetus has a terminal disease and/or is in danger of killing the mother, to eyebrow raises when a pregnant woman has a small glass of wine or eats a safe roll of sushi. No one is going to be sticking around to help said pregnant woman once she's no longer pregnant but, as long as she's gestating, it seems that people have countless, endless opinions on what she can do or wear or the choices she makes.

Ad failed to load

...And That Pregnant Women Are Less Human, And More Human Incubator

As a result of society treating women like they're not human beings capable of making their own decisions, I think so many men simply grow up engrained with the idea that women aren't humans. Instead, they're pieces of meat and/or objects of desire; so yelling at them, catcalling them and/or harassing them isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, they're not really human beings, right?

Honestly, that's the only way I can even wrap my mind around someone thinking they can justifiably harassing someone else. While I don't want to make excuses or give men a pass (because they're grown, and know better), I do think that when a culture has created a narrative that dehumanizes women, men are going to respond in kind. They're going to take what they've learned and allow it to shape their views and their actions. Since pregnant women aren't treated as human beings, but rather like human incubators that should think about the fetus instead of themselves and/or let other people make decisions about their bodies for them, catcalling a pregnant woman isn't "wrong," but acceptable or, at the very lest, a non-issue. Sigh.

Catcalling Has Nothing To Do With How You Look Or What You Wear...

giphy

On more than one occasion I've been told that if I simply dressed more conservatively, showed less skin or didn't wear heels or skirts or anything that could be considered enticing or revealing, I wouldn't be harassed or catcalled.

Then I walked around pregnant, covered in sweaters with a big, protruding belly that society told me isn't very attractive, and I was still catcalled. Being publicly harassed has nothing to do with what a woman wears or how she looks, and everything to do with the people doing the harassing.

...And Everything To Do With Men Feeling Entitled To Women's Bodies

Women could walk around in cardboard boxes, with cut-out holes for their arms, legs and neck, and it wouldn't matter; they would still be catcalled and harassed. Women aren't "asking for it" by wearing certain clothes or strapping on certain shoes or walking around with pregnant bellies. The only people responsible for catcalling and harassment, are the people doing the catcalling and the harassing. It's honestly that simply and, in turn, that infuriating.

Ad failed to load

Every "Excuse" That Attempts To Validate Victim Blaming, Is An Outright Lie

giphy

When a woman is sexually assaulted or raped, it's not her fault.

When a woman is catcalled and harassed, it's not her fault.

When a woman is abused, it's not her fault.

Ever.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack