Eight sassy Clapbacks for Catcallers

Art by Ina Jacobe

Bloody catcallers live in impunity in this greasy ol’ town. Reddit and Facebook comment sections are particularly rife with the Defenders of the Right To Catcall. “Can’t you accept compliments?” Oh, please. As if it was about making women feel good and totally not about the male ego imposing power in the public space.

This really was supposed to be an article about the legal actions you can take against catcallers. But that angle didn’t make it to press, because, well, there really just aren’t a lot of options, which sucks. For now, our very limited choices include: A.) rallying our local representatives to create city ordinances (just like Quezon City’s, four for you!), and B.) vocally supporting Senator Risa Hontiveros’ Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act that seeks to penalize cat-calling and wolf-whistling.

But in the meantime, here are a variety of counter-catcaller options, ranging from gentle to hostile, in case you feel like exploring moves apart from The Look Down and/or The Rapid Brisk-walk. I really hate how unsafe this city makes me feel, too, and these are definitely moves I wish I could do every single flippin’ day. Man, if only I could fart at will.

The Blow Job

Who ever said that whistling back with a legit whistle at catcallers was a bad idea? While walking, keep a whistle handy to blow in their faces and call attention to them whenever they do the good ol’ wit-wiw! Wholesome, but still startling.

The Don’t Me

The city is yours, queen, and don’t ever let anyone make you feel small. When annoying catcallers feast on you and your be-denim-ed legs, give them a sharp look, followed by an even sharper acknowledgment. Try “Hoy, manong, ‘wag ako, ha,” “Kuya, pwede ‘wag?” or “Sayang, pogi ka sana eh, bastos lang.”

The “Mini” Stop

Useful when you’re at a bus/UV Express/shuttle stop. When a lecherous leech gives you a particularly sticky look, pause, give them a top-to-toe look, give their groin area a long, hard pause, and go, “Mm-hmm. Ang liit naman, kuya, eh.

The Proposal

“Miss, ang ganda mo naman!” Did this ever work on anyone? Why do people do this? Because if it’s a compliment, it sure as hell doesn’t make us feel good, or safe. What are they expecting? “O, ano, kuya, date tayo? Sex tayo? Pakasal na tayo? Now na?” Definitely one of the dream comebacks.

Where Is The Love?

Sometimes it helps to remind men of the women in their life who love them. “Kuya, alam ba ‘yan ng nanay mo!” or a more benign, “Mahalin mo nga anak mo, kuya, ha!” should do the trick.

The B*tch, Please

Unleash your inner b*tch. That’s right. Bare your teeth and bark at particularly exasperating catcallers. This will work particularly well with wide eyes and laway galore. Don’t tell me this isn’t liberating to imagine.

The Gold Dig

Nothing like being trapped in pubic transport with a ogling ogre. Take advantage of the prison-like setup. Slowly creep in your index finger from your upper lip, then up to the nasal cavity, then, yes, fish around for that booger you’ve accumulated from a day in the smog-filled city. Opt to fling or spread on his pants if possible.

The Med Student

In Reddit lore, one story goes: A woman has been pestered by workmen in her area incessantly for a whole year. She’s tried everything — staring them down, flipping the bird, reporting to their supervisors. Nothing’s really worked until she let out truth bombs of the anatomical variety. As in, “Did you know the urethra is separate from the vaginal cavity?” Someone call Baygon ’cause this lady’s got repellent. Let the unearthing of appalling medical trivia begin.

Header image via the Voices of East Anglia


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