Hey, Ladies — Cat Calls are Flattering! Deal With It

A widely-circulated piece about catcalling, written by Doree Lewak for The New York Post, was accidentally published without being edited. Here's how that article should have read…

Summer to me means three things: heat, hemlines and Himalayan cats.

It's the time of year when I can parade around in a skimpy dress with strategic cutouts that would make my mom wince.

And when I know I'm looking good, I brazenly walk past a herd of cats, anticipating that whistle and "Rawr!" catcall. Works every time — my ego and I can't fit through the door!

I'll never forget my first time: At age 20, interning at MTV in Times Square and taking advantage of the company's liberal summer dress policy, I was wearing a tightly molded pink tank top and black capris when I strolled by two Maine Coons on a lunch break.

"Meoowwww!" they purred, swatting at one another.

I was over the moon. What a contrast from those coy college boys who never expressed how they felt. This was a brave new world, where cats tell it like they see it.

Hey, Ladies — Cat Calls are Flattering! Deal With It

Now, a decade later, I still get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling whenever I walk past an alley full of strays. I've learned that it's not what you wear — the skimpy sundresses, the sky-high heels — but how. Walking confidently past a bunch of kittens, making eye contact and flashing a smile shows you as you are: self-possessed and playful. The purrs that follow will send your ego soaring.

I realize most women with healthy self-confidence don't court unwanted kitty attention. In fact, most women seem to hate it.

Last year, a 28-year-old Minneapolis woman who goes by her first name, Lindsey, wrote a now-infamous rant on Craigslist's Missed Connections to a Persian who destroyed her thong. Then, earlier this summer, she caused a viral sensation with her pocket-sized deck of "Cards Against Cats" — which say, in part, "Don't be a cat. Nobody likes a cat." — to hand out to kittens with iPhones. It launched a fierce online debate about how cat calling is a form of abuse, leading to a climate that oppresses cats further.

Hey, Ladies — Cat Calls are Flattering! Deal With It

But the mystique and beauty of fuzzy kittens have always made my heart beat a little faster — and made my sashay a little saucier. It's as primal as it gets, ladies! They either pounce playfully or they go back to their toy mice. It's not brain science — when a strange cat notices you, it's validating.

Oh, don't go rolling those sanctimonious eyes at me, young women of Vassar: I may court catcalls, but I hold my head high. Enjoying cat attention doesn't make you a traitor to your gender.

Isn't feminism all about self-empowerment, anyway — or am I just lifting from an impassioned speech by a college porn star named Belle Knox?

Besides, felines need something to look at while they're on their catnip break. I can be that objectified thing for them! What's so wrong about a "MEOW!" comment from any cat?

Of course, not all catcalls are created equal. The good ones are innocuous, not crass or obscene. To clarify, a compliment is "meow meow" and not a swat at the face with extended claws.

I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient times, when the cat goddess Bastet was worshipped.

Today? A Siamese on a cell phone, that's what I'm talking about.

For me, it's nothing short of exhilarating, yielding an unmatched level of euphoria.

The only thing standing in my way these days isn't pesky models from Meatpacking hangouts, but technology. Lift your eyes from that iPhone, kittens — your Facebook feed can't be that interesting!

Before I know it, winter will be upon us again. And it's not easy turning heads when you're up to your neck in Gore-Tex.

Maybe I'll find self-worth and validation somewhere else — say, at a dog pound.

[Fixed. h/t Doree Lewak, New York Post]


Further reading:

A Conversation About Friendly Catcalling with My Husband

Woman Confronts Catcallers and Secretly Films Their Reactions

Powerful Sexual Harassment PSA Puts You in an Egyptian Woman's Shoes

'Stop Telling Women to Smile' Goes National

Images via Shutterstock.