"Oh hey girl!", or why I don't talk to strangers

Tonight was a lovely night for a run. It was cool and a little damp, but still warm enough to run without discomfort. I got through most of my 5 miles peacefully, happily, and without incident, but near the end of my run, it happened.

I passed a young man on the sidewalk and immediately heard a whistle, followed by "Oh hey girl! Hey! Hey girl!"

Now, let's set the scene. It's fairly late at night. It's dark outside. There aren't too many people around. And I'm alone. What are the chances that I'm going to stop my run to talk to this complete stranger who is hollering after me? Absolutely zero.

I had my headphones in and my volume was low enough that I could hear everything he was saying, but he didn't need to know that. As far as he was concerned, I was rocking out to Killer Queen (which I was) and hadn't heard him. This guy was a little bothersome, but I didn't feel threatened.

Until he started jogging after me.

This is where my mind started racing a million miles a minute. What does he want with me? Is he going to try and grab me? He had at least 6 inches and about 60 pounds on me. He could have overpowered me if he wanted to, and at the tail end of 5 miles, I don't know how long I could sprint before my legs got too tired.

The guy gave me a few more whistles and "Hey girl!"s before he finally said, "I really like your sweet ass." I began to contemplate whether I want to turn around and address this comment, but before I made up my mind, he jogged across the street and into a neighborhood.

The incident was over, I was safe, but why did I feel so unsettled?

I've spoken to women who have had unfortunate similar encounters where their catcallers knew they were scaring the women they were harassing, and they derived a sick sort of pleasure from that. But the young man I encountered tonight did not appear full of such malice. I can't actually speak for his thought process, but I imagine he feels good about what he did. He probably thinks that his "compliment" was a nice encouragement and demonstrated that all the hard work I put into running is paying off. I don't think that he ever stopped for a second to think about how I was feeling throughout the whole situation.

I wish catcallers would stop and think, though. I wish they would put themselves in the shoes of the women they're catcalling and see how the situation might be viewed from the other party. I don't think all men are out to rape me, but in the type of situation that I've just described, you bet that's the first thing that crosses my mind.

Readers, do you have any similar stories to share? How do you deal with catcallers?


  1. That is terrifying, I think you did the right thing by not turning around and pretending not to hear him.



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