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Call me 'Lilly' all you want, but...

Why catcalling cannot be compared to violence

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Of all the sexual harassment and sexual violence that women endure, I dare say that catcalling ranks very low on the list.

Yes, being called "aw ġisem" by a sleaze might irritate or offend, but the damage inflicted on the "victim" most certainly cannot be compared to that inflicted by a true perpetrator of violence.

There is a huge difference in the intent, for one thing. With his low-hanging pants, giving us full view of his butt crack, the sleaze is intending to draw attention to the fact that he "appreciates" what he sees – even if he chooses to express his appreciation in a somewhat inappropriate and unasked for manner.

He is simply someone with very limited grey matter between his ears, and an even more limited vocabulary. There are ways for offended women to deal with these situations – ways which are empowering and even entertaining.

There are ways which, rather than assert a victim status, put women on the same footing by simply telling them off there and then. Or, if one is in a particularly jovial mood, replying with "awww sabiħ".

Besides, why do women have to pretend that they do not share the same sexual urges as men do, as if it is sinful to do so? That they do not lust after the six-pack and chiseled butt of the coach when they take their son to football?

When women raise hell for such a trivial issue, they do nothing other than create smokescreens from the many truly serious issues they face on a daily basis

Do they have to pretend that they don't visualise their lecturer naked? That they do not smile an extra three seconds when the tattooed DHL guy brings their delivery? 

Women discuss men and their bodies and sex appeal as much (if not more) as men do. We might not call it out as crassly, but pretending we are beneath sexualising men is, I think, a huge disservice to women and signals that women themselves consider themselves “unequal” to men.

I don't get this demonisation of men. When women raise hell for such a trivial issue, they do nothing other than create smokescreens from the many truly serious issues they face on a daily basis.

Look at how much discussion this "ġisem/lilly/sorm" issue raised – I am sure that while we were all arguing the validity of such legal redress, the true victims of sexual harassment and domestic violence lay in their homes and at their workplaces getting beaten, physically and emotionally, by men who will never be brought to justice. 

There are men who do not call women "Lilly", but call them “whore” instead, even in front of their children, or write it on their bathroom mirrors in lipstick.

There are men who suffer not from foot-in-mouth disease, but from serious personality disorders that, unfortunately, are condoned by our courts, let alone punished by €10,000 fines and two-year prison sentences.

Let’s prioritise violence and harassment, not trivialise it through such senseless agendas. Call me Lilly all you want. It won't get you "laid", but it won't land you in court either. I’d rather focus my energy on bringing truly abusive men to justice.

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