In June, Pagan-Lilley Motlagh-Phillips was run over.By two men on a moped. Why? She ignored their catcalling. The 19-year-old says she was mown down on a London pavement after ignoring the driver’s unwanted advances: “You alright darling?”

This is where the argument that catcalling is ‘a compliment’ and that women should ‘just ignore it’ is proved utterly redundant.


This is where the recent decision by Nottinghamshire Police to record incidents of misogyny as a form of hate crime (to much backlash and derision) is shown to make complete sense.

This is where we realise how thin is the veil between what women are told to accept as ‘normal’ in public spaces and the very real threat to their safety.

“Power imbalance”

With horrible clarity, this incident illustrates the power imbalance in our society that can make the simple act of saying ‘no’ to unwanted advances incredibly dangerous for women.

Motlagh-Phillips is far from alone. Earlier this month, it was during a carnival in Brooklyn after allegedly telling a man to stop grinding against her. A woman on the street in Delhi last week had previously experienced unwanted attention from her assailant, with the victim’s brother claiming the man had a history of harassing his sister.

[Still] not a compliment

Women who have shared their experiences with the Everyday Sexism Project, which I founded, have variously described being chased, hit by cars, punched, spat on, having bricks and bottles thrown at them, and being subjected to sexual assault - all after rejecting unwanted male advances. Yet, had they reported the initial ‘compliment’ that began the interaction, many would have told them to be grateful, to smile, to enjoy it.

Nor is it a coincidence that a disproportionate number of incidents involve the targeting of women of colour, transgender women and sex workers, who face even more complex and damaging stereotypes about entitlement to their bodies in public spaces and are particularly likely to face abuse when they reject unwanted advances.

↠ Source and rest: Laura Bates: Women are spat on, chased and hit by cars - now try telling us catcalling is a ‘compliment’

#womenslives: women are spat on, chased and hit by cars - catcalling is NOT a 'compliment'