Blurred Lines: Where Does Catcalling End and Harassment Begin?

Photo: Jezebel

Photo: Jezebel

Last week Katarina Hybenova, founder of Bushwick Daily, wrote a post called Catcalling is NOT Flattering, why I stopped running in Bushwick. I was immediately intrigued because as a female who has been catcalled and someone who also resides in this lovely corner of Brooklyn, I related. As I read her story and absorbed her experiences, I nodded along as I recounted my own: groped on this street corner, followed home as men hurled stomach-churning comments my way near my apartment and shocked when a man asked me how much it would cost to spend the night with me after I walked out of a bodega.

I have lived in cities for about four years now and have been catcalled in all of them. I absolutely agree with Katarina that Bushwick has been the worst thus far. The men who prowl the streets say worse things, come closer to me and often don’t back down when I am walking with my boyfriend. 

I didn’t give up running, but I did crank up my music while running, walking or sitting in parks in my neighborhood. I look at the ground more near my apartment than I do in any other neighborhood, lest I lock eyes with someone and it starts: the confrontation, the lewd remarks, the feelings of vulnerability and weakness… 

And that is the point of catcalling, isn’t it? It’s a power trip that has the potential to make women feel weak. I am assuming that it has nothing to do with appearance as men hooted and whistled at me one time when my eye was swollen shut and another right after I had back surgery and was dragging myself along with a walker to get into my apartment. (It’s even less enjoyable when you can’t quickly escape the situation.) 

Katarina’s post responded to an article written by Doree Lewak in the NY Post called Hey, ladies – catcalls are flattering! Deal with it. I read that piece too, expecting to be shocked and angered. But Doree framed her stance on these grounds: “…When I know I’m looking good, I brazenly walk past a construction site, anticipating that whistle and ‘Hey, mama!’ catcall. Works every time — my ego and I can’t fit through the door!”

This is where we need to make an important distinction.

Catcalling is a broad term that covers anything from a whistle and a “hey, baby” to words that are much worse and actions that should more appropriately be labeled harassment. I have experienced both, and I think that writing an article that says catcalling is flattering to some, may enable people who already do it. It also may condone this type of harassment that already doesn’t have a lot of consequences. 

Is the root of the issue that catcalling is such a broad term that it is difficult to know where that line stops and harassment begins? Are there nice types of catcalling and horrifying types? Does it your experience and the way these hoots and hollers make you feel depend on your zip code? Most likely, yes, to all of the above.

Let’s look at what catcalling – as a broad term – does to many women. Many of the same women who enjoy compliments and maybe even a whistle from a stranger don’t enjoy harassment. Many women (myself included) have changed their lifestyle because of the more harassing types of catcalling. I know that whenever I wear a dress (even a baggy one) I should walk as fast as I can and keep my eyes locked on the ground and my headphones in. I know that I should walk on the other side of the street until I am directly in front of my apartment building because the same group of guys jeer at me from their stoop when I walk past. And I know that I shouldn’t have had to change my location at a local park this weekend four times – four different benches on opposite sides of the park – until I found a spot where I could sit quietly and listen to music without men approaching me and saying explicit things. 

Katarina suggests going to iHollaback.org to join the fight to end catcalling so women can feel safe walking down the street, wear what they want and not be afraid to go for a run through their own neighborhood. This is a great start, and I am hoping that these articles start a larger conversation about action that can be taken. Bitch Magazine talks about laws that can be used to crack down on this, but admits that verbal harassment is the hardest flavor of harassment to crack down on. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri suggests responding in “catty” ways such as hissing or clawing through the harasser’s shirt.

We may not yet have a perfect solution, but let’s continue the discussion so men and women don’t become inoculated to it and assume, from both perspectives, that it is just something that is a part of life. 

Pumpkin Poppers: The Perfect Treat to Pair with a Pumpkin Beer

It’s almost that time of year again. I know, it’s only August and I usually don’t start itching for that sweet, cinnamon-y pumpkin taste until September. August in New York City usually feels like a trash-scented blanket of moist air is coating the streets and clinging to your clothes. And that feeling usually calls for shandies, summer ales and gelato. But this August has been breezy – chilly even – and has thrown me into fall a bit early. So whether you are ready for the season change or you will tuck this recipe away until next month, here is a quick and easy fall treat that is perfect for any occasion. 

I found this recipe while scrolling through a 30 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall post on Pinterest, but the source is domestically-speaking.com. The best part about it is that I had all of the ingredients in my baking cabinet and avoided a trip to the store. I bet you have them too:

Popper:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup low-fat milk

Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

According to the recipe I found, these are supposed to be baked in a mini muffin pan, but I used a regular one and they turned out just fine. For those of you with finicky ovens like myself, I found that baking these treats at 350 degrees for 12 minutes (the amount of time that would have been perfect for a mini muffin tray full of these little balls of heaven) was just right for me. Make sure you don’t leave them in for too long or else they might crack! Although, that just leaves more areas for the cinnamon sugar mixture to settle into. No complaints here.

First, preheat your oven to 350 (unless your oven is like mine and burns things when you attempt that).

Next, take out your muffin or mini muffin pan and coat each cup with baking spray.

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You’re going to need two mixing bowls: one for your wet ingredients and one for the dry. The second bowl can be the bowl that is part of a Kitchen Aid mixer. Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in the second mixing bowl. Once both are individually combined, pour your dry ingredients into the wet while mixing.

Don’t overmix! The batter should be doughy and not have any apparent clumps of sugar or spices. 

Fill your muffin tin cups about 3/4 of the way full and pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Now that this step is done, reward yourself with a Pumpkin beer. Just make sure you save some to pair with the poppers. I chose Fire Island Beer Co’s Pumpkin Barrel Ale, but my all time fall favorite is Southern Tier’s Pumpking. The Pumpkin Barrel Ale has a solid pumpkin taste with understated cinnamon and spice notes. This makes it a great compliment to the very sweet poppers. 

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Now that your poppers are in the oven and your beer is nearby, it’s time to make the cinnamon sugar coating.

To do this, melt the butter in one bowl and combine the cinnamon and sugar in another small bowl. I added a dash of pumpkin spice and nutmeg to this mixture to spice it up a bit.

When your poppers are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about five minutes before rolling them lightly in the butter and then heavily in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Domestically Speaking suggests just dipping the tops in the mixture if you want a less sweet variation, but I am going to tell you how to make it even sweeter!

These poppers are perfect on their own and with a pumpkin beer, but I had some leftover buttercream icing from a batch of cupcakes I made last week and tried this combination. The result? Heaven. Think: pumpkin-flavored, cinnamon-sugar-coated doughnut hole, frosted with vanilla icing. Is your mouth watering yet? 

To gauge how tasty these poppers are, I can tell you that four of them were gone within an hour of them coming out of the oven. 

I would serve these as a breakfast treat with a pumpkin pie protein smoothie, a weekend snack matched nicely with a pumpkin brew or a dessert with a Pumpkin Khalua cocktail (try 2 oz vodka, 1.5 oz khalua and cream or milk – topped with nutmeg in a cinnamon-rimmed glass – for an autumn twist on a White Russian. 

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I hope you enjoy these!

What are your favorite pumpkin-flavored treats? Comment below or tweet them at me: @asanders88! I might just bake your suggestions.