Catcalling can be easily defined as a derogatory or unwelcome comment, but oftentimes can pose a serious feeling of danger and a lack of safety on the victim.
Over the last few weeks, Lovin Malta has continued to uncover experiences that people have had in Malta related to street harassment and sexual assault. What started out as catcalling took a sharp dark turn in the second article of the series.
This third part of the series is uncovering a truth that is not known to many: men get catcalled and harassed too.
These experiences were gathered from a survey that Lovin Malta conducted two weeks ago, and also include anonymised excerpts from the many people that have been getting in contact with us in the wake of this discussion.
Some men with long hair have reported getting catcalled by… other men.
“I got catcalled once back when I had long hair. He was disturbingly flirtatious, even though I was a guy,” said one.
Another long-haired man recounted how he was once walking home and was harassed by pimps of sex workers.
“I was walking home one night, and about three men started following me. They were asking me to hop on in their van because they found me attractive and wanted me to meet their women. They started following me when I said I wasn’t interested, so I had to take another road home,” he recounted.
A number of men also came forward with shocking stories that happened when they were still underage, making the targeting of underage victims appear even more common.
“I was working as a pool boy, and a group of older women in their 30-35s were passing sexual comments. Please note that I was still 17, and this happened a few days before my 18th birthday,” one told Lovin Malta.
“I was 12 years old, waiting for my friend’s Mum to pick me up for a sleepover. Out of nowhere, I hear someone shout ‘suck my d*ck’. I look up and see 14-year-olds laughing at me,” one man said.
“When I was 17 I used to pass a group of sixth formers, and there was a lead girl who would catcall – I had to take a different route for a year,” said another.
Perhaps one of the most shocking stories of all, a 45-year-old man came forward with a story that happened when he was only 12 years old.
“While I was waiting for the bus one day, a man came and sat down next to me, took out his penis, and ejaculated.”
“I still remember every word that he told me, ‘int iġġibha?’ to which I answered no, not even knowing what it meant or what it was that he was doing, but he continued asking me inappropriate questions. Luckily someone was crossing the street towards us, and the man quickly got up leaving a trail of semen behind him,” the man told the newsroom.
“I couldn’t understand why my nanna had gotten so mad when I had told her, ‘nanna, there was a man on the bus stop who peed but it came out like jelly,'” he concluded.
Other men recounted being flashed by other girls or being followed on the street while being given suggestive comments.
In the 90s, this behavior was also around, with a man telling us that once a man showed them his penis while standing next to the dispatcher’s office.
And men go through harassment in the workplace too, with one man recalling one of his experiences at a past job.
“I used to work at a company once where I would be regularly made to feel very uncomfortable by one of my female co-workers. She was overly flirtatious to the point that the rest of our co-workers had also picked up on it. She would regularly walk up to my workstation, often touching me and passing inappropriate remarks,” he said.
He also expressed that while it never escalated beyond that, it made him feel like he needed to ensure that he was never around her without someone else present.
It’s time for this behaviour to stop being normalised and accepted as part of our lives.
Mentalities need to shift, and one of the most effective ways of doing so is through creating awareness, so speak out, report it when it is due, and don’t be afraid of speaking of these experiences.
Only then can the stigma be broken.
If you want to share your story on sexual harassment please reach out to [email protected]
If you would like to reach out to authorities please reach out to Victim Support Malta at [email protected]
Have you ever experienced anything similar?