Sexism and Machismo: the Attitude to Women in Latin America

Travelling as a woman will always open up avenues that are unavailable to men.

Despite being foreigners and strangers, women often connect with local children, young mothers, and old ladies with an immediacy borne from an innate trust in our gender. We are invited into Indian wedding ceremonies and Thai family kitchens, and given privileges that a male stranger could rarely hope to receive.

But a female traveller will also face prejudice around the world, in the form of sexism and discrimination, misogyny and objectification. She will have to deal with the resulting fears that may arise. Is she safe in this culture? Should she actively alter her behaviour, or her style of dress? How can she best minimise the impact of a potentially threatening situation?

Above all, she will learn to trust that feeling in her gut. The one that tells her, “screw the cultural rules. This simply isn’t right.”

Female body sculpture by Botero in Medellin, Colombia

Have you ever felt like people looked as you solely as a body?

Over the last seven years I’ve travelled through Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and both North and South America, predominantly by myself. Despite meeting numerous men who’ve gone out of their way to treat me with kindness, I’ve also encountered stares and shouts, lusting eyes and flexed hands from car windows and unwelcome heavy steps echoing behind me. Depending on the country, I’ve averted my eyes and refrained from ‘upsetting’ the perpetrator, or I’ve stared back sternly, raised my voice and made sure the surrounding people are aware of my discomfort.

Six months in India in 2012 prompted me to write a piece about travelling safely as a solo female – still the highest trafficked article I’ve ever published – which made me think a great deal about how many women are concerned for their safety when travelling alone.

So after eighteen months travelling through Latin America, I thought it was necessary to address the biggest issue I faced there. The one and only facet of Latino culture I have still not changed my opinions about, because it tapped straight into a core part of my belief system.

Being treated differently, simply because I was female.

Discovering the existence of a ‘machismo’ culture

After just three weeks of living in South America, I was walking through the streets of Cuenca, Ecuador, by myself. The stooped figure of a man in his seventies was approaching slowly, walking stick in hand, and I began to smile even before we passed each other. He was sweet; his suit looked a bit too big for him, and I immediately thought of the quintessential photos you see of male Latino pensioners.

What came out of his mouth wasn’t quite so sweet.

“Mi princesssa…” he hissed with a wide grin, turning his wrinkled and liver-spotted neck to keep his gaze on me as I picked up my pace.

My head was swimming as I marched along the street, thinking disgustedly about how many grandchildren he probably had. How on earth could a grandpa ever think it was socially acceptable to leer at a young woman like that?

People watching in Jardin plaza

People watching is an intrinsic part of Latino culture – and I’m fine with that. The objectifying, however…

As I spent more time in the continent, I quickly came to learn that this wasn’t an isolated incident. Far from it. The machismo element of Latino culture seems to practically demand that men make these types of comment, and I received them so often that I almost stopped noticing.

What I did keep track of, however, was the way it changed me. Walking along the street and noticing a group of teenage boys ahead, a cluster of old men, even a single male figure leaning against a wall while smoking a cigarette; all would prompt a stiffening of my body, a lengthening of my neck, a slight curl of the fists, and a quickened pace.

The cat calls and ‘complimentary’ phrases in Spanish of “my princess!”, “my life!”, “my queen!” were actually preferable to the more silent advances; the lick of the lips and teeth, the sneer and accompanying grin which left no doubt, in my mind at least, of what they were thinking.

Reacting seemed futile. The times where I turned around to glare seemed only to prompt further shouts. I learnt to grow casually wary of old men, young men, street-cleaners and shopkeepers; all of them strangers, all seemingly unable to let you pass them by without a comment muttered under their breath.

So what was I doing to prompt this behaviour?

Well, I was either alone or with other women, for starters. Any time I walked with a man the behaviour either disappeared, or shrank to such a minimum that I didn’t register it – although when I was with a man, he sometimes noticed instead.

Then there were my clothes. One of the factors that often arises in sexual harassment cases is also often referenced in terms of a traveller, because there are so many cultural boundaries you might be overstepping with your dress sense. In India, I was respectful to the point of deference, because I knew how important the act of covering a woman’s shoulders, cleavage and knees was to the local culture. Even if I didn’t enjoy doing it.

But South America is different. There, women of all ages are dressed in much less ‘modest’ clothing – particularly in the hotter, more humid countries – and I wasn’t about to sweat in jeans and jumpers for the sake of not getting catcalled.

Three girls with street food in Santa Marta, Colombia

We were heckled by Colombian men walking past, even as we posed for this photo, because our legs were bare. In 40’C heat!!

Does this machismo only affect me, or other women too?

I can easily say I’m probably more self-conscious than most women. I often feel people’s eyes on me – or rather, I continually notice where the people around me are looking – and I knew that I was often being stared at. So I would pull awkwardly at the edges of my shorts, rearrange my vest, and start walking more quickly.

Maybe I became expectant that this behaviour would come my way, so noticed every time. Maybe I focused too much of my attention on it. I’m sure I picked up on it more often than my fellow travellers. But it wasn’t just related to me: I often saw men gawping at other women in the same way – even if the women themselves didn’t seem to register it.

In the Colombian coastal city of Santa Marta, I walked back to my hostel with a group of female friends through what can only be described as a gauntlet; men lounging on either side of a narrow street, hands in their pockets while staring, whistling, hissing, and making lewd comments in Spanish at every foreign girl who walked the last few metres to the hostel’s front door.

Not just annoying or uncomfortable – it was downright threatening.

Children at the Bolivian roadside

Some boys learn the staring techniques from an early age.

During these incidences, I often wondered whether I was simply being too reactionary – too soft – and that other women might not find it a problem. Hell, they might even enjoy the attention that I found so problematic!

Walking through the narrow streets of Cuba’s capital of Havana one day, I found myself behind a Cuban woman and slowed my pace. We were both dressed for the July humidity; denim shorts, a thin, loose, sleeveless top, hair tied back, sunglasses over our eyes, umbrella on an arm. Plenty of skin on show. I wanted to see what treatment she received from the occasional groups of boys and men that punctuated each corner.

Also, I wanted to see how she reacted.

As we approached a group, I saw their eyes switch to her body. I saw them look her up and down, lips stretching into smiles. I saw their mouths move in unheard mutters – ‘Que bonita! Preciosa!’ – and their shoulders start to sway.

From behind, you wouldn’t even know that she’d registered their presence. Her head remained upright, her speed never faltered, and she walked straight past them. But there was no possible way she hadn’t noticed. The only assumption I could make was that she had the same mentality as I did: “Ignore them, ignore them, ignore them…”

But surely women can’t be treated like this everywhere?

The way I chose to travel in South America may have had an impact on how much of this attention I received, of course. I spent a lot of time in places that weren’t hugely populated by tourists, so I knew that the stares were often simply for being white, being foreign, and being alone.

But again, I’ve spent enough time in different countries and cultures to know the difference between being seen as an object of curiosity, and being treated like a piece of meat.

A butcher's shop in Palomino

Moreover, my major issue stemmed not from the staring itself, but from what it represented. Did these men think they were entitled to some sort of dominance over me? A type of ownership of my body that I was unaware of?

Even more worryingly: did they even know or care that their behaviour wasn’t only insulting and threatening, but also completely one sided, and something that women around the world have never been able to do?

What do Latino men actually think about machismo?

Of course, encountering this type of behaviour on a regular basis for eighteen months was always going to reach a boiling point. For me, that happened on a side street in the small town of Cienfuegos, Cuba – my last country of six in Latin America.

Stormy laundry in Cienfuegos, Cuba

I’d already realised that Cuba takes street haranguing to new levels, but usually it’s simply a selling tactic – not an act of machismo. Nevertheless, I still noticed the standard whistles and full-body stares that I’d come to expect.

A female friend and I had spent the afternoon taking pictures of the city’s dusty streets and its inhabitants, and were about to try escaping the heavy rain cloud that hung above us. We weren’t paying attention to the three middle aged men standing on the street corner ahead of us – but we both heard the sound they made as we passed them, clear as day.

A “chh-chh-chh” rang out – what’s known as a ‘kissing sound’ or ‘piropo’ (a flirtatious compliment) – and the meaning of the noise was self-evident.

My friend was from Paris: slim, petite. Together, we didn’t make an imposing force. But we both spoke Spanish almost fluently, and both had the same reaction. Indignation. Like a small whirlwind, we both turned our bodies, mid step, to face the tall Cuban responsible for the noise. A lazy smile was plastered across his face.

“Why did you make that sound at me?”

The aggression in my tone made the words jump from my lips like bullets. I could feel my heart pumping; the adrenaline raced down my arms and I felt shaky. I don’t often get involved in direct confrontation, but I simply couldn’t help myself. After eighteen months, I’d had enough.

His smile barely faltered. Instead, the tall Cuban told me it was meant exclusively as a compliment. “I’m saying you look good, chica!”

I explained that I didn’t care whether he thought I looked ‘good’ – that it made no difference to my life if a male stranger voiced his support about my clothes or my body.

Yet he seemed set on the belief that I should feel only empowered and confident after being ‘kissed’ at. That it was intended to be a morale boost – that he (and apparently all other men by extension) did it solely to make us feel good about ourselves.

I explained how it made me feel like I was a piece of meat and he laughed uproariously. Two tall women walked past our little group, and he asked them what they thought of the ‘piropo’ noise, repeated it for them so they knew exactly what he meant. The girl – a Colombian – laughed and said she didn’t mind it, exactly, but she could definitely do without it.

In an effort to make them feel how I did, I copied their noises, their stance, their facial expressions – I gestured towards my thrusting pelvis, pretending to be one of them – I made them laugh. But I don’t know if they truly understood the reasons for my aggression.

Couple speaking

In one ear, and out the other…

A half hour conversation ensued on that Cuban street corner. At one point, the Cuban’s elderly friend, all pot-belly and moustache, gestured to my shorts and the resulting bare legs I was walking with, and said, “How can you expect us not to pay attention when you’re wearing something like that?”

A fact that should have absolutely no relevance to being harassed.

playing dominoes in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Food for thought: men all over Cienfuegos were happily shirtless, and not getting a single word of harrassment for it.

My French friend and I eventually left when the conversation had turned, the tall Cuban saying that we were shutting ourselves off from opportunities. That we were living inside our own bubbles by automatically taking these noises, catcalls, stares and gestures as ‘negative’.

That Cuba was a different world to our European one, and we should be breaking down the barriers around ourselves instead of raising them higher.

I walked away bristling with rage, yet also strangely tired by the whole conversation. Men don’t seem to understand that they don’t have a right to make women feel uncomfortable for simply being themselves.

Other attitudes to this Latino machismo behaviour 

I wrote an article touching on this subject for the Colombia-based site ‘Medellin Living’, and the comments were really interesting. Some of the male commenters seemed sure that women – local Colombian women, particularly – were buoyed by male cat callers; that it was a boost to their self-esteem and was taken as a compliment.

Conversely, the women commenting – again, some of them foreigners but mainly locals – said it made them feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, and sometimes even disgusting”. One woman said she usually keeps on walking and says nothing, out of fear of something bad happening.

“It has nothing to do with how you dress or how you act, I’ve been out on the most unflattering clothes you can think of and would still get them (piropos). Sadly, I think it’s just a cultural thing for the men in Colombia and Latin America. I usually just ignore it and try to be as serious as possible, even if wish I could just slap them or something.”

Watching through the bars in Cienfuegos, Cuba

This Cuban girl might not get whistled at now, but give it a few years…

In preparation for writing this article, I also asked for input on my Facebook page. In response, one woman said this:

“I guess the question is if women in Latin America are rather privileged or not. Tourists might think they are not because of what they read in the media about abuse etc, but most of the women in Latin America know they are treated like princesses by men/gentlemen.”

When I questioned what she meant, the woman continued:

“If you go to Mexico, the man is always supposed to pick you up, pay for you and your girlfriends, open the door, throw you a party, ask you to be his girlfriend – basically behave like a gentleman. You can see Mexican girls experiencing culture shock when they go out with a European guy.”

There’s a partial truth to this. When I lived in Ecuador, the guys I was friends with were constantly driving us around and paying for our drinks – a lovely gesture, right? But despite being grateful, I often felt rather uncomfortable. Like something was automatically owed of me because of their generosity.

And I have a huge problem with women expecting this treatment from men, as it throws up numerous issues of inequality.

Unwanted attention

“I bought you a drink – fair’s fair, now dance with me!”

I guess inequality is what my whole argument comes down to, really; that by being catcalled and objectified in South American streets by Latino men, I am somehow worth less than them. They have given themselves permission to objectify me, whereas I could never do the same to them – the culture simply won’t allow it.

And why is it so one sided, anyway? Why don’t groups of women stand on street corners, arms crossed and mildly aggressive, wolf whistling at young pieces of male meat as they walk quickly and embarrassedly past?

One comment on my Facebook page stood out from all the rest, though. An American woman said,

“My experiences in South America have been overall better than my neighborhood in the US. I would rather be called beautiful in Colombia than have worse things shouted at me, but what would be even better is if all men would be quiet.”

But they will never be quiet. Not until they understand that they can’t blame their behaviour on a cultural idiosyncrasy, and instead look deeper to the real reasons behind it.

So why did you spend so long in Latin America? 

This article could be interpreted as a rant against all men in the continent, which is not my intention at all. I met a lot of wonderful guys in South America, and would never want to tar every Latino man with the same brush.

Moreover, I barely ever felt like these whistles and stares were actually intended to be harmful. It’s worth mentioning that I was never actively threatened by anyone – which, for a continent that would-be travellers are warned against for its danger levels, is quite telling.

A boy displays his mask in La Paz

There are so many things I love about Latino behaviour – and this goes for both men and women. The levels of confidence; the tactility between friends and people you’ve only just met; the passion and expressiveness; the constant desire to dance, laugh, and live purely in the moment.

But I spent eighteen months adjusting myself to every other Latino idiosyncrasy – losing my concept of personal space, eating guinea pig, accepting that things will never run on time  – and despite trying to gain some understanding about it, the blatant sexism and oppressive machismo culture is the only thing I still cannot accept.

I’m pretty sure that means I never will.

Boys surveying Cartagena

So now it’s over to you guys! I’m sure you’ve got some opinions on this topic if you’ve travelled in Latin America (or even if you haven’t) and I’d love to hear what you think about machismo culture.

Hearing what any men have to say would also be really interesting – particularly any of you who’ve grown up in/currently live in Latin America. (NB: any abusive or overly insensitive comments will be removed)

About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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280 Responses to Sexism and Machismo: the Attitude to Women in Latin America

  1. Polly October 23, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    This is a damn good post. When a friend and I went to Egypt a few years ago, we were concerned about lewd comments or worse, but it ended up being much less of an issue than we’d expected. (Hiring a female, Egyptian guide to show us around probably helped.) What was harder for us to deal with were the inequalities that were just accepted as a larger part of the culture. How women are treated on on a daily basis definitely reflects a community’s mindset toward them in general.

    Like the commenter on Facebook, I’ve never experienced as much street harassment per day/week in my travels as I did living in Brooklyn. One of my former roommates just posted about how she went off on some guys for it earlier today. However, it’s really heartening to hear about women like the two of you confronting the issue across different cultures and chronicling your efforts online as well!

    • Flora October 26, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Thanks for your input, Polly. I remember feeling quite obvious when I walked around Cairo alone, but I was also just 19 and hadn’t travelled to many places with a culture so unlike my own at that point in time.

      It does seem like the US has more than its fair share of street harrassment! I lived predominantly in San Francisco so I think I was usually one of the least conspicuous people to shout at in that city :p

  2. Sharon October 23, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I enjoyed your post very much as I do all of your posts. I do have to say, though, that I know it is unwelcome attention but an experienced traveller such as yourself should take it in stride when people in a different culture do what is normal to them. I am not condoning the objectification of women or threats to their well-being, but the norms are different in some places and we can get as worked up as we want but it will not change. As long as you’re young and pretty, it will be your cross to bear. A woman should be able to walk down the street dressed as she feels comfortable (although in one photo your friend has good bit of boobage hanging out for one who disdains male attention) but that does not render her immune from attention. I doubt if altering your mode of dress will help at all as those who catcall seem to be equal opportunity offenders without regard to apparel. I think your only option is to get old and fat and I’m not even sure that would do it. 🙂 For the time being, blow it off. It’s a nuisance. Like rude customs officials or people who eat smelly food on airplanes, it’s the cost of doing business. Happy travels and keep up the good work!

    • Fionna October 24, 2014 at 10:52 am #

      She doesn’t have ‘boobage hanging out’ she just d big tits! Nowt she can do about that

      • Flora October 26, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

        I’m sure Issy would appreciate the support, Fi :p

      • sabina January 19, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

        She sure does. Her shirt barely covers them…??

      • Mar Kel July 22, 2017 at 1:28 am #

        I’m sorry, but your friend definitely has way too much ‘boobage’ hanging out. Why would she dress like that if it bothers her to be catcalled? I like to dress sexy sometimes, but if you’re in a country where you know that will attract attention, why not put on a cami? I’m not saying it’s right for them to catcall, but sorry, she is dressed provocatively.

    • Flora October 26, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

      Believe me, the vast majority of cultural differences in countries around the world are things that I’ve willingly taken in my stride – this is the sole thing I have never been able to accept, though. And I think I make my reasons why quite obvious. Yes, being ‘young and pretty’ will certainly provoke more of this behaviour, and regardless of whether it will change or not doesn’t mean I shouldn’t analyse and ruminate on the behaviour itself. Thanks for your thoughts though, Sharon!

    • Trina October 20, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

      Sharon I like your response to the article, and absolutely if a woman is uncomfortable with the males gestures which would make mostbfemales uncomfortable then as you commented the girl in the picture maybe should have worn a shirt not to reveal so much breast..

      • Mar Kel July 22, 2017 at 1:29 am #

        Absolutely! I did a double take at her boobs when I saw the picture, and I’m a straight woman, lol!

  3. Naomi October 23, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    That’s one thing I don’t miss, the hissing! It didn’t matter what I was wearing either, the times when I got it most was when I got out from volunteering, sweaty and knackered and wearing the usual jeans and top combination. It was though in an area where you would get next-to-no tourists and I couldn’t look any more foreign if I tried but I used to hotfoot it to the metro as soon as I could.

    That said on the whole, like one of your reader’s comments, the comments on the whole were just the usual “preciosa, princessa, mi amor” etc. Whilst it doesn’t concede it completely, it is a lot better than what people would say at home (when they have the balls to do it over the street) as it is usually something eloquent such as “Get your tits out” or even worse, “I’d smash your back doors in”. Charming.

    In South America, machismo is here to stay (or at least for the forseeable future) but it’s an issue that is simmering under the surface in the UK too. At least in South America, the men usually vent it out rather than in the UK, it often appears in passive-agressive ways (I don’t think that’s the right term for it though?!)

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      It’s true Naomi – the longer I’m back in London, the more I’ve noticed the underlying machismo that English guys are putting out..

  4. Nikita October 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    This is my least favorite thing about South American culture (the rest is mostly awesome). I couldn’t stand being hissed at, being oggled, being called out to like a dog, being groped under my clothes, being told that I should kiss a guy to be “polite”… And I was always told to lighten up, that it was just part of the culture and I had to accept it. For a while, I did feel bad about it, like I shouldn’t be angry. But when cultural relativism means allowing yourself to be nothing more than a prop for men’s entertainment, then I’m not okay with it.
    But, as you mentionned, this stuff happens everywhere. I’ve been told way dirtier things back at home than in South America. Still boils my blood, though.
    Also, I hate when men (like that Cuban guy you were talking to) tell you that you’re “closing yourself off” or “not being open-minded” because you don’t accept their creepiness. It’s such a cop-out.
    Anyways, I’m really glad you wrote this. It’s nice to have a place to vent!

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      “..when cultural relativism means allowing yourself to be nothing more than a prop for men’s entertainment, then I’m not okay with it.” — exactly what it boils down to, I think! Thanks for your comment, Nikita 🙂

  5. Tamara October 24, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I echo what the american woman who commented on your facebook page said. I’ve lived in NY, Philadelphia, Paris, and Mexico (Puebla). The most annoying and threatening street harassment that I’ve experienced was absolutely in Philadelphia and New York City. Second to that, I’d say Paris (where I lived for almost two years). And after that, mexico.

    While in Mexico I heard the whistles and comments when I was out on my own, but I wouldn’t call them threatening (vs a “I’d fuck that ass” or “come over here and let me see what you’ve got under there” kind of comments that I’d often hear in the US).

    I’m now back in Amsterdam, where I’ve lived on-and-off for 6+ years. I guess street harassment exists here, but compared to anywhere else I’ve ever lived it hardly feels like it (is the same true for London vs. Latin America?).

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Interesting, Tamara – you haven’t felt harassed in Mexico in comparison to life in the States and Europe, then?

      • Tamara December 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

        I’ve felt harassed in mexico, but the major difference between Mexico vs. Other Places I’ve Lived is that I haven’t felt *scared* by the comments/looks I get in Mexico.

        There were times in the states and Paris where the comments were way, way more violent and threatening. I haven’t been followed down the street/through the metro station by guys in Mexico saying nasty things and what they would do to me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been very annoyed in Mexico, but I haven’t had any serious altercations and I haven’t been verbally or physically threatened like I was in France or the US. And really, how sad that “not being seriously threatened” is some sort of benchmark for street harassment.

        Disclaimer: it’s of course possible that I just lucked out/was in the right spots in Mexico, but my situation was this: I spent 5 months in the 4th biggest city where I walked alone throughout the city for about an hour or took public transport every day. I sometimes walked with another girl, but about 80% of the time I was alone. I also went jogging in the evening, or walked to the gym alone. I spent another 4 months in a smaller university town, where I typically rode a bike most places. I traveled quite a bit throughout central Mexico and some southern states, but I didn’t spend any time in the north. When I traveled, I was almost always with my boyfriend or other friends. My boyfriend’s family is from Mexico City and we have spent a lot of time there, but we are generally always together in that case.

        • Flora January 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

          It’s a weird one, isn’t it: I felt way more harassed on a regular basis in Latin America but barely ever felt actually threatened by it – it was more about feeling objectified and that obviously angered me. But the treatment I’ve had in other countries (i.e. in Egypt and a few European cities, including Paris) has been much more threatening.

  6. Geeky Explorer October 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Very interesting perspective. In Portugal it’s the same: the society is still very structured in terms of the man being the dominant gender, even if people don’t admit it. Most of it it’s to define the women as a sexual object, specially in street harassment.
    It must be uncomfortable for the women but if you think well, this machismo thing can be taken to extremes, like some Islamic countries.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      I haven’t spent enough time travelling in Islamic countries so I can’t really comment on the street harassment that women go through there, but it’s undeniable that basically every country in the world sees men as the dominant gender, as you said.

  7. Pauline October 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Having never stepped foot on Latin American soil until recently, I’ve never “got” the whole business on catcalling. And then I went to Mexico City for a few days and I finally understood what so many have been talking about.

    There was one instance where a middle-aged man looked at me from top to bottom, stared, and said “Oh baby”. It left me feeling disgusted and extremely grossed out. It’s not like I was wearing anything revealing. For goodness’ sake, I had on a pair of 3/4 pants and a long sleeve shirt yet I was still on the receiving end of comments like that.

    Despite being traumatized, it won’t prevent me from going back to Latin America, though. The rest of my time there was beautiful and a great experience.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      I’m really glad to hear that experience won’t deter you from travelling in Latin America, Pauline 🙂 Despite writing this piece (and getting pretty vehement about the issue), it’s still the best continent I’ve ever travelled in!

    • jimmy sizzle August 5, 2015 at 2:42 am #

      This is exactly why men who have a sac of nuts are leaving the united states in droves. you get creeped out when older men admire you? you can´t just laugh when a drunk or non drunk older man exclaims in a manner that indicates he has some semblance of testosterone running through his body? I get little old ladies constantly telling me how nice my eyes or they straight up tell me i am beautiful. and younger women here unlike in the usa are respectful of older men and even will flirt a little or hold my arm affectionately on the regular here in Colombia. In Miami NW I had cuban girls with no english half my age calling me mi ninito mi amor and with a nice glare in their eyes as well. I catch girls way older and way younger literally staring or checking me out and know it is human… Years ago I would hear sweetie and get similar comments from much older women in the South. Sadly the United States has become a wasteland of culture, men who are wimps, women who have no respect for men, and gay people who aren´t gay. OH how I love COlombia let me count the ways… my church is respected…women are respectful of men… young people are respectful of older people..families take care of the kids and the elderly… manners! social skills! internet cafes! Eye contact! It is sir and mam society! Si Senior… People have self confidence!!! there arent tv screens everywhere… public transportation!!! Peole have jobs by the time they are twenty! People marry and have kids young!!! Have a wonderful day…

      • John September 7, 2015 at 12:59 am #

        Yes! 2nd and 3rd wave feminists hate everything about the natural man! You can hear the influence of feminism in this entire discussion. Do you women want to change the entire world until men no longer objectify beautiful young women? What right do you have to go to another country and to become infuriated with their culture and society just because it doesn’t match up with what you learned in your liberal university!!!!!!!!! Men of America, move to Latin America where women are still women.

        • Cristina September 14, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

          Dont be stupid

          • jim james September 14, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

            Decoded that means ” dont be accurate.”

          • Mike September 18, 2015 at 5:37 am #

            no, she means don’t be stupid. i am a straight male and the fact that you don’t even understand what these woman are talking about means that you’re completely self-absorbed.

        • jim james September 18, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

          Mike.. ah no , white knighting isnt attractive ..these women are perfectly capable of holding their own in a debate. I give them more credit than others running to there aid.

          • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

            There is a different between a disgusting come-on or nonverbal, animalistic hiss or growl and a nice compliment (no, I don’t mind it when someone says “you’re pretty” or “you’re beautiful” or “you have nice eyes” if they are not doing it lecherously/in an objectifying or leering way–which is threatening and humiliating, as it is designed to be).

            You seem not to understand that women have far worse things yelled at them all the time. We are also followed, molested, groped and otherwise attacked, and raped, which makes this behavior implicitly threatening in a way that a woman telling you you’re cute is not. (And yes, ALL women have had experiences of at least mild sexual assault, usually repeatedly, throughout their adolescence and adulthood). I have been followed, had men follow me and repeatedly try to stick their hands down my pants and under my shirt despite my trying to get away and yelling at them, have been groped, forcibly kissed, digitally penetrated, and raped. And this is all on a continuum of the kind of behavior that is street harassment.

            Street harassment is a way of saying women are not allowed in public. It is a way of saying women are only good insofar as men find them attractive and want to fuck them. It is at best annoying and at worst demeaning, humiliating, and threatening. And considering not only the ongoing oppression of women but the context of male sexual violence against women, it’s obviously threatening, and in no way related to a man’s experience of women’s compliments (and often in no way complimentary, nor is it designed to be complimentary, whatever the men might say). It is absolutely machismo and entrenched sexism and male entitlement to women. Women might say things to you in more intimate, enclosed spaces, or when you’re speaking to them, but I doubt they tell you you’re good-looking as they’re simply walking past you, or leer at you, or yell disgusting things at you, or follow and stalk you, much less any of the other violence I mentioned.

            You, sir, are an idiot.

          • jim james October 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

            Congratulations in covering all the squares in Feminist Bingo.

            While you claim to have had personal experiences , which I will assume to have some validity for the sake of this debate — the country wide occurances as evidenced by real statistics , does not support your “oppression of women ” thesis.

            Rapes have been falling for decades now. They are a fraction of 1%. Fail.

          • Molina October 13, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

            I beg to differ.
            I appreciate what Mike said, and how he said it. You have a tendancy to make huge leaps of assumption. You cast aspersions, generalize, and condescend, all the while claiming to “give them credit”.
            Gee thanks.

          • Molina October 13, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

            I just read your last reply Jim. The one to unabashedvslabash.

            Shame on you.
            I’m not much for shaming, but seriously.
            You are exactly the same as the catcallers in the streets. You cloak your words, pretend to be having a duscussion, when in actuality you are a bully. A common thug, interested in nothing more than invalidating and demeaning the posts in here.
            Took me awhile, I tend towards giving people the benifit of the doubt. Bully has now shown his true colors. Bye bye Jim, leaving this post and your witless rants.

          • jim james October 13, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

            I hold to what I have said. No shame felt.
            I call out the double standards and inaccuracies of some commentors here. I never denied their own experiences of harrassment …let me qualify that , genuine harrassment.

            IMO its inability to accept difference in opinion ..dont factually counter anything I say .. just get upset. Kind of like the level of discourse on Universities today.

          • sabina January 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

            Thanks, Jim. I agree that, if the catcalling is creepy, lecherous and disrespectful, sure it’s non-accaptable. However, if you look at it from the cultural perspective you described so eloquently, being woven into a culture of gallantry and respect, being called beautiful and princessa can be looked at like water given to a flower – the flower blooms a little more for a moment. And no woman can tell me that she always, 100 %, only dresses nicely for herself. Also, if the man giving her attention was a guy she desires in return, I think she would suddenly be more amenable to admiration. And good point – any woman seems to think it’s fine to draw attention to a man’s good looks, especially older ladies seem to hold a free pass under the umbrella of “cute and innocent’. Also, if you were able to overhear girls talk about boys – objectification galore, just not openly.

            The feminine is beautiful. The masculine will always be drawn to it, unti the end of time, otherwise we’d cease to exist eventually. It’s how it’s done, not that it’s done. And the new generation feminists are sure seeming to eradicate any archetypal, romantic, gallant bone in any man’s body, to the point where a man has to be afraid of even looking at a woman. It’s the pendulum swinging too far the other way, and not leaving room for balance. I’ve travelled in Italy, Spain and Portugal, and i laughed and smiled through the cat calling, knowing that I had nothing to fear, and my self-confidence saw me through months of travelling alone, with never a bad incident. However, in North American culture, where I’ve been living, I don’t feel that way. Why? Because sexuality has gone underground, and comes out in demeaning, dirty ways, even violent at times, devoid of ANY gallantry or reverence. The big difference is that women get desired, but men feel shame over that, imbedded in a culture that demeans and utterly objectifies women in mainstream media everywhere, and subsequently their desire seems to turn into hate and disrespect, whereas in Latin cultures, it is an extension of mostly respectful and playful admiration. I wish those new feminists would care to dig a little deeper and get a better understanding. But overall, it’s just one more symptom of the repression of sexuality/sensuality in North American culture, and until this has been healed, and sexuality has been reintegrated into the mainstream culture, like it has to a degree in Latino countries, it will continue to come out in warped and unhealthy ways.

          • jim james January 19, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

            Brilliant commentary..even if I dont 100% agree with it I massively respect it.

          • Byln August 30, 2016 at 4:04 am #

            You have been roasted the roast lasted for a year
            Good job unabashedcalabash you got Jim schooled! #likeagirl

        • Pedro March 15, 2016 at 1:46 am #

          John i fuck a lot whore in latin america

        • Amy May 9, 2016 at 9:13 am #

          Ha! Love it. I am an attractive (I think) 33 year old woman that has bartended and managed restaurant/bars. I have worked with many Mexican men as well as men from other Latino cultures. I find this article so ridiculous! Yes these men are more vocal in their appreciation of women than men of some other cultures, but a kissing noise or being called princess considered harassment and borderline threatening? Come on! Learn to accept a compliment! A simple thank you would probably save you from further comments being made, likely they continue because of you apparent and unwarranted discomfort. If you do not have enough confidence to accept the compliment or blow off comment for what it is( harmless boys being boys, unless of course a personal boundary is crossed) then it’s probably best to just ignore. IGNORE! U aren’t going to change their culture, or the nature of men, nor do you have any right to!

          • Ariadna April 25, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

            Nature is nature,and NOT wanting to treat a woman as a human being despite finding her sexy is another. You don’t seem to find the difference,my dear.

          • Ariadna April 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

            P.S: because that’s what the article is about,in general…Not naturally-drawn-to-women-men,but perverts.

      • Diego December 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

        Couldn’t have said it better myself!

      • JamesDeep December 3, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

        Good Post Sir ,,,,

  8. Georgia October 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    Really interesting post Fiona. At university I studied the culture of ‘machismo’ in Latin America – it was part of a very odd module called ‘Wenches, Hombres and Machos: Gender and Sexuality in the Americas’, and was always curious about how the culture manifested itself in reality.
    Earlier this year I finally visited Mexico, and was really happy to find the warnings about wolf-whistling and sexual comments about my appearance didn’t appear to be true. Until I arrived in Merida. The first day I did what I’d been doing in Isla Mujeres, Valladolid and PDC, I went out wearing a dress. A really, really big mistake.
    Everywhere I went I got shouts and whistles of ‘Bonita Senorita!’ and ‘I like your tattoo’ – my tattoo being high up on my thigh. Knowing men were actively watching me, leering at me and making comments – including a police officer – was beyond creepy. One even took a picture on his phone.

    For the rest of my time in Merida I emulated the local women, who never seemed to wear skirts or dresses, except for the older ladies, who wore long skirts. I couldn’t bear to wear jeans in the 35 degree heat, but some baggy hareem pants did the trick. I enjoyed my time there a lot more after that – bare shoulders and chests didn’t attract too much attention surprisingly – it seemed to be a leg thing!

    I never felt in danger, or particularly offended, but it definitely make me feel uncomfortable – you can bet I rushed back that first evening to get changed into something that covered my legs.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      That sounds like such a fascinating module, Georgia! Obviously it totally depends on the places you travel to – and weirdly enough, you have to pick up on what part of your bare body elicits the most negative responses. Glad you were able to enjoy your time in Merida.. although I wish that enjoyment didn’t have to be based on what clothes you wore.

  9. small hunter kansas chiefs October 24, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  10. Florencia October 25, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Guess I can write in Spanish…?

    Soy de Argentina y toda mi vida viví acá. El machismo es muy frecuente en nuestro país también, al punto de que muchas mujeres y grupos feministas están intentando hacer algo al respecto generando consciencia a través de los medios de comunicación y las redes sociales.

    Aún así, este tipo de prácticas o costumbres tan arraigadas en la cultura son difíciles de erradicar. En mi país, la televisión es uno de los medios que más las promueven, a través de programas que transmiten valores que tergiversan la moral y las buenas costumbres e incitan a la violencia verbal y no verbal hacia la mujer y a la cosificación.

    Afortunadamente, la universidad me ha dado la posibilidad de conocer grupos que trabajan en diferentes áreas y que se movilizan para cambiar esta realidad: desde grupos políticos feministas que luchan por la igualdad de género hasta grupos de varones que organizan charlas para generar consciencia entre el género masculino.

    Genial tu post, Flora, siempre es interesante leer sobre un tema en común pero desde otra perspectiva.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      Muchas gracias Florencia 🙂 Claro, es tan dificil de erradicar machismo y otras partes de una cultura.. Pero es muy bueno escuchar que su universidad en Argentina (y otras universidades, espero?!) tiene programas para luchar por la igualdad 🙂 Es tan importante que los varones entienden esta tema, no solo las mujeres!

      • Joe Lop June 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

        gender inequality? Wait women in Argentina can’t vote?WOW I don’t know

        • IkeKnight September 12, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

          Women in Argentina most definitely can vote & the current Head of State is President Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, a female. Women gained the right to vote in 1949.

      • dope December 20, 2015 at 10:39 am #

        Your Spanish is horrible.

        • Flora December 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

          ¿Por qué no lo dijiste “tu español es horrible”? Que pena…

    • ravenfyhre August 3, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      Posiblemente sea porque estoy estudiando ingenieria (perdon, no tengo tildes en este sistema operativo y no tengo muchas ganas de instalar espanol), pero al menos en la carrera somo todos numeritos asi que no hay ningun problema.
      Y al menos en las empresas muchas veces tampoco importa si sos hombre o mujer, sos un numerito mas, lo cual me parece perfecto.

  11. Katie @ The World on my Necklace October 27, 2014 at 1:21 am #

    I didn’t experience this myself but I travelled through Latin America with my boyfriend and my brother. I DID experience but on a much more intense level in Egypt. I didn’t feel unsafe but I quickly got over being followed around being catcalled at constantly

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      I was treated very differently when travelling with my ex boyfriend in Latin America than when I was by myself… And yeah, I felt a lot more threatened in Egypt too – although I was only in Cairo for a few days. They were intense though!

      • ruthy82 August 4, 2016 at 8:43 am #

        I went to Cairo when I was 7 and my 4 year old blonde sister was so harassed that my parents had to walk on either side of her because men tried to pull her away on more than one occasion and made genuine offers to my father to appropriate her :/

  12. Gustavo October 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    As i can see, you pass most of the time in the ghettos of latin america!

    • Francis Tapon November 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Gustavo is so far the only male to comment and he makes an inaccurate comment. I’ve been to all the countries of Central America and half the countries in South America. My mom is from Chile. And I can say with certainty that Flora didn’t spend most of her time in the ghettos of Latin America.

      What she describes is the everyday reality in Latin America. If you hang out in the high society, the most obvious catcalls disappear, but they’re replaced by more subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) advances. Fidelity is not a priority among Latin American men.

      Still, I disagree with Flora on one point. While I understand her Western belief that she should be able to dress any way she wants and while I also agree that many Latinas dress “provocatively,” the fact is that showing skin is a great way to attract unwanted attention. And that’s true anywhere in the world.

      Flora complains about not wanting to cover herself in 40 degree heat. I felt the same way when I was in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Chad. Yet I wore pants (instead of shorts) every day, even in the 50 degree heat of the Sahara.

      Why? Because that’s the local cultural norm.

      The Latinas who dress in mini-skirts do so knowing they will get attention. They usually dislike it, but they know what they’re in for. If I walked through the town in speedos, I’d turn heads too.

      I’m glad Flora follows those norms in India (and probably in the Middle East). I just think that if you want to diminish annoying advances, you have to dress conservatively. As a man, I do it even when I feel like wearing no shirt (that’s unacceptable in Muslim countries). I could do it, but I would get stares and comments.

      So women aren’t the only ones who have clothing expectations. Men have it too. Yes, we have far fewer and the penalties for not following the norms are not severe, but they are there. As a traveler, do yourself a favor and do like the conservative Romans do.

      • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

        Thanks for your response to the article, Francis – it’s great to get an insight into male opinion on this topic (and one that’s a bit more thought out than Gustavo’s..).

        I do agree with your point about dressing to local cultural norms: the difficulty is that I felt harassed on a daily basis throughout eighteen months in Latin America, and there were only a handful of cities I passed through that I actively chose not to dress conservatively because of the heat.

      • Kendra July 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

        But if you choose to not dress “conservatively” a gang of women is not going to harass you or attempt to rape you on the street. So your point is pretty moot in my opinion. There is no parallel between men and women. Men do not have to dress to avoid being sexually assaulted; women do. I do think it matters to try and fit into the culture and region you’re inhabiting but that does not mean that even in that culture no one questions the customs and practices and everything is just presumed to be an unregulated norm. The men are the problem, not the local women or the female travelers. What about the local women who are raped, killed and harassed even though they abide by their own cultural norms? Same shit in the US.

        • jim james July 28, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

          Taking rare ..yes i said rare , individual instances of this behaviour ; and then try and broadcast it as typical and common male behaviour ..well its not supported by evidence and statistics.

          However if i tie chunks of raw red meat to my body and jump into shark infested waters i know what I can expect.

          Please lets stop this denial of womens agency in their own decision making. Its laughable to claim that dressing scantily and then going into certain situations ..the poor woman had absolutely no idea what could occur ..

          i give women credit for being sharp smart individuals , rather than being ignorant unaware beings feminists denigrate them to be.

          • Molina September 16, 2015 at 1:28 am #

            Hi Jim, in reply to your other part (no reply link available there). My reference to rape was not an attempt to hijack the thread. Rather, to make the point that the discomfort I feel, and I believe this holds true for many women, in the presence of cat calling, lewd remarks, etc. is the underlying awareness all / most women carry that we are intrinsically vunerable. We can be assaulted much more easily than a man. And there exists an inclination for pretitory behavior in SOME men that women for the most part do not exhibit. So, the playing field as it were is not level, nor fair.

            Kendras point and mine referenced this innate gender difference. It’s not new news. And we are working out how to address this as we become more world aware.

            I can see that you feel men as a whole are being unjustly labeled, based on statistics. This thread is not about all men. It is targeting men who objective women, having “fun” at the woman’s expense. This being her sense of self worth, safety, self respect and dignity.

            My life experience supports the authors views. I am not against men, as I said. I simply choose to not tolerate certain behaviors some men perpetrate upon me, upon women. If this reads as an alarmist feminist agenda for you, that’s your business. I am expressing my view, based on my experience here and in 25+ other countries. I do not believe it is reasonable to be dismissive of these concerns, based upon “statistics”.

            It is the fear, the not knowing who/what/when/where or why that can eat away at our trust. We are choosing to look at these behaviors through a cultural lens to attempt to make some sense of something that we as women find unacceptable.
            I hope that clears things up a bit. Take care.

          • jim james September 16, 2015 at 2:15 am #

            Yes I can see the sincerity in your reply.

            I guess the question comes down to : is it a rational and probable fear? Can fears be mitigated by precautionary behaviour?

            Men take the piss out of men.
            Some men take the piss out of women.
            Do women do the same to women.. i hear from my female friends of severe nastiness amongst women surely equal in severity to leering and catcalls.
            And women can strike big time feat into men by accusation. Its just words too.

            Yeah I wish the world was a better place too.

        • Molina September 15, 2015 at 11:30 pm #

          Your point is spot on Kendra, as is this post. The elements of manipulative shaming perpetrated in some of the male comments here crystallize this difference to perfect effect. That those of us who prefer to simply be, rather than be quantified and catagorized are considered by some to not be “real” women is, in my experience, a sadly typical culturally supported cop out.

          Everything being addressed here boils down to respect. Traveling & cultural differences will always call for self awareness and compromise. But as the world becomes “smaller”, I hold that it is up to us as women to require respect regardless of the cultural “argument” . Starting with self respect, whatever that looks like for you. Being “nice” hasn’t gotten it for us for a very long time. Nice as in, submissive and enabling.

          I have traveled in many countries, in many levels of those cultures. Harrassment? My god yes. Frightening? Incredable so at times. Men do this, and reward each other for it. Women do not, (with the exception of some college co eds). In raising my son, I made sure he heard me, I told him my stories and feelings, explaining that the fear of rape and even death at the hands of an out of control man was very real for most/all women, no matter what the culture. Men have no idea the level of fear that we have to address.

          It took time and maturity for him to grasp this concept. He initially thought I was just being over emotional. How often are our sensibilities and concerns invalidated due to our more refined and tuned emotional intelligence in this way, and we have bought that ticket, doubting our inherent right as a human being to simply be able to live freely as we are.

          I love men. But I do not love some of the attitudes and behaviors they brandish that exist exclusivly within their male Mars domain. My best response has been to stop and stare back. Quiet, intense, no reaction, just putting the full light of awareness on the man/men. Most of the time, it works and they fizzle.
          And, that being said, I would still never hesitate to run like hell. Because this isn’t about sex, clothing, or having fun. This is about power, and there are plenty of men who are certain it is their god given right to use it however they see fit. And these same men do not want to share it with us. The Cuban argument of empowering us through cat calling is so backasswards it would be funny if it weren’t so insidiously undermining and false.

          So ladies of this post and the world, stand in your own power as women as best you can, and don’t ever let any man convince you whatever they are slinging is okay, just because they feel like it.
          Gentlemen, meet us with dignity and respect, that’s what this is all about, and then we can all have fun. ♡

          • jim james September 16, 2015 at 12:36 am #

            Its true that men and women face different experiences in their lives. If you have been violently assualted of course those effects will linger.

            Yet again though, I will call out the prevalance of actual rape in the USA . Its a fraction of 1% …a fraction. Additionally of those , the same perpetrator is often involved.

            The feminist victim propaganda continues to push some sort of rape epidemic where none exists. So the fear and subsequent funding powerbase is expanded.

            And this article talked about staring , leering and catcalls. NOT the same as rape despite attempts to hijack thread.

            One thing that will nevrr happen cause of acknowledge that men die and are injured many many times more than women…and male suicide and homelessness is multiples of women ..

            Aaaand the funding?

            About zero.

            Cause its just men right

          • jim james September 16, 2015 at 2:01 am #

            About treating women with respect and dignity.

            I truly do wish humans had evolved to the point that this sort of mutually supportive ideal could be realized.

            In the real world most men are well aware that treating women this way gets you friendzoned , lost respect, and quick exit from a relationship. During her prime years most women seek exciting ( code word for unstable dramatic and abusive ) badboys and ignore decent men .

            50 Shades of Grey
            Bodices ripper novels

            We watch what women do, not what they say.

      • karin September 6, 2015 at 4:25 am #

        Thanks God, finally someone that realizes, that there are dress codes for men too, and who respects them (Yes, walking around “half-naked” is unacceptable for men just as much as it is for woman, in muslim countries) I ‘ve spend years travelling around Latin America, and elsewhere including many muslim countries, and I never got harassed in a negative way Easy to guess why ………………

      • Nicole September 22, 2015 at 3:51 am #

        I have never worn a pair of shorts or a skirt a single day of living in Colombia, yet I feel like this article was an exact transcription of my first year here. There is nothing special I have to do to be stared down, followed, or hissed at. One guy actually put his arm around me and stroked my hair as I crossed the street. It is a daily occurrence. The only time I am flattered by an unsolicited “compliment” is when it’s from my husband. I have seen women going to pick their children up from daycare being harassed. It is not exclusive to miniskirts and short shorts, and even if it was, it would still be inexcusable as wearing shorts in Cali is hardly a deviation from the cultural norm.

      • Alana October 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

        So In retrospect this a eloquent “cover up baby”. Gosh guy very worldly knowledge. There is a saying in Latin America that goes: you can dress a monkey in gold linen and it will stay a monkey. Lolz :p aunque vista de oro mono she queda.

  13. Anna November 1, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    I’ve never been to South America, but the machismo attitude travels to Italy. I have never felt so uncomfortable walking around in summer clothes as I have in Italy. Last year, I spent a week in Rome and had at least two uncomfortable encounters each day.

    Two major ones stick out in my mind: one, I was sitting outside my hotel with my friend having a drink from the café when a man walked past and stared, making comments and beckoning me (even though we ignored him, he stayed for a good few minutes, making more comments and hand gestures until one of the hotel staff ushered him away).

    The second time was the only time I actually felt properly threatened (and I mean scared what might happen, I don’t mean any threats were made). I had just left a church wearing a dress that covered my knees and a cardigan – so, clothes appropriate for a Vatican-controlled Catholic church – when I was approached, spoken to first in Italian then English and the man followed me down the road, approximately two paces away from me, continually talking to me and saying various inappropriate things. I had to go in to a supermarket to escape, which almost didn’t work.

    Needless to say, it kind of clouded my love for the city, and the rest of the time I was very aware of everything going on around me. It was the first time I couldn’t wait to leave a country and go somewhere else where I felt I could properly relax and enjoy myself despite the clothes I was wearing – I was heading on to France where I have never experienced any of this kind of behaviour.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      I’m sorry you had such an uncomfortable experience in Rome, Anna. Florence is one of my favourite cities in the world so I really hope you make it back to Italy eventually and get a better impression!

      • Joe Lop June 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

        So I see you don;t mind European guys catcalling but non Europeans are a no non LOL Racist

  14. Ana November 5, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Like you Flora, I’m extremely sensitive to this stuff. I spent 3 years in South America and your post brought back all the familiar emotions – the fear and rage and impotence and embarrassment and the general WTF?! For the past year, I’ve been living in Thailand and have received no catcalls that I can remember. It’s fascinating to see (and feel) the difference between the sexually objectifying stare and the curious stare (which I do receive often in Southeast Asia from both men and women and children).

    Have you seen the video circling on the web about the young woman who received 100 catcalls in 10 hours of walking in New York City? The debate in the aftermath is quite revealing, very frustrating, and a bit disheartening. A common reaction is, “That’s not harassment. Many of the men were complimenting her.” Slate magazine also had a short article on how white men don’t catcall but harass women in other ways. In whatever form it takes, sexual harassment is all about establishing dominance. And that dynamic is what riles me.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      You’re so right, Ana – I definitely felt like Thailand was one of the least threatening and harassing countries, even though I was stared at on a regular basis, because it was easy to see it was simple curiosity.

      And yep, I’ve seen the catcall in New York video (I was actually going to add it into the article somewhere but haven’t got round to it!) – isn’t it awful?

    • IkeKnight September 12, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Did you see the accompanying video of a man walking through NYC? The lewd comments diminished (though not disappear) but the leering was very prevalent.

  15. Alyssa November 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    This is a great post, Flora, very insightful. My experience isn’t in Latin America, but in the Caribbean where the situation is less a kissing sound and more of a “Psssstttt…” which I hated. When I lived in Martinique it got to the point where I hated walking around outside IN THE DAYTIME without Tom. Even when we were together I could feel the eyes on me and I would occasionally hide behind him in markets and stuff.

    I wish I had the balls to ask them why they did it! I’ll bet that they didn’t know – it was just a cultural thing.

    I actually wrote a blog post about it way back when – I did some research and it turns out that in places like those, the ‘street’ is considered the man’s domain. The woman’s place is in the home and a woman outside is invading men’s territory so catcalling is a way to acknowledge her being in an inappropriate place.

    At least that’s what the anthropologist I read said!

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      So it’s equally difficult in Martinique, then? I think I was only able to react when I felt I had the confidence backing me (ie the amount of time I’d spent there, the experience in speaking the language, and having another girl with me who was equally pissed off!).

      I had no idea there were hidden rules about who had control of ‘the street’ though!

    • Kendra July 28, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

      I would take that assessment with a grain assault. A home isn’t really a woman’s domain. That’s where she is permitted to be by men so even the home is a man’s domain.

  16. Maisie November 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    I’m currently traveling Latin America and have been thinking about the exact same things lately! It’s been SO tiresome and irritating. Just a 5-min walk to my dive shop each morning in Honduras, I would receive at least 5-10 comments and catcalls.. it’s been so irritating. And then I’d log into Facebook and see friends from back home posting and sharing articles about catcalling and everyday sexism in the Western world (there seem to have been a lot lately), and they would just make me laugh out loud at the thought how anything like this has any relevance to the places I’ve been in Latin America. It’s so deeply ingrained in culture, the thought of even questioning just seems completely absurd. Totally sad, but totally true.

    In Guatemala I was constantly asked by any local guys I met, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’, ‘Where is your husband?’ In Belize, even at the international airport, a smart, well dressed, airport official asked me this immediately as if it was absurd to be there alone. It makes me absolutely furious, as if having a boyfriend or husband are the only things worth knowing about me, and more than once I’ve had to bite my tongue from just shouting at these guys!

    I have travelled a lot too, and have to say that Latin America, although spectacular, is the first place I’ve felt instances of not being safe due to being a solo female traveller.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      Interesting that you’ve been seeing the spate of sexual harassment sharing on social media while you’ve been in Latin America, Maisie – I found it stressful enough when I was there without comparing it to the Western world’s interpretation of it! Sorry you’ve been feeling unsafe due to the catcalling though. I hope you haven’t faced any difficult situations…

  17. Caitlin November 8, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    I’m in Cuenca, Ecuador, just now and I’m dealing with the exact same issues. Your post sums up my feelings perfectly! I’ve grown to love (or at least accept) all of the other cultural differences, but the catcalling just makes my skin crawl. On my second week here a man followed me to a bus stop and proceeded to grab my ass as I waited, and then stood very close behind me, staring, until I ran and pretended to board a bus. Since then it’s felt a lot more threatening and a lot less complementary. But it’s so deeply engrained in the culture I think it’s here to stay for a long time, the boys here just don’t see how their behaviour could be problematic.

    And for the record, the type of clothes you’re wearing makes no difference in my experience – I seem to get more attention in an old jumper than with my shoulders/legs out.

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Exactly! That’s the problem – I love (or have got used to) pretty much everything else about South America, but catcalling is never going to be something I can be ok with. And I totally agree with the clothes situation: although I probably had more catcalling when my legs or chest were on show, it still happened regardless of the clothes, ultimately..

  18. Angela November 22, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I live in Cambodia and struggle with similar issues. Cambodians have very narrow views of what a “good” and “bad” woman is. In my case the sexism is combined with racism in that the color of my skin (white) automatically puts me in the “bad woman” category. I try to dress more modestly (covering shoulders and knees) in attempt to dampen the judgments, but not sure how effective it actually is. It certainly doesn’t stoop the objectifying stares and cat calls. I struggle with how to respond to the harassment. Mostly I ignore it. But after 1+ years I’m afraid there might be a tipping point after a particularly bad day! The passive aggressive nature of this culture really disrespects aggressive behavior, especially by women. And the capacity for violence by Khmer men is not something to be dismissed as “oh it won’t happen to me.” Anyway this is turning in to a rant….point in commenting was just to say thanks for the post. I’ve been struggling to put words to what I’ve been feeling and reading about your experience on the other side of the world helps. So thanks!

    • Flora December 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks for your perspective on the sexual harassment in Cambodia, Angela – I haven’t visited yet, so didn’t have any idea what it was like there. Feel free to rant though – sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest!

  19. Mee November 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Living in Danbury, CT, where there currently are a great deal of South American men – the STARING is what bothers me the most. They are always in the Laundromat when I go to do laundry, and they stand there, and STARE. I can feel their eyes on me, and I look up, and yup, they are staring. and unashamedly, continue to stare. It makes me really uncomfortable. White men, for the most part, do not do this, I’ve noticed. they also sit around on the sidewalks and just loiter for hours. You can’t walk by without running the gauntlet.

    I hate what this country has turned into. I never felt uncomfortable walking down the street 20 years ago; only after the recent mass migration of South and Latin Americans into this region, that the tone of my hometown and neighborhood has changed. A lot of times, I feel like I’m living in South American country. I miss old America.

  20. Essie November 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    I am writing a paper about this, as a high school student. This post provided so much insight into the standard culture of Latin America, machismo, disparity in relationships etc. Thank you so much! Lovely writing!

    • Flora November 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

      Thanks for reading Essie – glad you enjoyed it!

  21. Sarah November 27, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    This is a very interesting read. One of my first solo trips was to Venezuela/Colombia/Cuba. I chose these destinations because I had lots of friends living there that I had met in Europe and the States. They all told me the same thing after a few months of living in the west: “I feel ugly here. Men on the streets don’t notice me.” After going to Latin America and witnessing the “noticing” for myself, I understood what they were talking about. Because they had put it that way, I didn’t really mind the catcalls either. But I was single and 20 years old, I wonder how I will feel now as a married woman, 10 years older and wiser… I guess I will find out in a month when I move to Ecuador.

    • Flora November 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

      I guess that’s one of the cultural differences, Sarah – although I’d reiterate that the vast majority of the Latina women I befriended and spoke to about this issue didn’t like being catcalled. Interesting that you “didn’t mind” being catcalled because your friends had suggested it was solely meant a compliment though..

      • Lambda Pool December 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

        you can’t speak for all of those girls, I know a lot who hates being stared at streets by unknown people.

  22. Lambda Pool December 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Incredible post, well done but the problem is, well we can’t solve it, probably never.
    I was born in Brazil, the behavior there is exactly the same as you described, now I live on Chile, its the same crap, including a plus, they don’t respect if you are with your wife or girlfriend, they don’t care.
    If you go for those countries with your wife, please take my advice, first of all go to GYM, get more pounds and when you are like Vin Diesel you are ready for going for such places because the people are so sexist that they won’t respect a woman alone, they only will avoid their stupid behavior when she are just in company of a BIG HUGE FREAKING MUSCLE MAN with a bad face and not smile at all.

    Be advice, there are better places to go, such behavior won’t change.

  23. Heather Newson December 15, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    I have been living in Nicaragua for 2 and a half months now and today I stopped being able to handle it.

    The part that really bothers me is that it happens after you’ve walked past – I don’t mind it to my face, it means I have the opportunity to give them a look that says “no chance mate” or whatever else I might want to say. It’s the power-play element of saying something to my back that makes me feel devalued, discriminated and powerless, both at home in the UK and here.

    Saying something to a man’s back is universally disrespectful. How many times in movies to men say “If you’ve got something to say, say it to my face” why doesn’t that apply to women? and is this a good way to present an argument to the men about how we feel? – appeal to their machismo side haha

    Its not the words they use that bothers me it’s the power that they have over me by talking to my back.

    I’m lucky that in the UK I get it maybe once a month because I am not conventionally beautiful and the clothes I like to wear aren’t especially “sexy”. Here I try to dress just like the more conservatively dressed of my Nicaraguan peers (20-something year-olds) – jeans, and a top, but even in an outfit that Nicaraguans should be able to relate to, even a top with long sleeves I can’t escape being noticed and commented on. I’m struggling to adjust, I’m starting to hate myself for being different. I wish I looked like a nicaraguan so I could stop feeling separate from the culture, machisimo or not. I want the right to be invisible, I want to choose when people notice me like I do at home.

    I think these feelings of outsideness have stemmed from the catcalls, every other wonderful thing and friend that has happened to me here has made me feel fantastically welcome – like you this is the one thing I’m struggling to make sense of culturally.

    • Flora January 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

      I seriously know the feeling, Heather – hearing comments after I’ve passed by is somehow even more insulting, demoralising & degrading… But don’t hate yourself for being different, it’s the same for all the other foreigners (even if they pretend it’s not a problem!). Plus it’s literally the only issue I have with life in Latin America, and clearly it’s the same for you 🙂

  24. Franca January 3, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Very interesting post and observations Flora. I haven’t been in South America yet but I got similar situations sometime too in some Asian country, like Japan for instance.

    • Flora January 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      Very interesting, Franca – I wouldn’t have expected the machismo attitude to be overtly present in Japanese culture, but as I haven’t visited the country since I was eight years old I doubt I would have experienced it then!

  25. ralph January 23, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    I enjoyed the above discussions on this topic.

    Something that is not addressed in any above post and that I think is relevant: We have to recognize that sexual attraction is not logical, and power dynamics are always involved.

    I completely understand the desire of female travellers not to be made to feel uncomfortable and not be objectified when traveling, but one must realize that in much the same way that white, liberally dressed women are objectified, those same travelers (and their male counterparts, myself included) are often themselves objectifiers of the ‘quaintness’ of a village or people, and that this carries much it’s own irrationality and many hidden injustices.

    Something that was brought up above but that I think is related is the consenting female role in machismo cluture: women who respond positively to machismo culture also perpetuate the culture. That is, machismo is not practiced in a vacuum, and the sex that results between advances of a confident man reinforces the actions of all men.

    An attractive man’s ‘confidence’ vs. an unattractive man’s ‘aggression’ is a matter of perception, not something absolute.

    P.S. the pictured with the description ‘Some boys learn the staring techniques from an early age.’ doesn’t seem exactly fair to me. while I don’t know the circumstances of the picture, it just looks like they’re looking at you because you’re looking at (and pointing a camera at) them. The act of subverting one’s gaze upon knowing that someone is looking at you is not universal.

    • Flora February 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      This is a good point, Ralph – power dynamics are undoubtedly a factor in these types of situations, and there’s a long history of women consenting to male dominance which I haven’t overtly addressed in the article.

      Also you’re right about the young boys; I used that image mainly to illustrate my point so it was more tongue-in-cheek than a proving of their behaviour!

      • Joe Lop June 13, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

        You know that those boys are indigenous people right? Most Native are isolated from other racial groups (since they are most hated) so when a non native shows up with a camera looking like a pedophile taking photos of them of course they are gonna look back who wouldn’t?

    • Shannon May 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      I understand what You’re trying to say, but I feel the examples you use are very mild compared to the behavior of the men in the article. If you’re able to catch yourself after 3-5 seconds and then say “oops I probably look creepy now for staring” then you have some self- awareness that recognizes your behavior can make other people feel uncomfortable and adjust accordingly. It sounds like the guys in the article are staring for MINUTES not seconds and if they are aware that it makes the women uncomfortable, they certainly don’t care.

      • Shannon May 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

        Oops, sorry, this comment was meant for Steve below

  26. Steve Biggs February 4, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Not many male comments so far so here goes 🙂

    While I don’t agree with the overtly machismo examples shown above, I thought I’d try to voice the male thought process regards these matters.

    Whether it be walking along Oxford Street, people watching in an Ibiza beach bar or standing up in a pub, as soon as an attractive woman appears us men stop what we’re doing, cease talking to each other and “check out” the woman in question. We don’t mean to stare, but what we think is a half second glance is probably closer to 5+ seconds :s

    What can I say – we’re programmed to be sexually attracted to good looking women and are drawn to what we “see”, rather than a woman who may be drawn to what she “smells” or “hears” etc. In the back of our brain we might also think we “have a chance” too :s

    So in London this staring may be mildly annoying to the lady in question (although some may like it) but pales into insignifiance to the “cat calling” and “teeth clicking” in South America of course. There’s also the male bravado that kicks in too where each male is trying to be more “alpha” than the other by stamping his claim on the said lady – by cat calling etc. or is simply trying to “big himself up” to his mates. Not much different to a rutting stag trying to keep his deer to himself when another male comes along I guess.

    There was a great video in New York recently that shows an attractive (although conservatively dressed) woman walking arounf the streets all day and she too got all the “hey baby” comments so it happens everywhere.

    Of course things are always polarised with upsetting “cat calling” at one end of the spectrum and gentlemanly compliments at the other end … with 3 second stares and builders’ “alright darling” comments somewhere in between the two.

    A female friend in the mid 30s did comment recently that she doesn’t get any comments anymore and kind of misses the innocent wolf whistles as to her she feels it means she’s not attractive anymore.

    • Flora February 13, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

      Thanks for giving us your opinions, Steve – I love the rutting stag example!

  27. Amanda February 10, 2015 at 2:16 am #

    I just came across this article while researching for my senior term paper and I’ve gotta say, it resonates really deeply with me. My family is from Argentina and when I was 12 I went with my grandparents for the bicentennial of their hometown of Rivera.

    I was with my twin cousins (15 at the time) at the town hall sitting in the back with all of the teenagers. I had a cup of Coca Cola in front of me and my cousin’s boyfriend who I believe was 17 or 18 at the time and, to me, much older and intimidating, just snatched my cup and drank it. I was 12, but I was sassy and pissed and just stared back at him. He laughed and then said something to my cousin, who then turned to me and said, in broken English, “He…want to..uh..fuck you?” As a 22 year old, this would not have phased me had it happened now, but as a 12 year old in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, having someone you find incredibly intimidating to begin with tell you they want to perform a sexual act with you is terrifying. I sprinted into the other room and my cousins were completely baffled as to what just happened; they had no idea what message they just relayed to me. I later had my grandparents explain it and of course they apologized, but for some reason it’s taken quite a long time for me to stop being so scared of older men. I tried telling myself that stuff like this probably happened to other girls all the time.

    The guy never touched me or made any remark aside from that, but as a young girl that small experience shook me to the core.

    While I’ll probably never truly justify it because I still have yet to feel the same level of fear as I did then, I have come to terms with the incident and have accepted that’s just how it is there. Unfortunate, but true. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. This was a really thoughtful and well-written article that I’ll likely reference back to for some time.

    • Angela February 10, 2015 at 6:00 am #

      Holy cow Amanda. No, that’s not ok. You were 12! That was so wrong and not normal behavior. That was a creepy asshole. Just because it may have happened to other women doesn’t keen it’s acceptable behavior. You were totally justified in being feared out!

      • Flora February 13, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

        I completely agree, Angela – and Amanda, you certainly don’t have to justify that guy’s behaviour. I hope it hasn’t caused too much long-lasting damage, and thanks so much for being courageous enough to share your story here. I think it’s extremely valuable to have a safe space to discuss behaviours like this and support each other.

    • Matt August 9, 2016 at 7:38 am #

      Amanda, I believe you. Thank you for sharing your story: you’re strong for sharing it here. The way you felt when it happened was completely normal: anyone who experienced what you did would feel the same way you did.

      What happened was not your fault: it was your cousin’s.

      • Byln August 30, 2016 at 4:12 am #

        This my friends is why all of you male or female young or old must become a ninja.

  28. Ana February 10, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Flora, congrats on the great discussion your post has generated. I replied once already and was inspired to post again when I found this amazing project to push back against street harassment in Mexico City.

    An excerpt:
    “Street harassment, also known as “acoso en las calles,” is an enormous problem in Mexico City and the country as a whole, where rates of sexual violence against women are some of the highest in the world. In Mexico, as elsewhere, says Laura Martinez, director of the Association for the Integral Development of Raped Persons, female bodies are seen as objects, as “something a man can have access to, even if the woman doesn’t want”; a United Nations report in 2010 ranked Mexico number one globally in sexual violence against women, estimating that 44% of females have suffered some sort of sexual violence, from groping to rape. The situation is so bad that Mexico City offers female-only cars on the city’s subways and, in 2008, introduced female-only buses, painted the color pink.”

    Personally, it is this link between street harassment and sexual violence that makes me intolerant of catcalling period. And it’s worth noting that this dynamic operates not just in Mexico City or Latin America, but pretty much everywhere, even if, as the artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh says, “everyone gets harassed differently.”

    So, thank you, Flora, for writing this piece and creating a space where we can talk about this important issue.

    • Flora February 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      Thank you so much for contributing to the discussion with this, Ana – something I really value about viral articles and activities around the world is that we all have the ability to be inspired by these projects and hopefully use them to further our own initiatives.

    • jim james May 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      I dont believe one article is in any way substantial proof that there is a link.

      Again …and again its an allegation of perpetration by a self interested group. To make such an assertion without solid independent peer reviewed evidence , does not make it a fact.

      Its like the supposed Campus Rape Crisis. No evidence supports any sort of crisis was pushed and pushed all the way to top political positions based upon wanting it to be so. Then it all falls apart eg. Rolling Stone article.

      Simplistic assertions to actual problems such as violence do no justice to actually solving the problem . In fact they may in fact drain away resources that are needed in certain areas.

  29. Katrina February 13, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    I got to spend a few weeks in Nicaragua recently, and The same thing happened to me wherever I went. Alone, with a group of girls, or with a group of my guy friends, or even mass amounts of children I would walk to the soccer fields with: noises were called at me everywhere. It was unavoidable. How did it make me feel? At first, not too bad. A little embarrassed. Travelling with a Social Justice Delegation, I was surrounded by many people who were uncomfortable with the attention that guys gave me. In Canada, I have been told that I am beautiful many times, and I would get looks and smiles from groups of guys in malls and at fairs and such, but man, the noises were just the next level. To add to that, I was warned by the coordinators too that because of the body type that I have, these machismo men are going to go crazy. In Canada, seeing a girl with big boobs, a small waist, a big butt, and thick thighs is foreign and not really noticed. I knew that the Brazilians loved it (My cousin has had a lot of boyfriends, haha), and wasn’t surprised when I heard that the Nicas love it too. The givers of the noise were quite surprising to me too. While staying in the amazing village of Jinocuao, I had the privilege of living with a local family. My father was 30, my mother 29, my brother 9, and my sister 3. All of them ended up being great protectors, because men are very persistent in Nicaragua. I had my 9 year old brothers’ friends hitting on me, guys my dad’s age hitting on me, and, the worst one, a MARRIED 22 year old who tried to convince me he was single, 17, and in university. Mentiroso. Anyways, I am definitely a girl who is guilty of loving attention. So, a few times I made the mistake of following the advances of men who deemed interested it me. I am a young girl who has nothing to lose, right? Why not have a little foreign flirtation?
    Worst idea I ever had. How naive of me. The thing is, even after I realize what I’ve done and I tell them off in my poor Spanish and with the help of my Nicaraguan father, the calls and gestures do not stop. And eventually, I guess it wears off and you don’t notice it as much. It could be worse, the could be calling you ugly on the side of the street. I felt kind of ugly when I came back to Canada. Not hearing every single person tell you how beautiful you are gets kind of depressing. As long as YOU remember how beautiful you are, and you know that, who cares what those men call at us on the streets? There are more things to be concerned about I think, like getting lost. The only thing that looks touristy about me in Nicaragua is the group I was with and the map I always needed, I have no sense of direction.
    As much as the attention was part of the trip, I don’t think that it could have ruined it ever. What people should be more worried about is running into poisonous bushes while hiking and slipping on rocks in rivers, as well as fevers and forgetting to shave your armpits everyday: things like such can spoil a day. Travelling within Central and South America hold many beautiful experiences, never let a silly little Latino man ruin that.
    (Sorry I yammer on so much. It’s a problem.)

    • Katrina February 13, 2015 at 5:11 am #

      PS: I loved hearing your experience on the matter. It affects everyone differently and I want to be aware of that. I hope to be able to spend as much time in Central and South America as you have one day, Travel on!

      • Flora February 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

        You’re definitely not yammering, Katrina – I really appreciate you sharing your story here! It’s a complicated situation, I agree.. but it does affect women differently. Great to hear that you dealt positively with that behaviour though.

  30. Baco February 15, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Great post, Flora. Having grown up in Lima, I can identify exactly the experience you went through. I live in the US now, and I could notice the difference just arriving: girls running in tiny clothes and nobody saying a word. I myself have been intrigued by what drives this behavior (because I want to eradicate it, I don’t want my daughter to grown in that environment). I know on one side an attractive woman showing some skin will always get attention, but that is not the point. The point is how that attention is delivered. And I think that is related to the asymmetry of power across genders in Latin American, and the widespread perception that there are only two types of women (and the unfortunate association of westerners with, well, the non-saint category). What do you think?
    BTW, would you recommend any readings on the topic? I myself have been trying to educate more on this. Thanks!

  31. Inpirahogar February 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    Thank you for such an interesting article. I can see similarities to my country …

  32. Isaac March 26, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    I have to be honest though. Here in Cape Town, South Africa, we wouldn’t even give you a 5 second glance, since your pretty average. Nice to write this article to the whole world, just to make yourself feel better by letting everyone know how attractive men in public find you, and then disguising it with disgust. We’ve got far more attractive women here and we don’t need to leer at them. The standards in Latin America must be pretty bad, since even our average looking women are more attractive than you.

    • Flora April 10, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

      Cheers for such a heartfelt comment Isaac – always nice to get some insulting troll comments from time to time!

    • Emily April 16, 2015 at 9:26 am #

      Well done Isaac, you’ve managed to make Flora’s article all the more poignant by treating the female body as an object that exists to please you. Nice!

      • Tarina May 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

        Wait, I think Isaac has a point. Incredible as it may seem to us – who are in general can be fairly easily over-powered physically by a man of any age – a lot of men (like him, obviously) think we should be FLATTERED by the attention that they apparently cannot help giving us. He actually thinks Flora might be bragging by talking about the attention she received. Obviously he doesn’t have the slightest idea what it is like to be a woman (isn’t able to put himself in our shoes at all), because this kind of attention – as testified to by so many in these comments – isn’t hard to come by so it’s nothing to brag about. In the US (California) I see a big social/class distinction: when I used to do, say a 10 mile run thru a beach community here I would run thru the expensive neighborhoods and no matter how many people were out and about I was blissfully unnoticed. But running through the “dive” part of town was different – men there seemed to have, in my opinion, “no manners”. I was wearing the same thing & doing the same thing – it wasn’t me who changed. And yes, I picked a different route after that. But wouldn’t it be nice if there were a signal which men would respond to which indicated whether attention were welcomed by the woman or not? (I’m thinking: ignore them with headphones and carry pepper spray tucked into your belt.) The problem we have is that a lot of men simply think that every attractive (or interesting or different looking) woman should want to know how he is personally responding to her.
        Another issue in trying to solve the problem of unwanted attention is that many men get more aggressive when they are ignored.
        Maybe it’s tough for men because they are so flattered by female attention that they assume we should feel flattered by theirs. I don’t think they understand how it feels when the (words of CK Louis, comedian) big ugly grizzly bear is making eyes at you. Some of them probably don’t know that to us they are old, scary and ugly – like the 12 year old girl who posted about being propositioned and was so terrified. I have always assumed this happened to all of us at least once (a teacher, friend’s father, etc.) but hopefully not.
        That said, some women here are admitting they DO like the attention (at least at times) and DO feel flattered. That’s because they have taken it as some kind of validation. And this is what makes the topic so complicated: there are always times for every human being when they want to be noticed by someone. But admitting that it can make us feel beautiful when a man we love sees us that way, or that catching the attention of someone we are interested in feels GOOD is very different than wanting to be propositioned constantly.
        Probably Isaac doesn’t also realize that every halfway attractive woman is aware from the time she hits puberty that sex and attention are of constant availability. This is something that makes a lot of men jealous, since so many of them are driven by their gonads (“gee, wouldn’t it be cool to be a chick?”). I think it’s also at least one of the elements that fuels his brand of misogyny.
        Interestingly, Isaac is also confirming the point that every culture has a standard for beauty (it’s so ignorant to think otherwise, and yet he believes his standard is absolute) and clearly his personal standard doesn’t happen to be the same as that of Latin men. The question for him is only: for those women in his country who he thinks are so beautiful (who Latinos would probably find too skinny and pale) does he think cat calling is appropriate behavior?
        We can all guess of course, given the tone of his post that he is most likely to behave in a way which maintains his sense of dominance. Maybe he’s one of the guys who ignores or insults “beautiful” women in an attempt to woo them? Interesting fact: there are lots of beautiful women in Moscow and they make every effort. Yet it’s extremely rare to see or hear a man making comments about them publicly. Does anyone know why this would be true? I’ve seen absolutely gorgeous women walk through groups of men and they barely glance her way. Of course in more private settings there is a lot of chauvinism but for some reason it seems more macho there to appear not to be so affected.

        • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

          Not all Latinos like thick women . I am Latino, 5’7″ (1.70m) tall, thin in body type and I am not attracted to thick/fat/stocky women at all. Reason is because a thick woman would make me look smaller in body build and being slender, I am not able to lift her in my arms not to mention not to sound offensive, but fat/stocky people (women and men) sweat a lot and smell bad, and I am really sensitive to smells.

          I prefer a tall, thin woman with nice long legs or at the most a woman of athletic build.Even a woman taller than me I am attracted too.In short, I like women with the build of models in fashion magazines or Ms. Universe.

        • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

          It also depend on social class. In Mexico, usually lower class men prefer fat/stocky women, whilst us middle class guys and the upper class guys like more slender women (but healthy skinny, not anorexic) or at the most hourglass shape. Reason is because fatness is often associated in here with the lower classes.

          I do not know what type of Latinos you associated with social class -wise, but in my social circle, that is how we tend to like our women. If we really like fat/stocky women, how come in our advertisements we always put tall, slender women or with an hour glass physique? I think this is more of a social class tastes more than generalizing an entire culture.


  33. pasta8888 March 28, 2015 at 6:22 am #

    This quote: “If you go to Mexico, the man is always supposed to pick you up, pay for you and your girlfriends, open the door, throw you a party, ask you to be his girlfriend – basically behave like a gentleman. You can see Mexican girls experiencing culture shock when they go out with a European guy.”

    That may be true, but being a white guy living in America, I’ve noticed that Latinas tend to be more forward when it comes to flirting while most other women still seem to expect the guy to approach them first. I’ve also dated Mexican girls and most of them had more dominant personalities and made it pretty clear they didn’t want to be some helpless little girl that needed to be taken care of (strong independent woman kind of attitude). I kind of admire that but I always wondered, is that something that comes from Latino culture or is it something having to do with being Americanized?
    And I know not everyone of a certain ethnicity acts the same, it’s just a trend I noticed

    • Joe Lop June 13, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Mexican American women are no different then any other American women also you are white and most non-white women dream of getting a white man hints why they seem more “dominate” but they are most likely not that way with non-white men.

      • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

        Your comment is ignorant. Some “white” guys suffer from a serious inferiority complex. I am a good looking Latino, and all the Latina girls I have dated prefer more a Latino guy like me than a gringo. These girls find gringos uninteresting, cold, ugly, dress like slobs, lack manners, uncultured, etc.

        Also same reaction from foreign girls I have dated and told me the same about North American and Nordic/Scandinavian men.

        I know in USA has a different way of thinking (used to live there for 14 years), but does not apply AT ALL in other countries. White Americans often has this pathetic mentality.


      • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

        PS: If you want to know how I am physically, I am 5’7″ tall (1.70m), dark brown wavy hair, big almond shaped brown eyes, olive skin colour, chiseled face, slender in build, and dress stylish.So I never had issues with dating women.

        I have here in Mexico an American friend with typical Anglo features (blond, blue eyes, white pink skin, and stocky/fat in build), and when we go out, most Mexican women find me much more physically attractive than my American friend despite we are same age.Or at the most I got the attractive Mexican girls whilst he got the Mexican girls we Mexican guys find ugly (short, stocky, dark reddish brown skin with dominant Amerindian/Aztec/Maya facial features).

        So, my friend, this is relative and not absolute.

  34. ojos de lechuza April 9, 2015 at 3:46 am #

    Te gustaría que los latinos fuesen como los anglos: secos y huraños, sin dirigirse la palabra en público (por temor a invadir el “personal space”), y siempre con ese carácter quisquilloso en el que encuentran, como sea, la manera de sentirse ofendidos. Porque los anglos tienen un gran talento para sentirse “ofendidos” e “indignados”

    Sería mejor que te dieras cuenta de los prejuicios anglosajones de los que ni siquiera tienes conciencia.

    • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

      Concuerdo contigo. A mi para nada me gusta la mentalidad y cultura de los anglosajones o nórdicos excepto en los negocios, donde ahí si reconozco que son mucho mas eficientes y honestos que los latinoamericanos y sudeuropeos.

      Pero en cuanto a relaciones románticas, nosotros los latinoamericanos y los europeos del sur somos mucho mas eficientes que los anglosajones/nórdicos y los asiáticos.

      Incluso la mayoría del tiempo no encuentro el fenotipo anglosajón atractivo en mujeres. Son mas mi tipo las latinoamericanas (solamente las que no tienen muy marcado rasgos amerindios o africanos), árabes, turcas, rusas, italianas, griegas, coreanas y japonesas.


  35. Maria April 25, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    It is not about women changing the way we dress, it is about men changing the way they think.

    It is really sad that there are only a few men commenting, and the ones commenting are rude or trying to place the blame on women. There is something really wrong with this machismo culture, and we need to dig deeper to understand what the hell went wrong. Men from these cultures simply do not care that women are being repeatedly disrespected, and even worse, they believe that women deserve it.

    I see that men don’t want to take responsebility for their actions and making silly excuses for their unacceptable behaviour. They are not owning up to the damage they are making in the society, and they are getting away with it way too easily.

    Such men feel threatened by strong women who speaks up when being mistreated, and will try to hold women down with abuse and manipulation to “keep women in their place” as they say. They somehow think that they will “loose control” if they give women more power, but that is such a misconception. “Machismo” men need to be raised in a different way, and learn that women are valuable and not objects that men are entitled to control. They need to develop that empathy for women and see that women’s freedom, wishes, needs and feelings are valid and important.
    Men in machismo cultures are raised to believe that showing emotions is a weakness and being a man is about being dominant and in control, so they learn to play that role to fit into society.

    The world is in such an imbalanced state because of dominant, power hungry men and misognystic thought patterns raging around in most cultures. I refuse to sit back and accept it anymore. We have to make a change, and the men sure as hell won’t make the effort so it is really up to us women. What can we do as individuals? Speak up when you are being treated unfair by a man, whether it is your partner, your boss or a random man on the street. Let him know that it’s not ok to treat you like this, and say it with grace so he’ll listen. Don’t be afraid to air your opinions. There will be people who will try to silence you sometimes, but remember that these people live in fear and they are not ready to release the indoctrinated thought patterns just yet. Perhaps you think that you speaking up won’t change anything, but it will. It will change you and it will change society. We all infuence each other in the collective conscienceness.

    If all women came together instead of competing with each other, we could change the world. Let us make a decision today, that we won’t let any man hold us down anymore.

    PS: to all you dominant, machismo woman haters, I really don’t care what you have to say about my post and I wish you a great day 🙂

    • Biggsy April 25, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      I hope It didn’t appear that I was being rude and blaming women :s I certainly hope not. Men are programmed to “look” and the examples above certainly show where the line is crossed. Things are changing, albeit slowly … none moreso than in Sweden which I found to be incredibly gender-egalitarian. Ultimately men will never be able to understand what it’s like to be a woman, and women will never understand what it’s like to be a man. But regardless of this we should all just “get along” and people should never be made to feel uncomfortable.

      • Mara May 8, 2015 at 2:07 am #

        Biggsy, men are programmed… We are actually programmed to kill each other and to kill weaker children, and the offspring of other species that may encroach upon our space))
        I also mentioned below that in the wild females simply attack males who try to make passes at them if they themselves are not ready or do not welcome this particular male)) Sometimes I think, this is one good thing we should learn from other animals.

        Shouldn’t we humans be different and put self-control and consideration ahead of instincts? 😉
        As a Northern European though, I find the presumption that men will never understand what it’s like to be a woman and vice versa a bit… arguable. We are all humans after all, all the dividing lines are what we have invented ourselves, serving the whims of an epoch, culture, creed.

        • jim james May 8, 2015 at 2:45 am #

          No we are not programmed to kill in the manner you described. Lol there would be no tribes due to intertribal genocide.

          You are describing self defense of person , family and property. Attempted killing is high risk, poor utilization of energy and uncommon tactic.

          Threatening behaviour to interlopers is programmed.

          • Mara May 8, 2015 at 3:24 am #

            So you’re having trouble with history as well?((( (re intertribal genocide that’s almost uninterrupted) Maybe you should travel more than.

          • Mara May 8, 2015 at 3:28 am #

            In an aside, I am most amused by that comment below about sluts… If only men KNEW what sluts those modest, veiled women with a ‘good reputation’ are)))
            Having lived in many patriarchal, traditional societies, I have never felt so much pity for men as I did there, where they live a decade less than women, being seen totally as a money bag to milk, being manipulated by their women, downtrodden, constantly heckled into providing more, achieving more, being competitive.
            This is something feminists do not understand. The ‘man-dominated’ societies they condemn are in reality women-dominated where men are patted on the head, told they are masters and bosses and… used to the full, before being discarded or sent to an early grave when he cannot give her anything any more and she has found a richer one.
            —Nowhere in the West can you dream of meeting a culture where women have men toiling to provide them while they have a zillion of partners for fun (and this is NORMAL) and where women are openly taught since childhood how to manipulate and to use those poor silly men, while men are not scared of a nuclear war half as much as they are of disobeying their wives.

          • jim james May 8, 2015 at 4:07 am #

            Yeah thats a devastating refutation threre ..not.

            Im talking about within the tribal group. Warfare betweens tribes are more deadly.. and yet it is not hardwired as much as taught and a societal value.

            Even the White Feather women used shame to force men into combat in WW1. These eager killers have to be coerced into armies by draft. Yep that sounds real programmed.

          • jim james May 8, 2015 at 4:18 am #

            Maras 3:28 I actually agree with her assessment of the illusion men have in those societies.

            However there is denial on the replacement role of government as husband provider in the West. Additionally women in the West have much higher partner counts riding the carousel than women in those societies.

            Without the backup of big daddy .gov there is simply not the means or resources ( on a wider general societal level ) to accomplish that ” feat”

  36. Jake April 30, 2015 at 7:14 am #

    You dress like a slut and walk all over foreign countries, wearing the uniform of a prostitute, and you get mad when you get catcalled? Gimme a break, you dumbass broad. What an utterly double-standard hypocrite you are. You clearly know nothing about the male brain and what men are attracted to. Case in point: Don’t dress like a slut, and you won’t be treated like one. The elderly Cuban guy said it himself, you were wearing revealing clothing and showing off one of your biggest and most private assets. Typical American skank. Unbelievable, women these days…so pretentious, so self-righteous…

  37. Steph April 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Excellent article. I’ve lived in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for 6 months, and hopefully many more. I’m a volunteer teaching for three days a week, and have had a lot of opportunity to delve deeper into the machismo attitude.

    Young boys learn it from their fathers, who encourage them to comment on beautiful women. As children, they don’t learn that it is harmful, disrespectful, or hurtful. When they grow into young men, they continue the behavior, perhaps even worse as they’re egged on by their peers, and it gets worse and worse and continues throughout life.

    Girls are also raised with an emphasis on the importance of looks. The best compliment you can give a fellow female, is to tell her that she is really pretty.

    While the gestures, the comments (“TASTY!!”), and the occasional grabbing (seriously, this one crosses the line) makes me uncomfortable and exhausted.. I’ve come to accept that this is a deeply ingrained part of the culture and that no harm is meant to me. It’s complimentary (even though I don’t like it!!). It happens whether I am wearing shorts, or a skirt, or pants, or a coat that covers my entire body. The catcall in South America isn’t a reflection on your dress, your perceived availability or openness, or anything else.

    What can be done? I think it needs to start with the girls. Teach women that personality, respect, education, and intelligence are important, too. Stop complimenting other women only for being beautiful.

    People don’t continue their actions without rewards. If every single woman ignored or rolled her eyes at cat-calling, would it continue in South America? If girls weren’t more excited to receive compliments on their beauty than on their good character, would it continue? If parents and peers didn’t encourage boys to call at girls, and didn’t encourage girls to prioritize beauty.. would it continue?

    Please note – this isn’t blaming women. This isn’t blaming men. This isn’t blaming anyone. I just think the issue goes deeper and that men aren’t trying to be disrespectful. In fact, they see it as opposite of that – they are complimenting you, because that behavior is reinforced by everyone around them.

    • Ralph April 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

      Great comment Steph! You’re right: Let’s not simplify. We know that sexual behavior is complex. Those of you who don’t know that are in for a rocky (or barren) love life.

      Haven’t we all flexed a little or done things that we may have considered outright wrong surrounding courtship or sex? If not, you may not be looking very deeply into your own character, desires, or the differences between yourself and others.

      I don’t advocate predatory or aggressive behavior towards anyone, but as Americans we have to see that our cultural lens is sometimes foggy. Our society also values looks above most things, but we also have a taboo or frigid attitude that does not acknowledge that sex is something that drives people.

      Flora, why not just dance with the guy who bought you the drink? After all, you’re in public, with friends and bystanders around. It is rude to accept a drink and not even acknowledge the compliment you’ve been given by someone paying attention to you. People in Latin America go out to dance! Dancing is a beautiful part of the culture of Latin America. If the young man is inappropriate, you have the right to politely (or impolitely at that point) abstain or step away.

      If you accepted a drink as a friend, maybe you should return the favor, or if you are only seeking friendship, why not engage him in conversation? If you’re not interested in males as friends or sexual interests, why are you going to night clubs and accepting drinks from strangers?

      Also, in Latin America it is very common for friends and siblings to dance in a way that puritanical Americans would think is inappropriate or incestuous. These people are sharing personal space because they trust each other and want to have fun. At the same time, nowhere is more common the totally anonymous and clumsy drunken booty grinding than in the USA. This may be presumptuous, but how many times have each of us participated in that?

      • Ralph April 30, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

        We gringos have some thinking to do!

      • Steph April 30, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

        While I don’t think we should condemn anyone for anything, I also don’t think that we should condone activities that we consider “outright wrong” – even and especially when they were done for the purpose of courtship / sex.

        I think it is always good to try and come from a point of understanding and openness to any culture, but my above comment was NOT condoning the awful behavior of men in South America – only that I think it is a bigger issue that applies to the whole culture and not only to men.

        If you are not open to harassment on the street does not mean you have a “taboo or frigid attitude” towards sex in general – just that you choose not to engage with someone who takes such a lewd and aggressive and physical manner of approach. Perhaps she would have been interested in having a conversation with someone who kindly approached her, commented that she looked like she was not from the area, and struck up a conversation upon culture, politics, or any other topic in the world. The key thing being – mutual interest and mutual engagement and most importantly MUTUAL RESPECT!

  38. jim james May 1, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    While it may be uncomfortable for you , it is their culture..

    This ” i am a victim of staring” is really a bit over the top. Did any man actually try and grab you and rape you? No.

    The problem is twofold. You didnt like the old man leering. Ok. Now if it was a very handsome male paying attention..ah remember its not harrassment if hes handsome. So you really want the ability to mind control who watches you. OMG the entitlement !

    The second part revolves around the narcisstic personality of the western female. The world should and must revolve around your wants and desires. Really, grow up. You should having matured by now past an age of where “feeeeelings ” are your reality.

    You should remember that your flower only blooms for a short while. When you have hit the wall and men no longer pay attention, you may wish that anyone looked at you rather than being invisible.

    • Mara May 8, 2015 at 1:40 am #

      Poor thing, this “jim james”, seems to have never grown up to know the difference between manly behaviour and little boy’s behaviour, and believes childish, unmanly quirks are something that should flatter a healthy woman. And that a woman should be restricted mentally to wanting to receive just any kind of attention.
      And that proverbial grudge against Western women – too painfully obvious he is a failure in their eyes))
      Also, deplorably dim on biology: females are only supposed to welcome attention from competitive, ‘worthy’ males. The ones Flora describes are clearly backward in those terms and should thank Mother Nature they are in a human society and do not get attacked for their ‘advances’ like they would among other species)))

      • jim james May 8, 2015 at 2:00 am #

        Well Mara , when not able to logically refute , the first tactic is to always go to shaming language. How predictable. Problem is its effectiveness is exhausted.

        Its time to realize that everyone is liable for critique and woman no more than men are not immune to it. Im surprised you didnt toss in “misogyny” too.

    • Flora July 11, 2015 at 10:54 am #

      I, and many of my female friends, have been grabbed inappropriately while travelling by men. I wonder if that’s ever happened to you?

      • jim james July 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

        Yes it has, by women, in Brazil.

        Additionally, it is not a problem is it , when Im grabbed by women in bars or female acquaintences when I run into them?

        At least its not supposed to be , according to the never discussed female double standard of the day.

        Boiled down to its essence , the argument is Man = bad and Women = can do no wrong as the perpetual victim.

        But then introspection was never womens strong suit.

        • Kendra July 28, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

          Dude if it’s a problem speak the fuck up. If you pulled you face out of your ass you would know feminists are concerned about violence against men from both men and women. Most men are raped by other men so generally the conversation revolves around men-men violence.

          • jim james July 28, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

            Ah I see. Men should speak the fuck up but women cant. Cause we are all equal n stuff .

            No most men commenting here are not and will not support The Feminist narrative because we we have experience enough not to follow their words but their ACTIONS.

          • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:20 am #

            Both genders BECOME NINJAS I mean with a ninja nothing matters because you are better than others MAN OR WOMAN!! What I do martial arts master and proud!! Who’s with me?!

  39. Mara May 8, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    This is a most fascinating feedback, Flora, thanks for sharing it. Quite helpful to me too, as I’ve been toying with vague plans to move to work in Latin America for a while now. And I am a criminologist focusing on sex crimes, so I am most conscious of such aspects as gender culture.
    One thing that did surprise me, however, was – mind you, I have very little experience with Latin America, but plenty of in-depth acquaintance with Africa, the CIS and some parts of Asia; still the few Latin American societies I have come into contact with were perhaps precisely where I found surprisingly little sexual harassment, compared to other places, – you mention you have travelled across Morocco and Egypt, surely you must have met with way more street heckling there?

    I could also suggest some tips here, if I may (and I do not mean to sound like I am mentoring you or anything!) from my experience, both personal and professional:
    I see the problem as being partly European women’s somewhat ‘victim behaviour’ in such situations. We are embarrassed, baffled, frightened, we cringe and show our lack of confidence and readiness to be imposed on and suppressed, which is interpreted as inability to stand up for ourselves.
    See, we are accustomed to being nice, tactful and polite, whereas most cultures outside of the Western world value and respect assertiveness, even aggression sometimes.

    Have you actually ever tried being ‘pro-active’ and repel their advances?
    If physical violence is not an option for you, you can try psychological intimidation.
    One thing that REALLY works usually is making fun of them publicly, laughing and humiliating them. This is something that does not even require using foul language or being violent. Show them that you do not mind MEN’s attention, but they are not men for you. This works even better if you do it in front of a large number of people, or if you know the ‘aggressor’ and speak denigratingly about his inability to control himself, to be a man and to behave like one in the presence of his friends, colleagues or people who will henceforth be making fun of him for that.
    If you are in a country where they tend to be patriotic, you can play on that and try hurting their national pride, emphasising that this kind of behaviour puts their nation somewhere below others. In other words, Stop Trying To Be Nice:)) You don’t have to, if they are not nice to you.
    One thing that struck me in your and Heather’s account here was how you were forced to succumb to the aggression you were exposed to, first inwardly, but then forced to play by their rules in your daily routine.
    I think, this is the point where the assaulter begins to win his way. It is not you who should modify your ways and consent to receive less respect; it is them who should revise their ways if they want to be treated with respect.
    Also, it is universal knowledge that in sex crimes or any crimes involving intimidation the attackers are invariably and extremely cowardly and count on the victim being disorientated and intimidated. They also usually dread their behaviour being made public and discussed as something sick, childish; show them you can’t take someone behaving like this seriously. ‘Outing’ is always very important with sex offenders. Trust me, social disapproval is a POWERFUL thing!

    • Biggsy May 8, 2015 at 8:26 am #

      Mara – you mentioned being ‘pro-active’ and repelling their advances, both physically and psychologically. But what if a shyer, quieter woman doesn’t want to be all confrontational and “Alpha female” and simply wants to walk down the street to get from A to B without having to think/worry about things too much :s

      • Mara May 9, 2015 at 6:51 am #

        Hi Biggsy,
        I am not saying one HAS to do that, am I?;)
        Besides, I don’t think we are talking about being an Alpha female here really, in general life, at least.
        We are talking about handling a particular uncomfortable or even dangerous situation. And if one feels like one wants to do something about it and protect oneself against it…
        If a woman wishes to simply ignore it, then the problem is not there at all, I guess. But she’s not going to avoid it unless she does something about it, that’s sort of a law of physics.

  40. Mara May 8, 2015 at 5:19 am #

    I am now based in Russia, which is a curious society in terms of gender relations. There is an enormous amount of violence here, at the same time, there is relatively little street heckling – the northern temperament obviously))
    I personally make a point of wearing showy, extravagant clothes which I like (not revealing, don’t like that myself, but things like latex skirts, camouflage saris, bright colours and bold designs), keeping my head high, with a slight confident and arrogant smile on my face, oozing confidence and that ‘I could not bother noticing you, nitwits’ attitude. This is part of me telling them and myself – you won’t take away my human dignity from me and my confidence. No one is there to tell me how I should dress because I personally think they are dressed like idiots too)) And when I see an interested creature approaching, I simply look through him like as if he was an empty space. At the same time, I sometimes spot a much more reserved and attractive (ok, ok, tall blond man))) and make it clear to the aspiring harasser that That one is a REAL MAN! After all, I do not mind men’s attention, do I? only that I want REAL men – tall, blond, blue-eyed Germans, for example, who are incredibly sexy, and since I am an attractive woman, as hecklers obliged to inform, I obviously deserve the company of attractive, manly men))) (don’t ask me what I’m gonna do when I come across a pushy tall, blond German, my conviction of non-existence of such species precludes my figuring out that:)))
    …If they start ranting about you being in their country and all that, ask them to proclaim officially and in public that this sort of behaviour is part of their culture and this is how they should be treated, tell them you’re going to broadcast this about their country to the rest of the world, ask them whether they are prepared to observe all local customs when travelling abroad, like copulating with the totem animal as the tradition of some tribes in some countries require.
    We Westerners are taught to be politically correct and respectful of other cultures, without realising that on some instances political correctness and ‘when in Rome’ become basically forms of racism. If we take it that all people are equal and entitled to the same rights no matter where they are from or what they look like, then there is no such thing as ‘local culture’, everyone has to recognise the conventional human rights.
    Plus there is one other tip, but that should be applied with hmm… care. Remember that in most cultures where men are taught it is normal to approach women, they are quite unaccustomed to a vice versa situation. I made my time in the North Caucasus a great fun by playing with the local tradition of kidnapping brides through accosting men showing signs of interest and demanding categorically that they kidnap me, making very blunt advances, asking him whether his traditional highlander’s dagger is big enough, making loud remarks about them and being pushy. For the rest of my time I could walk safely alone at any time of night, because even local hooligans simply fled as soon as they saw me! They panicked because they did not know what to do in situations like that!
    The key thing is to remember that you are entitled to respect and feel very firmly about it inside. And then it sort of projects outside.
    Here, many many words, sorry for that(( but I hope this may be of some help to you at some point, at least some of it, coming from someone who’s been working around the globe.

    • Shannon June 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

      I want you to know that I find you to be some sort of magical, powerful creature to be able to command how others react to you. It seems to me that you know exactly what you want and exactly how to get it. You are amazing.

  41. John Casper May 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Relax gringa, i live in mexico and they have some of the most beautiful women in the world- just go to the grocery store…hollywood has nothing on the average mexican mujer! Too bad american women are not more in touch (pun intended) with their total femininity instead trying to be like men.Total brainwash by capitalist illusions focused on profit and women’s attempts to gain power though leveraging their plastic sexuality.

  42. Cesar May 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    OH MY GOD LADIES! You all do relish your victimhood. Unfortunately ladies, sexual and/or romantic encounters are two-way streets. Young ladies (i.e., between 20 – 35) love to use their “charm” and “sex appeal” to get what they want, but god forbid its flipped on them. Then, it isn’t fair, their threatened, visually groped . . . bla bla bla. At the end of the day, men pick up women; its what they do. Whereas women (always trying to avoid slut-shaming) merely “entice” men when it suits them. Machismo, as you like to call it, is alive and well worldwide, it isn’t a Latino thing, its a guy thing. The only difference between Latin American men and say, white boys from the US, is that Latinos aren’t hypocrites about. Sorry to be crude, but it is what it is . . .

    • Flora July 11, 2015 at 11:02 am #

      Yep, Cesar, you’ve got it – us women simply love to relish in the idea of being sexually harassed on a regular basis. I do wonder, though, how this conversation would go if that harassment (and its accompanying fears of safety and vulnerability) was something men had any experience of, too..

      • jim james July 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

        Probably because this comment basks in the pure ignorance of navel ga ing victimhood ; one cannot comprehend that men these days get plenty yes plenty of the same treatment.

        Of course we re supposed to laugh it off cause we all really want it right?

        See my latest comment about double standards.

      • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:28 am #


    • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

      You hit right in the nail. I also noticed there is sexism/machismo from Anglo-Americans, but like you say, Anglo-Americans are hypocrites/discreet about it because their society has a strong emphasis on political correctness as well as their culture has strong puritanical overtones, whilst us Mexicans, Latin Americans and Southern Europeans are more cynical/shameless about it. I think neither one is good in my honest opinion.

      I used to live in USA for 14 years, so I know American culture and mentality from head to toe.

  43. Alex May 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Well its quite a bad thing the staring, the whistle and the dirty looks. You said that most of the times are harmless but its quite harmful for people who are actually not used to that. Every culture has its problems of course, latin ones usually have the one about the clear limitations of the well put roles of the sexes and many traditions that are made of rock.
    Im a man so I can understand how difficult sometimes it can be to control the body when certain situations and even when you spend so much time in our countries I will tell you that you still cannot understand our cultures.

    Cuenca is one of the most beautiful places with beautiful ppl, you thought the man who called you a princess was trying to hit on you when he was that old?? I can imagine the old man and its quite insulting to describe him as a pervert. He didnt tell you (oh deliciosa, diosa, mi vida, bombon) he called you princesa which we call to pretty women and little girls. I call princesas to my nieces and sisters, to the little girls that approach me when I walk the street and to the pretty girls I interact with. Now do I want to stick my manhood in any of them, of course not, an old man even more, as his you know what is not working anymore.

    I can understand that in most of the places young men will stare and give all those annoying noises, there are campaigns making it change and personally I was taught to never do that. But heck is worse than the growing porn industry of America, the horrible objectification of women in tv and the many problems the developed world actually have.

    We know our women like to be called pretty, we know also that is harmless to tell them so. That is why we do it, the concept of strangers is quite different from white cultures where most fear human interaction and human warmth. Of course is good to fight against all those dirty things ignorant men say to women everyday, but please make a distinction between sexual harassment and compliments ppl do everyday. I work in Vancouver so Im used to wear fancy stuff, ppl in Bogota often shout at me how dandy I look and how I would rock the city. Now should I be upset cause they judge me from how I look rather from what I really am? My sister is a beautiful woman, she winks at the men who tell her all those things and that actually is bad for me, as she becomes cocky and her ego increases too much hahahaha

    We treasure a lot our women, way more than white ppl do in my opinion, we dont make songs about ass wiggling, hitting women. We would fking never say stupid things like “get back to the kitchen” “Slap that bi!@” “Tap that A” or “Here is the rape train”
    We treat sex differently, more of a natural thing that involves emotions and adventures. We dont treat it like an animal thing like white ppl usually do. That is why you might find that most of latinas still prefer us ugly latin men over the gorgerous europeans or americans.

    Great post still, I inform you that movements against all that crap are getting stronger. Men are actually getting better from my point of view though Im bias here. I hope all that mistreatment didnt destroy your impression of our beautiful lands, and we shall await you with open arms even if you hate us latinos XD

    • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:33 am #

      Ummm hold up you talk to random girls who are in the street and call them princesses…. don’t you remember what papa told you about STRANGERS. And didn’t ya watch taken? Or the walking dead or something?

    • Erwin Ordonez-Gonzalez March 1, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

      Mate, where is your pride to be a Latin man? Not all Latino men are ugly. Maybe you are ugly, but I am not as I have been told I am 8/10 in attractiveness. I actually see more good looking and better dressed Latino men than Anglo-American men on average (no homo).

      You just made a fool out of yourself by showing your inferiority complex. The reality is that beauty is measured how symmetrical one’s facial features are regardless of race, ethnicity or skin colour.

      Well, at least us guys from Guadalajara, Mexico, have the reputation to be one of the best looking guys in Mexico.

  44. sammy June 23, 2015 at 2:18 am #

    Because your legs were bare? How about your boobs hanging halfway out your shirt!!! Lol

  45. Shannon June 24, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Ah, so many “enlightened” comments by our male contributors here. It makes me feel a lot like this:

  46. SZ July 10, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Yeah I can understand you are annoyed, but realize then hetero men are going to find you attractive. The catch 22 here is that feminism in the US in my opinion killed men from being men in the United States, and now western culture suppresses western male sexual behavior to such a degree that women who like men in the west do not find attractive. Latino culture knows this and thus encorages men to behave like men in order to up each latino males chances of getting laid in order for men to have fun and to promote them to have children so the human lifecycle can continue naturally and unabated.

  47. Kendra July 28, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Cat calling and street harassment affects all women. But it does vary depending on race. Like the Cuban girl you pointed out, you don’t know her so you don’t know what she experiences. But in the states it’s very common for a black girl to be catcalled, harassed and sexually assaulted at a young age. We are seen as less valuable thus any offense against us is more permissible whereas some guys would not dare do that to a white woman or white girl b/c they fear legal repercussion. And I know this is also the experience of Afro-Latinas and guys do talk about this openly. This is just one facet of patriarchy and control of female bodies. You are always being policed and having male validation forced upon you in one way or another. These guys do not care how old you are, what you look like or whose family you belong to. They are exerting power over you. How they express it depends on how much they think they can get away with and what is culturally supported. Most guys are not going to get in trouble for sexually harassing or assaulting women so it happens quite frequently.

    • jim james July 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

      I think when you threw in the loaded and nebulously undefinable terms like “patriarchy” ; you discredit your own argument that may have been describing your own valid experiences.

      Further, making statistically un supportable claims regarding the frequency of REAL ( not feminist contrived ) sexual assault , additionally self undermines .

      Finally the claim that men face no consequences for sexual assault and harrassment is beyond farcical. Look at the campus witchhunts desperately trying to gin up some sort of mass vixtim narrative that have crashed and burned repeatedly. And yet the regulations continue to growore onerous and throw the presumption of onnocence out the window. Remember, stronf empowered adult women have no agency over their lives. ( roll eyes )

      • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

        Get out of here, you MRA troll. You know nothing of sexual assault or harassment. Your exaggerated fears of “witch hunts” (read: false rape claims, which are rare and the same as for any other crime) is not only written in ironic language–real witch hunts were about persecuting and killing women, not men, you know–but also telling. Kind of like how the loudest homophobes are often the deepest in denial. You (like all MRA types) strike me as dangerous. Go away and leave this woman alone.

        • jim james October 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

          I ll let Flora decide , not you. You can tantrum all you want.

          You can deny statistical evidence ; I will feel free to ignore your denials.

    • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

      I’m sorry for your experiences, and not trying to whitesplain or invalidate them. Just want to chime in that white women get harassed and sexually assaulted with great frequency too, almost exclusively by entitled white men (at least in my experience).

  48. Kendra July 28, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    You did make an interesting observation about “owing” something toward guys for their so-called “generosity”. This a problem in the states as well. Guys thinking that you owe them your time, body and labor without them having to be decent human beings in return. Or that they are nice for the sole purpose of you sleeping with them as currency. They don’t understand the idea that just b/c you give something to someone you are not owed gratitude or anything in return. That it is not a barter-ship or form of ownership. I totally get what you were saying.

    I’ve come to realize that I’ll be dealing with pretty much the same shit in a different toilet no matter where I travel. So it’s helpful to get an inside look so I know what to expect and where to go when there’s trouble. I’m just as likely to run into trouble in my college town so I’m not afraid to be honest.

  49. sg July 31, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    I can see why any Mexican would stare at you in the picture with your friends. I’m Mexican and the problem is the shorts and the cleavage. To diminish such advances (you can never quite eliminate them) I always wore jeans. More modest tops that show no cleavage were necessary in rural areas, though in Mexico City there is more leeway. Is it fair? No. But it’s not about fairness, it’s about getting less rude comments. And, yes, you always have to ignore them and be icy towards them. You’re lucky no one followed you back to your home/hotel. If you engage them they sometimes do that.

  50. mary hood August 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    I have traveled to several countries in Latin america and have never experienced such sexual harrassment as when I lived in Argentina. Un-freaking-believeable. I got used to it over there and coming back home to the states was a huge culture shock! Aun asi, amo mi buenos aires querido 🙂

  51. Kevin G September 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    Do you ever think about how poor Latinos feel about people from wealthy countries coming to their country and leering at their poverty, many of them feeling smug and superior, as though their culture must be superior. .that is the reason there is more wealth?
    undoubtedly you spent more on your little trip to Cuba than the typical Cuban earns in 3 years..
    similar but to a lesser extent in some other countries and expect the typical person who could never travel outside their country or maybe even their town to smile and be all friendly to the typical self absorbed gringo tourist, right? Hardly any Cuban not a high up member in the Communist party government or an athlete or artist can, or ever has, traveled outside of Cuba. .most probably have never seen the next town over.
    how would you feel if foreigners came to your country and acted as though you were an animal in a zoo..constantly pointing cameras at you and snapping photos..without your permission or consent?

  52. Kevin G September 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    “Adjusting to Latino idiosyncrasies “ eating guinea pig..could you possibly be a little more sneering and culturally insensitive?

    That is hardly widespread. .to my knowledge only exists in some mountainous areas of northern Ecuador and southern Colombia.

    The vast majority of people in Latin America do NOT eat guinea’s hardly as though you HAD TO eat it, if you chose to do so, your choice

    You forgot to mention, mock, make fun of , and sneer at, as most travel blogs do, the “chicken buses”, which gringos love to hype and sneer about. Although they hardly exist now in many Latin countries. .and rarely actually contain chickens, where they do.

    but you should have the obligatory story about sharing a bus with 50 people, 100 chickens, 6 llamas and 4 goats..your racist gringo readers would lap that up.

    • JT September 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      My thoughts exactly on the guinea pig line. She certainly did not have to “adjust” to eating guinea pig. I’d wager $50 she ate it in Cusco, Peru and paid a fairly high price – compared to other dishes – to do so. I mean, she could’ve just eaten at one of the 500 pizza restaurants but chose to eat guinea pig instead. I don’t blame her though, it is delicious.

    • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

      I live in Mexico and living here has forced me to confront uncomfortable realities about my privilege and racism, which has been eye-opening. And I hate to say it, and wish it weren’t true, but I am looking forward to going home and no longer being singled out (stared at, yelled at, treated differently, etc.) because I am white in an area with few white people. And I know I chose to come here, and don’t blame people for doing this necessarily; nevertheless it makes me uncomfortable, and feel far too visible, and I am looking forward to no longer experiencing that.

      On the other hand, I now understand how minorities feel in predominantly white communities where they feel stared at, judged, and stereotyped by the white people around them.

      And I know I am the one with white/financial privilege here (even if it’s not a lot in US terms, it’s a lot relative to the people here). Most people here in the small town where I live have not had all the experiences I’ve had and many I take for granted (for example, having eaten what is to me a common food from another culture, or having traveled on an airplane). Most of them can not afford to do what I’ve done these past few months (take time off working for a while, even if I’m living very frugally by Western standards). Many are desperately poor, an experience I’ve never had. Nevertheless we are all people and can learn from each other (I know I can learn a lot from them too and should refrain from my tendency to be the “educated white (or otherwise privileged) person”) and we are all people with our basic feelings and desires in common.

  53. Kevin G September 9, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    When will you have a story entitled Racism, Cultural Insensitivity and the Gringo Superiority Complex Towards Latin America?

    I won’t hold my breath, you are too self absorbed to see how racist you really are

    • Hannah October 30, 2015 at 4:57 am #

      Kevin I understand where you’re coming from in that often tourists can sweep through an area, do the package tour, get the photos and leave but it really doesn’t sound like that’s what Flora did. She didn’t say that all of Latin America eats guinea pig but merely offered it as an example of sampling something local. Same as chapulines being common in Mexico, plenty of people come and visit and are disgusted at the thought, happy to eat in restaurants on the zocalo offering pizza and chips without trying any traditional food.

      Do you travel and if so what do you do to avoid the cultural insensitivity that mentioned? Yes being able to afford to travel is a luxury but it is not something to be sneered at. Having some degree of disposable income doesn’t immediately discredit a person’s integrity or make them view themselves as superior. Again of course some tourists are superficial and narcissistic, but many learn from their travels and experiences. To tar all tourists as being racist and culturally insensitive is as equally unfair as tarring all Latin American men as being sexist/macho, which Flora explicitly stated is not the case. I think it’s human nature to be curious, we want to explore and see other cultures, the world would be far less interesting and accepting if we didn’t.

      Regarding taking photos, as long as it’s done respectfully with people’s permission, why not? When I was in Asia plenty of people asked to take photos with me and I didn’t mind, it was a novelty for me and them and usually a good way to get chatting. My friend and I were so baffled at how to cross a main road in Vietnam that the police helped us and lots of people stopped to take photos – what’s the harm? Likewise at home in Ireland one of my best friends has bright red curly hair and lots of freckles and tourists frequently ask to take photos with her because she fits the stereotypical notion of an Irish “cailín” – again, not a problem.

      The issue here is not racism or cultural insensitivity but people being made to feel uncomfortable, objectified or downright unsafe. Yes the vast majority of these people happen to be women but that is not to say that it does not happen the other way round, or that it is ok for women to objectify men. I think the difference is (and correct me if I’m wrong) unwanted sexual attention from women towards men, while making them feel uncomfortable or objectified does not necessarily make them feel unsafe. I have yet to hear of a case where a woman overpowered a man and raped him. Reversed, unwanted attention from men can make women feel unsafe as in general they are physically not as strong as men and therefore less able to defend themselves in an attack and unfortunately there are countless cases of men overpowering women and raping them. This is why piropo is uncomfortable and often scary. It highlights to a woman that a man has registered her presence, is watching her and finds her sexually attractive.

    • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:37 am #

      My dad is Kevin Garnett hi dad …….Jk where are the comedians when you need them?

  54. Michael September 22, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    This is the way the world was made. You have to accept the fact that you are a woman and should act like a lady. It is natural for the men to court and approach the submissive woman. It is good for men to be bold, but they should respect that you are taken if you are accompanied by a male. This is the way that God had intended civilization to be. Your a woman, so act like one and be proud to be able to be the gender that can please and calm down a situation by being performing domestic duties and speaking calmly. I hope you can come to terms with the way the world is and find a man that supports you and you to him.

    • Molina October 1, 2015 at 3:04 am #

      I can’t for the life of me imagine why you feel it is appropriate to admonish the author to “act like a lady”. Whatttttt? This thread is about men who do not act like gentlemen.

      And may I add, the definition of “ladylike” behavior various from culture to culture. It is a contrivance of societal conditioning and has nothing to do with god.

      There are quite a few (most/ all ?) women all over the world that have a heck of a lot more to offer than speaking calmly and doing domestic chores. I understand that your culture must place a value of some sort on this, and that’s great. But please do not lecture based on your own cultural view that does not fit everywhere. There are many many many ways of “being”, and each is valid to that individual.

    • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

      You, sir, are a relic. I’m not sure what you’re even doing on a blog written by a woman, much less a woman traveler. Did you know women can vote now, and go to school too? *gasp!*

      • jim james October 13, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

        Oh so you are the person who decides who can comment on this blog. And here I thought it was Flora! She seems to have a good debate and exchange of experiences and opinions going here. Let her decide.

        But this typical of Feminist doctrine. Complain of oppression but be the first to block or attempt to censor dissenting opinion.

      • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:40 am #

        Yay Funny People lol on the gasp ! #LIKEAGIRL

    • unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Also, how does someone like you even know about the internet? Amazing…

  55. Lateisha October 1, 2015 at 2:26 am #

    Hi what are your thoughts on the latin america culture and femicide, which is soley based in their macho culture there. Yes there’s of course Femicide around the world, but latin america has the highest of all ratings.

  56. Alana October 6, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    Word up Lateisha truth boom so sad, let our silents not be and accomplice of the murdering of women across the globe, here in Puerto Rico so sad to, men must be worried of being mugged and beaten, but women of being mugged, beaten, then rapped and killed. Just yesterday in the “good” part of town where I live, a 40 year old woman was shoot in the face near here home after they took here iPhone away. :/. She is alive but in critical condition. A crime like this is a symptom of sick culture, shows a general hate for women. And we have American passports, I see a lot of shade obviously by boys on her writing as a woman tourist, guys guys why don’t you just go back to that latest zombie fest on YouTube or something. Peace out queens

  57. Louise October 10, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    I travelled around Latin America with my boyfriend and didn’t experience any problems whilst with him. On two occasions we became separated. The first, I crossed the road before him and it took a while for the traffic to clear for him to join me. In those few minutes I experienced hissing and cat calling. The second time was on the metro in Buenos Aires. It was particularly busy and we ended up at separate ends of the carriage. I was groped by a policeman for several minutes until I had the room to reach back and pinch him hard. He did then stop but also grinned at me! I’m quite petite but have a fiery temper and certainly not afraid to confront even the toughest looking guy – the incident with the policeman however is the only time I’ve felt genuinely intimidated. Unfortunately though, I have come to just expect it and not let it bother me too much – it’s a shame it has to be like that though.

  58. Robert H October 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    This is not a Latin American issue. It’s a class issue. Low class people hang out in the streets everywhere in the world. Low class men catcall women at least in part because it’s the only way and the only time that they experience any power. They’re very aware of their low status among other men, and just like low-status chimps, they’re shunned by women too, even low class women. So shouting things at women passing by and suffering no consequence gives them a little boost, about the only boost they ever get.

    I’m not justifying the behavior, but it’s a reality. It’s no different walking down the streets of Brooklyn.

    It’s one of the unpleasant or annoying things in life we have to deal with, like car break-ins. They too are largely carried out by low class men. But we don’t write articles blaming men or Latin America. No, what we do is we don’t leave valuables in our cars nor even things that suggest they hold valuables, like boxes or bags.

  59. unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    I live in Mexico, and though I’ve been harassed here (most notably by a group of “ni nis” in the park-like median I jogged past every day on my way home from work, who ALWAYS had to yell at me and comment on my body, including saying things about how I was losing weight and commenting on my running form, and screaming “metalo!” when I gave them the finger; I dreaded running past that area and no longer run there, and ignore them when I have to go the nearby store there) usually it is just “you’re beautiful” etc. in the street. (Hermosa, bonita, guapa, whatever). In my experiences with Mexican men I’ve found them to be just as rapey as American guys, unfortunately (that is, they think it’s perfectly okay to try and prey on a drunk woman whether she says no or not or take advantage of you even if you’re a friend). This is why I no longer go to bars and clubs and drink (anything) or go to bars and clubs at all (they will inundate me); it’s also why I don’t go to bars and clubs anywhere else in the world either, or ever drink with men, even men I know, ever, anymore. Even a little bit.

    However, it’s true that in the US I experienced more random sexual assaults from strangers (I also experienced this more in Italy, Spain, France and Japan). It’s also true that men in the streets will often yell much grosser things like “you got big tits” or “I’d hit that,” etc. (so disgusting), as well as insulting things (once someone yelled at me “lose weight bitch” as I was biking; I tend to yo-yo a bit and was chubby, though far from obese; also, I was BIKING YOU IDIOT, NOT EATING AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE; also it’s none of your fucking business, asshole). So there’s more hateful kind of harassment in the US, definitely. And they also seem to think that telling you you’re fuckable is the ultimate compliment, whereas Latino men will usually try to tell you all kinds of lines about how you’re beautiful (and compliment specific facial features, not your body) and call you “angel” and etc. to get you to like them. I do notice in Mexico that I get a ton of married men and men with girlfriends hitting on me (and they don’t bother to hide it), which seems to be a part of the machismo culture.

    What really annoys me and has made me semi-agoraphobic in my last few months here (since I quit my job) is the racial attention I get for being white, in a small town in Oaxaca. Men constantly yell “guera” at me, and this is definitely sexual as only men do it, and they often do it with a leer/a leering tone (if it’s dark and I can’t see them) and sometimes follow me. I hate being stared at for being white too (and I’m constantly being stared at, by everyone). Although I have several great Mexican friends and have dated here and speak Spanish fluently I have gotten sick of it. (As my blond sister, who got yelled at multiple times when she took my bike out for fifteen minutes, put it, “I don’t know you can stand it. I hate being a spectacle). That is what annoys me more than anything, is this constant staring/attention for being white. Sometimes it’s resentful (and sometimes people treat me resentfully even when I patronize their business, which is really stupid, IMO). I understand where that racial resentment comes from and the history of racism against the indigenous and mestizos and Mexican racial hierarchies and Spanish colonialism but it is still not fun for me, at all, to have people treat me badly because I am white (which happens sometimes, sometimes in really obvious ways; I have had people be straight out mean to me, others be sullen and hostile, and some make racist comments; mostly women, whereas the men tend to sexually fetishize me). I know I bring my own biases to the table too. I also know it would be totally different in a place like Mexico City. Nevertheless I am tired of it and looking forward to going home soon (even if I’ll miss the beautiful ocean and some of my wonderful friends here).

    Yes, even if the harassment is not as bad the being a spectacle is worse (and doesn’t happen back home, of course), even if it’s understandable in an area without many white people. (I didn’t feel like such a spectacle when I lived in Japan; people would look but not stare–that is, they’d look away if I noticed them looking–and never yell things at me; and they were generally well-mannered and interested in me, as a foreigner. I don’t care if people are not interested in me but I don’t like being treated badly for being different, although it’s probably a good lesson to me, as a white person, to see it from the other side).

    I know lots of Mexicans are very warm and etc. and this doesn’t describe everyone. This might actually be because of racial tensions here where I am living, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just me, or I’m just focusing on the negative. But I’m definitely looking forward to going home, and in the future I would definitely choose to live in a bigger city where I wouldn’t stick out as much (if I ever were to stay in Mexico).

  60. Melina October 14, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    Flora, I’m from Brazil and I really hate this kind of men behavior. Nowadays, some women here use to react against the “kisses and princess” on the streets, but the most common behavior is fake that u dont see or hear anything.
    The vídeo below was made by a female journalist walking for 2 hours on the streets and she registers the horror show thats it is for a woman.
    Very good text!

    • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:44 am #

      But why no u tell dem weirdos to leave you alone AND go to hell.. that’s what I would do if the sensei not there

  61. Jenny October 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    Spot on. In Mexico, it ranges between all out catcalling to the oddly creepy ‘Hola men’, who just look you up and down and suggestively mutter ‘Hola’ at you as you’re walking past. It’s so weird. As for the cat calling, the whole ‘it’s a compliment’ thing is bullshit. It’s just rude. The general rule for human interaction – especially when you don’t know them – should be: “Is it polite?” Making women feel uncomfortable with unwanted comments is not polite. It’s not polite to shout at women in the street, and it’s certainly not polite to make kissing noises! Are they 12?
    I love Mexico, and to be honest, this has been a very small part of the overall experience here for me, but that’s probably because I’m here with my husband. Goodness knows what it’s like if you’re on your own or with other women. I’m glad you sparked this discussion, it’s interesting (and sometimes depressing) to read the different responses in the comments.

  62. Gül October 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Hey Flora,

    I have a question about the women in South America…now we see on telenovelas that women are wearing sexy clothes and no men is watching them as a sex object. so I thought women always wear like that, because it is usual to Latinas..can you confirm or deny this? I hope you understand my question.

  63. Hannah October 30, 2015 at 3:03 am #

    Wonderful post and unfortunately I like so many other women who have commented can strongly relate to this.

    I found your post today as I was searching for advice on how to deal with piropo in Latin America. I am currently on exchange studying in Puebla and it is my first time in Latin America. There are so many things that I absolutely love about the culture here, the warmth of the people, their openness and their fun loving attitudes to name but a few. I have traveled a lot and love exploring and seeing things through a different cultural lens. The harassment of women however, is not ok, not here, not anywhere, no matter what culture.

    It is a daily barrage in the streets here. Perhaps I feel it even more because I thankfully have experienced little to none of it in my home country Ireland. That is in no way to say that it doesn’t occur there and I did recently read an article written by a woman detailing the verbal harassment she endured while waiting for a bus in Dublin city on a Saturday night but thankfully bar some poor drunken chat up lines from guys my own age, I have never been on receiving end of it.

    During my first week, I was walking in the street in front of my university, a busy, well lit road lined with bars and restaurants and regularly patrolled by police. I was wearing long pants, runners and a rain coat. A guy cycled by and squeezed my ass and groped my boob. I cried. I felt disgusting, intimidated, violated and so so angry. And the anger hasn’t gone away. A few weeks beforehand, a junkie tried to rob me in Dublin city. Yes I may have been perceived as an easier target because I was woman but he didn’t attack me because I am a woman, but because I had a bag and therefore money. At least his attempt at violation wasn’t simply based on my gender. I at least had the chance to punch him in the face and felt that I had been able to stand up for myself. Cycle-by groper on the other hand left me in shock, with hot tears of rage and indignation.

    I had read and heard about machismo but I probably should have done my research a little better – I wasn’t ready for the incessant and relentless nature of it. Unsure how to react to piropos, obscenities, “tsssssss” and cars slowing down, I have tried various approaches. I have ignored them, and felt weak and pathetic, as though this is acceptance and demonstrates a lack of self respect. I have attempted my best silent “bitch” stares only to be met by brazen, jeering faces staring right back and I have shouted and cursed retorts, seemingly to my tormentors delight, reminding me of what you are taught about school yard bullying and to ignore the insults….and so the circle begins again.

    The ensuing rage, I have learned to manage. My anger is founded in my perception that they think that they have the right to make remarks about me, that they think there is a difference between me and them, me and any other man or child or elderly grandmother in the street. The problem is as long as I view them as equals, I am enraged by their lack of reciprocation of this basic ounce of respect. So now as some meagre consolation, for every remark or hiss or “guapa” I here, I remind myself that these poor pathetic individuals have some deluded notion of superiority based on nothing other than the bodies our minds were born into and they’re wrong. Even if they don’t know it, or accept it, they’re wrong and I know it and that somehow helps keep me sane.

    A few weeks ago I was cycling home from a friend’s house nearby (yes in the dark but I was sober and on a fairly main road). I sensed someone behind me and turned as a man in his fifties reached out and grabbed my ass as he cycled by. I lashed out and caught him in the chest and cursed hard in English and Spanish and he didn’t say a word, just cruised on cycling. I didn’t cry this time, I wasn’t scared, just filled with a quiet rage. Initially I regretted that I hadn’t done more damage, knocked him from his bike, or gotten a reaction from him. Then I wondered what would have happened if I had. Should I be thankful that this filthy creep had simply chosen to casually grope me (gain dressed in long pants runners and a rain coat) as opposed to worse. And then I was angrier still that I should even have to think like that. That I, responsible, sober adult, covered from head to toe in a developed and supposedly strongly religious country should have to be grateful that at least this man old enough to be my father didn’t try to rape me. Sure it’s the little things right?

    And finally, yesterday, while cycling to college at 11.30am, the spidey senses kicked in (because I am permanently hyper alert now the minute I set foot off campus or outside my house) and I turned to see a guy my age reaching out to grab me. So I grabbed him. Our bikes collided but I’d had enough and I wasn’t letting go. He kept cycling and I was dragged a little but his hoodie ripped in my hands so I was left tangled in my bike on the road as he cycled away. He didn’t say anything, he looked back and looked at me like I was a weirdo. I was wearing long pants, flip flops and a baggy top. I picked up my broken bike, wrenched the mangled handlebars back to facing forwards and cried. The broken bike seemed to make it worse, it was physical, tangible evidence that this just happened and made it more than a fleeting moment. So I cried again. I am not a crier but unfortunately rage seems to manifest itself in tears sometimes at the injustice of it all and my own helplessness. Before continuing my slow walk towards college, I picked up the bit of his hoodie from the dirty street. Something to prove to myself for sanity’s sake that I am not weak, I do not tolerate this, I can and will and did fight back. A middle aged man saw me crossing the road, with bloody feet, dusty clothes and a broken bike and stopped to ask if I was ok. Too tired to bother trying to phrase it gently or hide the tears I told him what had happened and he was sad. He offered me a lift, pointed his house out and pointed to a nearby shop which he said was run by good people and said I could go to him or them if I ever needed anything. He also said he hoped that I do not think that all the people here are like that.

    Thankfully I don’t and this man’s kindness is one of the things that I love about Mexico, how people talk to you like you’re already their friend and there is a strong sense of community, But I also think that piropo builds walls and strengthens stereotypes. Constant harassment from men makes you suspicious. I have never been so aware of my body language in my life. I haven’t worn a skirt or a dress once since I arrived. I am instantly cautious every time a man initiates a conversation with me and feel a little more at ease once I hear that they have a girlfriend or a wife. I constantly work it into the conversation that I have a boyfriend and try to smile pleasantly at the usual response of “oh what a pity” or “but he’s not here in Mexico”, as if these are polite, normal things to say in a conversation with an absolute stranger.

    Forgive the essay, I think I needed to get it out, it’s been somewhat cathartic writing about it. I don’t think I ever appreciated enough what it means to live in a country where I am me, my personality before I am woman. I have never been so conscious of being a woman in my life. The piropo, hisses and catcalls, I can manage, and I can rationalize and calm the indignation. The physical harassment, I can not. This is MY body, NO ONE can touch me without my permission. How have others dealt with this?

    Phew….thank you 🙂

    • Flora November 8, 2015 at 11:57 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Hannah – I know how difficult it can be to do so. Hopefully you’re still really enjoying Mexico in spite of this kind of behaviour occurring from time to time. All the best 😀

    • ruthy82 August 4, 2016 at 8:18 am #

      I truly relate to this and wrote my own comments below in response to the experiences I’ve had recently. I hope that more women speak out about this. It’s just not ok. Blessings to you. I really relate to your thoughts about how it is your body. I’m feeling that too, my body is my own, I don’t want to be seen as different for having a female body. It’s terrible.

  64. Alex November 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    Hello, I like your article and it is awesome to travel to so many countries. I can see that you are a firm believer in gender equality and proper behavior among men and women, I agree. The world has a lot of variety and Latin culture is full of tradition and each area has it’s colloquialisms and what is considered proper behavior. I want you to know that respect for women, mothers, sisters,ones parents and elders is at the heart of latin culture, I can’t say the same for american culture. Throwing you a kiss is a compliment, take it lightly, there is no harm intended and don’t think the worst. Now hissing, etc is just to be funny, it can be annoying, a guy thing if you will (Like big guys in their hot rods or harleys making noise) maybe not the best way to get your attention, but still no danger or harm intended, just being fun or silly. Now lets be honest, women love attention and being liked is something good positive, not negative, so please give us latinos a break and don’t take it too personal, we just like to be more expressive, we can’t help it, we just love women in a good way, ok. Just my 2 cents. Thanks.

    • jennysmith9711 November 12, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      This is exactly the problem. Men say “It’s a compliment”, “take it in the way it’s intended” or – the worst one – “women love attention” when you will actually see that the majority of comments here are telling you the exact opposite – it’s harassment, it’s upsetting and we don’t like it. So, by ignoring this, you’re basically saying that your right to ‘be expressive’ and harass women – however much you see it as a ‘compliment’ – is more important than a woman’s right to be left alone.

      • ruthy82 August 4, 2016 at 8:12 am #

        Yes! What people who haven’t experienced it don’t understand is that it is about OUR bodies. It is deeply uncomfortable to have your body objectified, to be judged and harassed based on your body, to be shamed in the body in which you live. Only someone who has experienced this and is targeted on their own with a group of men can truly know what this feels like. Nobody should comment about it unless they know what it feels like to be in this position in their own body.

        • jim james August 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

          A key component of the discussion here is how women “feel”. “Feeling” safe as opposed to actual danger.

          If this world operated on the principle of individual feelings , and they can all be diametrically opposed, it would be an insane cacaphony.

          Whose feelings take priority if everyones equal? You wanted equality right?

          How about men in relations that “feel” abused verbally..something women are very good at. What about their feelings?

          If you are actually threatened, damn right something should be done. Feeeelings?
          Dont really care.

          • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 4:50 am #

            Now I am scared thanks jiim a lot . But what should KIDS do about this big issue huh? I AM 8 AND IN GIFTED 3RD GRADE I WANT ANSWERS PEOPLE THINK FOR US KIDOS WE IS YOUR FUTURE!

  65. fordquarterman November 24, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    What a great, honest account of your frustration regarding this issue in Latin America. I, being an American man who has spent considerable time in Latin America, am also frustrated. I’m the type of guy who has always been quick to distance myself, or even make fun of what I like to call pu$$yhounds. The type of dudes who seem to exist just to get laid. The guys who wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, and put their shoes on to go out into the world and see what sort of female they can hump that day. It consumes their every decision, and it’s pitiful. I particularly find many people in Western societies to be this sort of p-hound (I won’t say it again), ESPECIALLY Americans, English, Australians, & Germans. I find myself struggling not to stereotype entire countries after bumping into so many of these clowns on the beaten backpacker trail in certain parts of the world (SE Asia I’m looking at you).

    That being said, I’m not justifying this machismo mentality, but I do tend to agree with what you wrote about one of your followers comments that she would rather be called beautiful in Colombia, than some of the other things she is called in her neighborhood. I date a Mexican girl whom I met in Costa Rica, and we have had our ups and downs. One of the things we struggle with is she tells me that I don’t open up to her enough, don’t express myself, don’t share my emotions etc. You already know where I’m going with this, right? It’s the culture, the language, the latino fire, whatever you want to call it, that is not engrained in my DNA. I don’t care how much I love this woman, I’m never going to be cooing over her, stroking her hair, and telling her things like “Tu eres mi vida, mi cielo, mi reina. Tu eres mi razon por existir!” I just think it’s corny, ya know? haha. I don’t know where you’re from actually (I’m thinking England?), but this type of stuff just feels cheesy to us. And to women like yourself, I can totally understand why it seems disrespectful & lewd.

    But think from their perspective. If they really think they are giving you a compliment, and that is their way to boost a woman’s moral, then hell, they’re not such bad guys are they? If they were raised like that from their father’s before them, then I can’t fault them so much. Other aspects of the machismo culture I can fault such as subjection to men, old, traditional gender roles, etc. But a few click clicks, and smoochie smoochies?

    In fact, I think the degradation of women that has become part of western cultures is much much worse. The lyrics in rap music, the “bro” lifestyle, the hoes, the diva, Hollywood shit is much more demeaning to women, don’t you agree? I feel that not only are men starting to respect women less in western cultures, but women are starting to respect themselves less as well in many ways. They think it’s okay to be a slut, think it’s okay to be treated like shit from a man, etc. etc. I have just found the average Latina to be much more proud and secure of herself and classy than the average gringa.

    Oh well, i think that’s enough for now as I’m half asleep. Thanks for this post, I’ve known about your blog for a few weeks now, but after this post I’m a true fan. Very well written, and super introspective! Que tengas una buena noche!

  66. Diego December 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    You don’t like the attention? Just stay home and then don’t complain no man approaches you!

  67. Lindsay Rogers December 30, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Hi Flora, this is a really great article. You took the time (and have the writing capabilities!) to express exactly how I felt during a semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador. I had an incredible trip but at the end I was so upset by the fact that I knew I wouldn’t want to live (more long term) in Ecuador because of the machismo culture. It was something my family and friends back in the States couldn’t really relate to and it’s nice to know that my discomfort wasn’t an overreaction…

    I agree with you that the harassment general didn’t seem harmful to me but it always caused me to stiffen, avert my eyes, and quicken my pace. I flip-flopped from feeling angry to helpless and sad because I knew the best strategy was to ignore it. I noticed that when I got back to the States it took me a while to let down those barriers I had put up against men I didn’t know. It’s always good to be cautious, but I was overly introverted and removed around people I’d pass on the street or see at a party.

    It’s also hard for me to think about how my two young host sisters in Ecuador are growing up in this society right now and they are being taught to ignore at all costs. It’s disheartening.

  68. Mikhail January 7, 2016 at 2:39 am #

    Just some thoughts from a guy who grew up in Russia and lives in NYC now..
    Cultures are different and someone from one culture should not be imposing their views on other cultures – that is it. Do not judge and do not think your views are superior to others. There is no “absolute truth” or “the right way”. You were raised in one type of society and when you go to another country do not judge them and try to impose your views of what is right and wrong – their views should be respected and deserve and equal place in the world. The type of thinking when one thinks he is better or superior to others (along with his superior views and values) is one of the reasons many other countries do not like US. If you are for equality, then give other countries and cultures with their views an equal chance to exist in this world.

  69. Pv$$y rioter January 7, 2016 at 2:50 am #

    Let the feminist princesses unite and nuke all of those harrassing machos in all of those worthless third world countries! Heil to western feminists (the women equality movement) – one day they will rule the world and achieve matriarchy!

  70. Pungo March 6, 2016 at 8:59 am #

    you and your friends have nice legs, you should have been raped!

  71. Hilary Mckinney April 21, 2016 at 1:39 am #

    Your account about traveling in South America, perfectly explains the lewd whistles, shouts, catcalling, honking and being followed home on my way home from school everyday that I started having to endure at age 12 from the Latino men in Jerome, Idaho. You perfectly explained the physical reaction I feel to seeing a group of men to this day.

  72. nalisita May 25, 2016 at 11:54 pm #

    Hi, I really support your thoughts and let me tell you that totally understand them. I’m colombian I’ve lived all my life here and started to noticed the harrasment or ‘Piropos’ in the streets since I was 16 years old. Is incredible awkward at first but then you just get really used to It. Sometimes I try to avoid going out to certain places in shorts because I get a lot more of harassment. If one day I have to walk a lot, I prefer to not going out because I think about all of the things man would say to me while I’m walking.

    OMG I would give anything for just going out and not getting catcalled. I imagine the freedom you must feel.

    Great post!

  73. Smoking Fellow June 19, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

    I’m a man and found your article via google search. I want to tell you my perspective.

    I am living in Germany and I am very unhappy with the women here. We have no cat calling and as long as a single woman avoids dangerous areas she can go anywhere where she wants and do everything she wants. Serious as well as not so serious attention from guys is scarce.

    Now the women are still miserable. They have unlimited frustration and even lash out at men. I made a few terrible experiences.
    When I ask a stranger for a favor I do not discriminate; I will ask the first person in sight for help. A couple of times it happened that a girl/ young woman would be the closest person to me and I would casually ask for the time, for a map, for their cell phone or even once to check the brake light on my car.
    Keep in mind I am a trustworthy, relaxed guy and asked these women casually and with honesty, those were not attempts to get to know them; I really just needed their help.
    While most helped me some reactions were laughable. Some looked at me annoyed and then walked past, others made a scene and yelled about how they did not want to talk. Pretty pathetic, I never wanted to talk, I just needed support in these situations and they happened to be there. It would leave me standing there like an idiot and having my day ruined by these mental cases. And disturbingly they think this is good and normal.

    You women have forgotten that men built this world. You are good at getting good grades and following structured paths which gives you the impression the world is yours.
    But the world belongs to men and women; you gave birth to men and they built your world. Your washing machines, ovens, clinics, streets, buildings, healthcare, schools, jobs? Created mostly by men. Respect it.

    This might offend you but I believe overall a culture is better when the women are intimidated to some extend. You should not be allowed to take a shit into everyone’s life and still claim victimhood like some freaking loser who has no empathy for other human beings.
    Damn these evil and cowardly people who let it come so far in the west.

    Judging from your article the Latin American culture is not perfect as well I admit; the men seem to be addicted to women. But it is very freeing to express your sexuality and to depress someone elses needs is pure evil.

  74. Ivan June 30, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    Firstable I think you are an arrogant people that cannot accept there are differet cultures and differet way of living.
    Latin america of course is so much different from Europe and that doesn’t mean it is bad, this is the way it is.
    Is very strange for me for a traveller like you to be so close minded people.
    If you travel to any country you need to respect the culture and adap to it, the people on Latin america does not need to adap to you, you are the one traveling to the country not viceversa.

    I am latino and travel abroad a lot, I’ve been in Asia, Europe, South America, Center America, Middleeast and so on…
    and guess what I am not judging people cause they have a different culture I accept it as it is, when I was in Europe I was not complaining due the fact i cannot throw some ‘PIROPOS’ to some girls I was respecting their cuture and that why I didn’t do it.

    So don’t be so arrogant and accept it, the world has people with different way of thinking if you agree with them fine if not is not because they are bad they just think different from you, they were born and raise with different values and concepts that will be hard for you to understand and that doesn’t mean they do it to make you mad at them.

    Remember Europe and U.S.A. are not all what exist in this planet called earth.

    Warm Regards from Mexico.

  75. Stuart Bernath July 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    I completely sympathize w your qualms against catcalling. However, at one point you say that women don’t catcall and that is horribly wrong. I live in america and havebeen catchalled numerous times sometimes in very sexually degrading ways. One woman screamed out a car window to drop my shorts and bend over. This is fairly common if you are a modestly attractive 20 something in america to be sexually catcalled aND humiliated by women who shreak sexual provocations at you. I am sorry for your harassment experiences and women may not approach the horrible level of men, but they definitely catcall, sometimes in lurid ways.

    • Flora July 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

      Hi Stuart, I’m so sorry for the abuse you’ve received. With regards to my statement about women not catcalling, I wrote it because in 28 years I honestly can’t recall ever having seen a woman catcall a man, wherever I’ve been in the world. Perhaps I haven’t been primed to watch out for it, which is my own blinkered attitude – yet clearly it does happen and I should have added a caveat to what I said! Verbal degradation is always inappropriate and unpleasant, regardless of your gender.

  76. Jose August 2, 2016 at 7:59 am #

    Frankly, you’re not telling the truth. I was born and raised in Peru. And i can tell you that don’t figure out attitudes from some disrespectful guys as a part of everything. The fact a man/woman from a determined country stares at a woman/man from different country/background doesn’t mean she/he’d be rude. . It’s just curiosity. In my country, it usually happens. Here it’s quite possible to find out a man who does it. We just don’t learn to do it. Something that i can tell you is that we fight -little by little- vs inequality in our society that includes people, economy, security, health and transport.
    We latinos (most) love to threat our gf/wife in an affectionable and protective way. Our intentions are the best and we try our best to reach it out. Moreover, it doesn’t mean we’re not confident at all. There’s still a bad misconception about us.
    Just don’t take it for granted, something that sums it up.

    Espero te sirva. Saludos.

  77. Jose August 2, 2016 at 8:17 am #

    I had something forgotten. . don’t mind those comments which some latinos call you frustrated or a complained person. As a latino, i respect so much your opinion about us.

    • Flora August 8, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

      Hi Jose, thanks for saying you respect my opinion – much appreciated!

  78. ruthy82 August 4, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    Dear Flora, Thank you so much for writing about this as a solo female traveller. I’ve just had a bad day out there by myself and needed to read words I could relate to and your words really felt into the experience and the emotions and sensory feelings in our bodies when we are objectified. I seem to be more sensitive than ever to being objectified. I haven’t been to South America but I’m living in South-East Asia at the moment. And where I am is ‘meant to be’ open, non-judgmental etc and I find myself dressing conservatively to avoid stares and groups of creepy men that make my skin crawl as they whistle at me. Today I thought stuff it and wore shorts, it’s just too hot. And I was looked up and down all day, had a large group of men call after me and had a man call me a ‘slapper’ when I walked past a shop. Just an ordinary girl in shorts and a t-shirt, putting absolutely no sexual vibe out and trying to mind my own business. It makes me start to resent how I look, like not wanting to have long legs for them to be seen as objects to be sexualised etc…my thought is to shrink, to not feel safe in my body.

    I was also harassed and followed recently in Malaysia in the early evening all the way back to my accommodation in a long dress and covered up in a scarf. I’ve been travelling alone for 7 years now all over the world and it’s surprising me that at my age and in 2016 I don’t always feel safe to be in a woman’s body walking around by myself. And that makes me feel angry but it also provides with with a lot of empathy toward what it feels like to be judged by how your body looks. It feels like a battle but I’m determined to handle this kind of harassment in a way that I don’t shrink away from my body in shame. I’m so sick of feeling like the ‘victim’ of the creepy looks, judgement, objectification, cat calls, stalking. I want to feel the power and right that I have to walk the world in my own body and not be seen as an object. It feels dehumanising and I hope that women can start to talk about this
    more. Thank you x

    • ruthy82 August 4, 2016 at 8:47 am #

      I’ve since read most of the comments on here today because I really wanted the support. Truly, thank you for starting this discussion because it gets people talking about it, no matter what the opinions are. But I don’t feel that we can approach this issue in the mind, it’s not about culture, it’s not about right or wrong, it’s simply about the fact that each person in this world should have the right to feel safe in their body.That’s what I truly feel this is about x

      • Flora August 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

        Hi Ruth, thanks so much for all your comments on this post! As you might have seen, I’ve stopped replying to many of them for the most part as many commenters are now having their own discussions – but I think you’ve pretty much summed up the entire point I wanted to get across when I originally published this two years ago. Every person in the world deserves the right to feel safe within their own body. Thank you for phrasing it so succinctly!

        • ruthy82 August 14, 2016 at 9:09 am #

          Flora, I truly commend you for writing this article. You put yourself in a place of vulnerability because not everyone values feelings, or even vulnerability. So you opened yourself up to some of the invalidation on here.

          But in writing this, you also opened up a space for many women who have experienced this to voice their feelings too. And, from my perspective, I felt a safe space when I stumbled upon this, because it was a space where others were articulating how they felt. I’d just had an experience that hurt me and I was alone and honestly, after reading this, I got back out there because my faith was restored. And even more so, I have since come to realisations that have helped me to shift back into my body and my power. Too many to write about. Deep thanks to you and others on here, just for their authenticity and the unity that I felt from everyone sharing.

          The way I see it, the first step is authenticity and honest expression, then empathy, and then there is embodied action, what we stand for as human beings, what do we support or not support in our world. Just because something has become acceptable in a community, doesn’t mean it’s OK. Our communities only grow when there is authenticity and embodied responses. I was reminded of groups of women in my hometown who decided to run together en masse when a man started sexually harassing women in the area and from this, they created more solidarity and refused to be victims or forego their runs…they created a new community.

          Secondly, I am reminded of the amazing woman who started “#I’llridewithyou” in response to the Sydney terrorist attacks. She felt empathy towards a Muslim woman who she saw on the train and felt for those who may be harassed racially in the aftermath of the attacks. A huge movement of the average citizen who made arrangements to ride on trains with Muslims so that they would feel safe. Authenticity, empathy, action. This is how we change our world. You have, through your authenticity, taken a step towards a safer world, in my opinion. Each courageous action to speak our truth does this. It starts the ball rolling, it creates empathy. Respect to you.

          • Matt August 15, 2016 at 11:59 am #


            I’m glad you feel like this is a safe space, for you to talk about how you feel when you experience street harassment. And, I’m glad that it helped you feel better, and also that it empowered you.

            It also made me feel good to read what you wrote about people who had joined up to fight against that kind of treatment of others. No one should ever experience that type of harmful behavior, let alone feel that they’ve done something to deserve it. So, it’s heartening to see other people stand up in solidarity with them, and to let them know that they aren’t to blame.

            Truly, empathy can move mountains.

  79. Lhena August 6, 2016 at 12:26 am #

    Dear Flora
    Thank you for this writing.
    I have never been around there. And neither me wants to tar everyone over the same brush.

    But I shared house with different cultures. Last one of my housemates was a Latino guy. And yes they can be quite charming (though I would rather call it passive aggressive) and like many of the above adviced I tried to understand and respect their way of being.
    But in the end it all came to one thing: I lost my concept of personal space…totally… Completely.

    And the men you talked with will indeed probably not understand it. Cause how can you communicate properly to someone/to a woman if you do not see her as a human being with a personal space.

    So Can please someone explain them… And isn’t this mental rape?

    I have decided to go, basically I am gone already when I realised how in a sneaky way I lost that feeling of personal space.
    I discussed with my father and he met cultures all over the world. He calls them ‘sujet impossible’

    So thanks again for this article, you summed up my problem in a couple of words.

    ****loosing the concept if personal space***


  80. Matt August 7, 2016 at 9:19 am #


    Thanks for writing this piece, on this facet of your experiences of traveling across Latin America. It was interesting and eye-opening. As well, it helped me to better understand what women (both travelers, and locals) in that part of the world deal with.

    P.S. I’d originally written a longer post. But, since there were some difficulties with the formatting, I decided to break it up into two. This is the first. The second will be a reply to it.

    • Matt August 7, 2016 at 9:22 am #

      On a different note, I’m sorry you had to deal with that kind of entitled machismo crap during your time there, what with catcalls, stares, and the like. The way that the men who did that to you acted was wrong, unjustified, and harmful. There is no reason whatsoever for them to do that: it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, or how you’re walking, or what time it is, or who you’re with, or if you’re alone, or anything else – the kind of behavior you had to put up with is wrong.
      Furthermore, it sounds like putting up with that kind of street harassment was profoundly frustrating and painful. Truly, if I had had to deal with what you dealt with, I’d also probably have responded in the way that you did.
      Finally, none of what they did was your fault: it was theirs.
      Once again, thanks for sharing your experiences.

      • jim james August 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

        Absolutely disagree with you Matt. Actions have consequences .. what you wear is the first impression people get. If a person wears something not culturally appropriate then they will get stared at or commented on.

        Thats human nature . Thats their culture.

        So a man wears just a gstring to a high level business meeting ..or maybe he dyes his whole body green. Your saying nobody should stare or comment?

        Or does it only go one way ..gynocentrism.

        • Matt August 8, 2016 at 2:53 am #

          Jim James,

          It sounds like you’re saying that it’s ok to leer at a woman, or to catcall her, if she’s wearing less “modest” clothing, due to the heat and humidity. Is this what you meant to say?

          • jim james August 8, 2016 at 4:13 am #

            Leering? Thats looking , watching right. What ,do beams project out of mens eyes like xray vision?

            Or is it how a person ” feels” about another person watching them? Is that the standard … feelings?

            Catcalls. If im walking along and someone yells out or pesters me I ignore them . I may “feel” that this person may be dangerous .. if its broad daylight in a frequented public area then is it legitimate? Is fear.. that feeling .. the standard for action?

          • Matt August 8, 2016 at 4:29 am #

            You didn’t answer my question, so I will ask it again.

            Based on your earlier comment, it sounds like you’re saying that it’s ok to leer at a woman, or to catcall her, if she’s wearing less “modest” clothing, due to the heat and humidity. Is this what you meant to say? Yes, or no?

          • jim james August 8, 2016 at 5:17 am #

            I did. I questioned the concept of leering as being determined by a persons feelings about someone watching.

            Read my catcalls answer again.

          • Matt August 8, 2016 at 10:10 am #

            Actually, no, you didn’t: you didn’t say “yes” or “no,” in response to my question. You did give a response, in which you expressed skepticism over what “leering” is, as well as what you think you would do if you ever had to deal with catcalling. Furthermore, you were quite critical of using feelings as a basis of or standard for action.

            But, as the question was a “yes” or “no” type of question, you still haven’t answered it.

          • jim james August 8, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

            You want to get into a semantical argument about this.

            I will say again i do not accept the creation of the word “leering” as a valid action .. no more than if you said mind beams were being projected.

            And yes im a 100% against feelings being an action basis. For readon described.

            Scrolling up i see you your 2nd comment. Well i will end on this one.

          • Matt August 8, 2016 at 10:37 am #

            Actually, Jim James, forget my last comment: I’m done with this discussion. Have a nice day.

          • ruthy82 August 8, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

            I noticed that one of my posts had been commented on and so looked back at the article and noticed your response. I wanted to say thank you for your support, Matt. It gives me a lot of hope to see men empathise with the harassment that women experience based on how they appear. As to ‘feelings,’ women have to rely on them a lot when they travel due to situations like this occurring that can escalate if men follow us when we walk by ourselves (what a terrible thing, a woman walking around by herself so obviously asking to be sexually objectified and stalked!!). Often the feeling of ‘bad vibes’ is our intuition alerting us to danger, which you grow attuned to if you travel solo. But the real issue is of course the objectification which is dehumanising and never OK. Thanks for understanding, Matt. Empathy requires putting yourself in other people’s shoes and appreciating and responding to how they feel. Only when we do this can we create a society of equals.

          • Matt August 9, 2016 at 6:21 am #

            Ruth, thanks for the kind words about my comment. The street harassment that you (and many other women) deal with sounds quite frustrating, stressful, and depressing, not to mention harmful. Anyone who had to live with that would feel the same way you do, so I wanted to empathize. To me, that’s simply about doing the right thing.

            On a different note, I was reading some of your earlier comments, so I wanted to tell you something: it’s ok to feel the way you feel about this. Feelings are how people react to different situations, meaning that they are rational and reasonable. In other words, to feel is to be human.

            As well, being catcalled and leered at is not your fault. There is nothing you have ever said, done, or worn that has ever made you to blame for that, in any way, shape, or form. It’s people you see who engage in those kinds of behaviors every day who are to blame, not you.

        • Byroa August 30, 2016 at 5:08 am #

          But I was a green
          belt once it was awesome green is my favorite color….
          🙁 cries……. what is gyocentrism? Don’t judge me pls still little.

  81. Matt August 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks for writing this post. It was interesting and informative, plus it gave me a lot of insights into what women in Latin America deal with, in particular street harassment (in the many forms you described). The situation you described – dealing with people leering at you or catcalling you, regardless of what you were doing or wearing, or who you were with – sounded like it was profoundly frustrating to you: it was like you recognized it as being both unacceptable and strongly misogynistic (and even threatening, at times), but like you also felt powerless to stop it.

    Anyone in your situation there would’ve felt the same way.

  82. Matt August 9, 2016 at 5:29 am #

    I read some research that seemed relevant to this discussion, so I figured I would share it.

    Summary: Research out of the University of Connecticut shows that women who witness street harassment against other women tend to feel greater anger towards men, while also tending to feel more strongly about their gender identity. Furthermore, they also reported being more motivated to take action against men, as a group. In other words, street harassment hurts both women and men.

    So, what are your thoughts on this? And, how can you use what the researchers learned in this study?

    • ruthy82 August 15, 2016 at 5:24 am #

      Hi Matt,

      I just saw this and wanted to comment. I think that sometimes as a woman these days it’s hard to comprehend why men infrequently step in to protect us. Yes women are very independent these days, we are highly capable at anything we put our minds too. But we are usually physiologically smaller and we vulnerable to being raped. In my ideal world, when I am being harassed by men, it would be nice for a guy to step in an protect me, especially since I sometimes feel even more vulnerable as I’m being attacked. In fact, our bodies can often go into ‘freeze’ mode so it would be nice for someone to look out for us when we are physically less capable of responding when we feel intimidated.

      Why do we not protect each other when we are being attacked? It’s such a deep question that relates to the society that we are living in and I see it as relating to both fear and the way in which feelings have been distanced within collective culture. As some commenters have mentioned on here, feelings do not matter at all-unfortunately this is not just one man’s opinion. Our society has become desensitised to violence and, as such, is a breeding ground for it. As soon as how someone feels no longer matters, we can objectify them and this is how we have street harassment in the first place.

      Social change is not an overnight occurrence but it starts with honesty and it starts with opening to feelings and empathy toward the other. We all have bodies, can we imagine how it feels to be discriminated against for our bodies, even if we haven’t experienced this for ourselves? Some are more wired toward empathy, but ifwe start to build a world that is more attuned to it, it’s a new way of perceiving.

      I wrote a comment to Flora about movements of embodied action that I have seen and how I see a process of change of leading from opening authentically to the feelings of the experience and communicating it, then there is empathy and then we take action because we want to live in a world where at least the basic needs of safety of each person are reinforced. This is the point where someone, having seen or heard of how an experience feels for another, steps in when he/she sees the street harassment. Eventually a whole community backs what they want to see in their world. Until someone steps ‘out of character’ the others continue the harassment because this is their culture and no one challenges it. We build together the communities that we want to live in and how we treat each other by what we tolerate and what we challenge because it’s dehumanising.

      • Biggsy August 15, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

        Yes – us guys should step in more often. Sadly there are many occasions where it can be tough to tell whether it’s a stranger or the woman’s boyfriend if not paying full attention though. Have sadly heard of many incidents where male friends have stepped in only to be threatened back by both the man AND his girlfriend :s

        Also being a small build myself it makes me loathe to intervene unless 100% sure of the situation … or with friends

      • Matt August 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm #


        Reading what Flora wrote in her post, as well as what you and other women wrote in response, in particular how much street harassment bothers you, I couldn’t help but feel pained. Though I was sitting in front of a computer thousands of miles from you and other posters, I could feel the hurt you and others expressed, as a result of that.

        And, the more I’ve read about it since reading what Flora (and others) wrote, the more it’s bothered (and pained) me.

        (I’d write more here, only my browser’s doing funny things with replies to comments on this page. So, I’ll continue in my next reply.)

      • Matt August 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

        –Part 2–
        As well, from what I’ve realized, feelings are a very accurate reaction to something that happens. Given how strongly you and others feel about how bad this is, it’s clear that you want this behavior to stop, and also that you want allies to be there for you if it happens. In fact, Ruth, you explicitly said that you wanted men to protect you (and other women) if you were dealing with that kind of street harassment. And, though I am not aware of having experienced this before, I do feel your pain.

        So, if I notice it, I’ll say something. If someone I’m with engages in it, I will look them in the eye and tell them to stop. And, if I see someone experiencing it, I’ll be there for them.

        • ruthy82 August 15, 2016 at 3:02 pm #

          That’s really wonderful and heartening. I feel supported. Thank you : )

  83. Byroa August 30, 2016 at 5:20 am #

    Hi flora the explorer *dora theme song plays* um I am 8 and a taekwando semi master, I went to Peru solo cuz my grandad lives there and I noticed EVERYTHING YOU SAID IN YOUR ARTICLE btw my gifted teacher for lang arts said to right an essay about it so is it cool if i use some of your info i will give credit obviously. Anyway if I ever see the dudes do that can I tell them to get lost or would that be really rude and ruin my rep asap reply please *does baby eyes*

  84. Filipe September 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    You are a bit deluded i think. People in no way persecute other people like you think you were persecuted. I’ve learned this from observing some women in my family, and checked the validity of my theories in psychoanalysis and reading and, it is unfortunate but, we, human beings and, specially women, have our ego benefited from the paranoia of being chased and/or wanted.

    This, of course, reminding that judging of ‘foreigners’ occurs in any group. You take a rich ‘white’ family for instance, and their employee – let’s say a gardener – treats them equally with no hierarchical respect, except a respect for good character let’s say, and they will freak out too, probably in a much more psychotic and disrespectful way than these noble, beautifully brown people, directed to you only with glances of curiosity (not stares).

    So no, with 99% of chances, you weren’t persecuted in the way you thought. Perhaps a Blond Bombshell would’ve gathered some stares, or a really hot girl but, not you or the ugly blond of the two blond friends you had.


    • Matt September 5, 2016 at 3:25 am #

      Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you’ve read about psychology, and that you’re confident enough in what you know about it to make diagnoses of individuals.

      Yet, the situation that Flora described in her post is quite similar to what many other women who’ve replied here have written about. Not only that, but, if you do a web search on street harassment, you will find that numerous other women have had to deal with that, meaning that it appears to be both common and widespread.

      So, based on your own experiences and education, what are your thoughts on that?

  85. Telo October 5, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    Flora, I thought this was a wonderful and (unfortunately) accurate portrayal of what I experienced in the Caribbean and other parts of the world. After reading many of the comments, I can’t help but think that it would be unlikely to find a post concerning sexual harassment of men. No posts or blogs of roles reversed. I find it phenomenal that the harassment of women is a world-wide problem.

    I live in the US, and have traveled through the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. I have come across this issue in every country, and the Caribbean and Thailand tie for first place as the worst. South Korea, I would say, was by-far the most respectful. Any discrimination or harassment I encountered had little to do with the fact that I was a woman, and more to do because I am an American. Again, thank you for the insightful post, and I can’t wait to see where you go next.

  86. Faith October 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    I just had my own bitter taste of this, but here in the US. A guy who recently moved from Ecuador totally played me & felt no remorse or guilt for taking advantage of me. Even though he has a girlfriend in Ecuador, he loves cheating & manipulating women. He would stare at women too, just like you said, & made gross sounds. Everywhere we went, its like women were there for his entertainment. The machismo definitely went to his head & he needs a reality check lol. So i can definitely understand how you felt about being objectified! I was treated like a piece of meat & hated it. Glad no one hurt you, physically.

  87. Cristi Seomarius March 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    hmm, plenty of girls and women dress to impress, they do it ON PURPOSE and their own reward are these signs of “appreciations” fro the male audience

    while some other women, usually very ugly and insecure, take the same signs as abuse

    the main issue is that you lack confidence, and you’re miserable inside
    you project your fears and insecurities upon all others, and you hold everyone to your own standards

    you’re not adjusting to the world, you’re demanding the world to adjust to you, a typical westerner individualistic approach to the world

    while this sounds ok in theory, in practice everything goes apart
    some of you, western white women, are extremely insecure, borderline anxious, and highly mistrustful when it comes to men

    this may be related to your sheltered life, helicopter parents, constant demented news about violence, and even real violence that happens quite a lot in the west than everywhere in the world (drugs, gangs, weapons… you name it)

    all these environmental factors, together with the western Catholic influence, created a class of mid-upper white females that are quite afraid of men, afraid of strangers, unable to explore their femininity, in a word “feminists”

    while all other girls and young women love the men’s attention, love to attract, love to interact, not afraid to be touched, loved, held, and so on… you are highly triggered by this

    yet, men respond and react to THE OTHER WOMEN, not to you
    you’re the 0.1% aberration in the system, while you demand men to conform to your insecurities and give you “space”… other 99.9% women demand men to react to them

    they dress to impress, they openly flirt, they love attention, they want it, even provoking men to react

    in their culture you’re an aberration, and yes, you are highly sheltered from men, your view of the world is formed by the western mass media and news about violence and abuses, and you are afraid

    actually, no other class of people today is more anxious than mid-upper class millennial white women

    so again, maybe is you, not the rest of the world
    and yes, many other women and men will agree with you, as most of them were also raised in a helicopter sheltered way… and they are just as afraid of others like you are

    • M. March 24, 2017 at 3:44 am #

      As you may know, the internet is monitored, plus any comment you make, here or elsewhere, can come back to haunt you.

  88. cynthia March 20, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    Totally agree that machismo is oppressive especially to females of European decent.
    My personal experience was not pleasant to put it mildly. I think it is a cover for male
    inadequacies. e.g. Overt masculine behavior is a cover to counter their emotional
    fragility, insecurities. What first may appear as confidence, on closer inspection is
    insecurity. Well anyway seem to be true in my experience.
    Macho behavior comes across as acting/ not genuine and natural.
    Glad he is gone and now can focus on my life and making it better.
    Totally understand Faith in above post. Its not her fault rather the immaturity of him.

  89. S E March 31, 2017 at 12:37 am #

    Latin Americans can be outside Latin America and you can be dressed conservatively as I know and still be harassed. In reply to Francis Tapon , 7 Nov 2014. It is their mind set of entitlement/sexism which can be present in any culture unfortunately. Seems obvious in some cultures. In others its not so obvious but given the right circumstances can create problems.
    We all have choice and need to exercise it where possible. Unfortunately with travel your in another
    country. When in your own country and you come across it and you don’t like it, take measures to
    remove yourself. Just another individual that you do not like. You will not change another person
    rather they have to choose to change themselves.
    We all can behave in disrespectful ways towards another but it will be our loss if disrepectful as the human mind does register such behavior no matter how subtle and given time build resentment.
    The human mind does store all experiences. Yes and they often are remembered many years later.

  90. eyazykova9 April 10, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

    Wow, lol, really not sure why some guys on here are so angry! If you don’t know the woman, don’t freaking holler at her, it’s that simple. Not sure how you think making a woman feel weirded out ups your chances with her.

    Flora — this is actually why I will never again go to Middle East… the staring is just… *shivers*. I’m a big fan of Latin America, however, and even though catcalling doesn’t flatter me, I don’t feel as threatened as in some other places. I grade humanity on a curve lol. Latinos are very flirty, but I usually take in stride and simply avoid poorer areas where the men aren’t used to seeing white women.

    • Todd April 15, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

      I think there’s a lot being made here that’s totally overboard. It’s possible that if she feels harassed basically everywhere she goes, then it’s probably her. I’m not trying to be mean, but it’s not like she’s the most attractive woman in the world. So to pretend like everywhere, all the time, she gets harassed, I believe she’s “looking for it.” You see a lot of Volkswagen Beetles when you actually look for them.

      It’s certainly not an exclusively male thing either. When I was much younger… 16-18 we’ll say. I’d get lots of looks from girls, and plenty of comments as well. Of course I didn’t mind it, but I also got weird looks from older gay men too, and while it was a little gross, I didn’t let it get to me. So we’re clear, I’m 20 years older, and 30 pounds heavier, haha… so doesn’t happen anymore.

      Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is… it’s irresponsible to do this stuff in a place of business, or mistreat a woman simply BECAUSE she’s a woman (IE: hold back her ability to accomplish things). To say that South America is bigoted is totally ridiculous. Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama have ALL had female presidents.

      I’m not mad, but it’s clear to me that the one who wrote this blog seems to be looking for problems that aren’t really there.

      If she wants to see misogyny and female mistreatment, she should spend some time in Russia or the Middle East. (probably two countries that she sympathizes with politically, I’m sure).

      • S. E. April 19, 2017 at 1:06 am #

        Sorry but you are the one lacking in insight and how things are. I am speaking from
        my personal experience and what Flora has to say rings true in all aspects with
        my experience. Don’t put her down on her looks.
        Plus are you prepared to come up with reasons for many of the women that have
        commented here that “its all in their head” too. If you weren’t personally there and
        walked in her shoes as a female do not assume to know her experience.

  91. Adriana April 29, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    I both felt identified and annoyed by your post, I’ll tell you why: I’m Venezuelan and for a long time I considered myself as a feminist and looked up to Europe as an example of an equal society. I did feel annoyed by (unpolite) piropos, there I give you the right. On the other hand, being seen in the street when I was dressed up, listening to comments like “what is this beautiful lady doing here?” or even some addressed to my mother or my boyfriend, like “good bye, suegra!” or “where did you find such a beautiful girl? Take care of her!” was in fact a boost of self-esteem and mainly just an innocent and funny moment of interaction in the street. I never felt like it was some kind of control over me or my body, and this word “objectification” never crossed my mind, because I do exactly the same when I find a guy atractive. I don’t shout in the street, but I do enjoy the view… damn it, we all do.

    As other people mentioned in their comments, ‘Machismo’ is not as one-sided as you make it look in your post. In Latin America many women do want this attention and even use it for their benefit (for example, beautiful girls don’t do lines, often get themselves out of a fine, get served faster in a restaurant, find a rich husband to live from…). I mean, I come from the country of the “most beautiful women on Earth”, right? Being beautiful is really important and is imposed to you more by women than by men. Just to give you my personal example: growing up, my mom (not my dad, ever) used to tell me things like “you should wear something nice and make-up if you wanna call men’s attention”, “beautiful girls do better in life”, “if you go out with a guy, he has to pay everything, pick you up, bring you flowers…”, everyday I would get critics of all women in the family about my clothes (in their opinion, I was a hippie). Don’t get me wrong, she also encouraged me to study, to have good grades, to read… but it’s just to show you how women actively participate in the whole thing. After all, who raises men? And especially with the high rates of single mothers that we have in Latin America…

    The other thing that bothers me about this post is that it is so Europe-centered. As much as Europeans have travelled around the world and seen and even love other cultures, they’ll always see them as “exotic” and therefore, somehow wrong. Europeans go around the world labeling everything that is different to them. You call Latin American culture ‘machista”… so I ask you: what is the label for European culture? Standard? Normal? For a long time I saw things in myself -which I inherited from my culture- as “wrong”, for exampe, impunctuality. I thought we were wrong and we dindn’t respect the time of the others. But that is not true, it’s just a code. In Venezuela we say “meet you at 5pm” and we both automatically know that it really means 6, 7, even 8pm and that maybe we’ll end up meeting somewhere else and maybe more people will be included. We stay in touch all the time, asking how the other one is doing: “I’m showering”, “leaving my house”, “almost there”, so the other person doesn’t have to wait. Mostly, we end up arriving at the same time and even if someone has to wait for the other, he/she will always find some entertaining around. It’s not like the European one, it’s our cultural code. What you call ‘Machismo’ is a code too. I’m not saying it is right, I’m saying that’s the way it is and women are no victims.

    Now I would like to share some of my experience as a Latin American woman in Europe. I now live in Germany and the more time I spend here, the more I embrace Latin American culture. Everyday I ask myself if people are happy here… you walk in the street and the only way that a stranger will talk to you is to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. Of course, because they respect your “personal space” and pretend they don’t notice if you go out wearing something crazy or a mini dress or whatever… it does’t matter what you’re wearing, you are invisible. This privacy that Europeans so much appreciate is, in my opinion, the reason why so many people here are miserable, even though they have it all. People here lack human connection so much that, for my own surprise, I already miss piropos. So… I just tell you that every culture has its pros and cons, nothing is perfect, it’s a whole package. I like many features of the European culture and therefore live in Germany, but I have to accept the fact that people here are more introverted and that making friends takes some time. Just like me, you have to accept that the things that you like from our culture, like “the levels of confidence; the tactility between friends and people you’ve only just met; the passion and expressiveness; the constant desire to dance, laugh, and live purely in the moment” belong together with catcalls and piropos. So just enjoy the attention or stay in Europe, where I’m sure nobody will ever tell you that you even look nice.

    • Jonathan Wood Vincent August 30, 2017 at 12:03 am #

      Maybe someone should open catcalling schools for northern European men (ok, for anyone…even women) to learn to really catcall well; to learn to appreciate the various techniques, right? How can I say anything about it if I haven’t really tried to do it right? On the other hand, I’m so bored with women and men who want to be seen like a god or goddess..even if only for a little while…christ, I’m really into God. I’m no polytheist. What does the Pope think about catcalling? Does he like cats? I do. That would be cool to be at catcalling school with him. He seems all right. Anyway, going to catcalling school might spice up my vacation (and yours) and make this blondie into a real man. Maybe men could teach women how to do it too and everyone would be out there in the streets objectifying each other together. Someone could make a rom-com about it. Seriously…this would solve everything. Objectify me already!!

  92. freshcoffeestains May 9, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I lived in Colombia and experienced such overt machismo crap that it really made me hate that aspect of the country. I seriously don’t understand how some commenters have talked about how they like it when every Colombian woman I have spoken too hated it as well. Anyway, Thanks for speaking about the topic as a foreigner. I hope you don’t mind but I linked your blog on my own about machismo.

    Tam @

    • jim james May 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm #

      Whereas most other commenters replied with their arguments linked to a blog that :

      If we reversed the wordage to women not men , would be considered hate speech by many. Further I personally am skeptical of the accuracy of claims of offense .. not that assault isnt serious but the manner in which every action is described in sexual terms these days , has degraded the believability of those that have actually suffered.

      • freshcoffeestains May 9, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

        Thanks for your comment 🙂 You’re entitled to your opinion. I linked to her blog because I related to it.

    • Matt May 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your painful experiences with street harassment in Latin America. You were very brave for doing so. I believe you.

  93. P.H. June 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    I found this article both insensitive and misguided. I want to leave my thoughts here because I think this has the potential to be a really important teaching moment.

    Before I do, I just want to clarify that my comment isn’t made against women’s rights. I’m a man, so I don’t want to tell women what to advocate for or how to react to instances of sexism. As a Latino, though, I do and will get to call you out on your condescending/pretty racist tone.

    Let’s talk about the racism in this article. There’s a troubling paragraph somewhere towards the beginning where you say that you’ve been catcalled so frequently during your time in Latin America that you’ve come to assume that any Latino man you see is going to do the same, so you react accordingly when you walk by them. I may be paraphrasing poorly, but you get the gist. While you try to justify that by blaming “machismo” culture, this is just you racially profiling Latino men. This is the way that racial bias begins and is continued. You have to be careful about crossing the line.

    Additionally, there’s a historical/geographical/political problem with your article as well. Even though you spent a very long amount of time in Latin America, you are a tourist from Europe. While I don’t know you or your background nearly well enough to jump to conclusions about your particular status, it’s safe to say that people in England are, on average, more advantaged than people in Latin America. Latin America struggles with poverty, natural disaster, violent unrest and political turmoil. Knowing that, I don’t think you get to say that you’re the real victim here.

    Lest we forget, “screw the cultural rules” is an incredibly problematic attitude for a European tourist, especially given that “screw the cultural rules, this isn’t right” was the attitude of the European imperialists who colonized Latin America. Latin American culture is just as valid as any other on the planet.

    Your article tries to eliminate social inequality while worsening it in the process.

    • Matt June 23, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

      It is true that Latin America has gotten a raw deal, historically, and also that this is likely a major reason for many of that region’s present-day social problems (including corruption, the drug trade, and racism). And, in that sense, it’s not so different from other parts of the world (including Africa and Southeast Asia) that have also dealt with many of the same horrors and atrocities that Latin America has unfortunately been blighted with over the years.

      That being said, the writer was talking about some of her unpleasant experiences there, as well as her frustrations related to them, so she deserves to be heard and listened to – the importance of which you should be very well aware of. Too, she’s a woman, meaning that, like you, she’s a member of a group that has also been historically disadvantaged, and which is still dealing with the legacy of that. As such, like you, she deserves to be listened to and empathized with, without judgment.

      You want (and deserve) to be listened to, understood, and empathized with. So does she.

  94. JD June 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    I am a North American man living in a rural area of Honduras with my Honduran wife. Many (but certainly not all) of the men and young men are absolute pigs in the way they interact with women. We can’t even go for a walk without the stares and sometimes even comments – for this reason we don’t go for walks here because I don’t want to lose my temper and get into a fight. This form of “machismo” is very ugly here and is the root of a much deeper societal problems and a general lack of valor and morals. Obviously not all the men act this way – but there are so many that we encounter this behavior almost everywhere we go. The big cities are a little bit better, but probably just because it’s easier to assimilate with so many people walking around. Any women walking alone here, especially if dressed like the lady on the right in the photo above is at high risk of sexual assault – and don’t expect the police to always show up if you need them.

    • S E July 5, 2017 at 12:34 am #

      J D you mentioned much deeper societal problems. What is your take on these societal
      problems. I am thinking these problems maybe poverty, frustration at hopelessness that they live in, the way their community/country has socialized males. Thank you for your input.
      It is good to get validation of something which deeply affects women which seems to get
      denied big time by many males.

      • JD July 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

        Hi SE; thanks for the comments. I don’t think it’s due to poverty because poverty has always been here. Frustration and hopelessness could be factors. I believe however there are other major factors at work. The gross objectification of women through pornography and illicit lyrics in the spanish rap music “reggaeton” are major factors. It’s a very common experience to see men or boys gathered around a smart phone viewing hardcore pornography. They are addicted to it. I know folks will disagree with me, but I believe this is greatly affecting the way men relate to women. Because of this, for many men, a woman or girl is just another conquest, then it’s time to move on the next one.

  95. Third Line September 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

    It makes me glad that many women in Latin America want to escape the machismo culture and find good marriage-minded men from United States or the Westernized world.

  96. Stallion September 8, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Ask yourself this: what if every man just ignored you, and acted as if you didn’t exist? I know you’d have a problem also.
    Just smile, ignore, and keep it moving, because if every man you ran across started ignoring you, your feelings would be hurt.

    • Flora September 8, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      Oh, Stallion. You’re completely right. This entire article is solely about feeling sad when men ignore me. Also, kudos on how suitable your name is for your comment – well done!!

  97. Fabian October 10, 2017 at 4:49 am #

    Hey Flora,
    All of your observations are pretty accurate, I must say.
    Despite growing up and having lived in Peru for 19 years so far, I definitely get what you mean; that whole piropo business always has always seemed disgusting to me. I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and things were definitely different there.
    But I would also add that this machismo not only affects women but also a few of us men. As a male here you are expected to behave in that very same way and if you don’t you’re seen as ‘less manly’ or you simply get labeled as gay (a pretty ‘offensive’ thing in such a machist culture).
    As you’ve witnessed, it’s pretty hard not to lose your mind.

    Kind regards from Lima

  98. Isa November 12, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    My experience has been a bit different. I spent 5 months in Bolivia, and 1 in Peru, and while I have felt uncomfortable in Peru quite often (especially in Lima!), I’ve never felt that way in Bolivia.
    I walked around in the so-called ‘dangerous neighbourhoods’ of La Paz, worked there and talked to strangers all the time. I did get a lot of attention, and in the beginning it felt kind of weird to be approacted by so many strange guys. However, in virtually all cases, as soon as I let them know I wasn’t interested, they left me alone. I don’t remember a lot of cat-calling either. Guys just came up to talk to me. I’ve lived in Brussels for three years, and it was SOOOOO much worse. I got cat-called daily, and it got so bad, whenever I had to go out alone after dark, I kept my head down, preferably in a hoody. I was afraid to make eye contact with any guy. They wouldn’t just whistle or yell at me; they’d follow me and refuse to leave me alone. And this was in the “Capital” of Europe!
    I’ll take La Paz over Brussels any day!


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