Youth try to harass women on a street in Cairo April 8, 2013. Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW) has proposed a new law against sexual harassment containing a minimum sentence of one-year imprisonment for first-time offenders, local media reported. Picture taken April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXYEPA

If you’re a female, chances are you’ve been harassed and cat-called numerous times before. Some of the verbal abuse is usually along the lines of “you’re beautiful” or “hey sexy!” Theoretically speaking, these are compliments. What’s the difference between harassment and compliments? Here’s the truth; many compliments are in fact considered harassment. If you’re not sure why women perceive them as such, the following are some things you might need to consider:

It scares them

You might be a harmless human being, but they don’t know that. Women have suffered from harassment and, in some cases, even got raped. They don’t know how far this will go and you freak them out. They feel unsafe and might even start panicking.

It lowers their confidence and self-esteem 

Even though compliments are supposed to make people feel more confident, it makes women feel cheap if they’re out of context. Women feel like they’re on public display for men to look at and rate.

If it’s out of place, it’s harassment

Unless you’re already having a conversation and the compliment is well in place, then it’s okay. If you start the compliment as a pickup line, it’s harassment.

It’s not only verbal abuse

Some men think checking a girl out is complimenting. It’s not. It’s creepy and uncomfortable. I understand it could be done unintentionally, but once you realize you’re doing it, stop immediately.

Know when to stop

If the woman shows discomfort, stop the harassment. If she starts walking or or even running away from you, stop the harassment. Don’t go back “apologizing,” just walk away too and stop scaring her.

No woman seeks compliments, or harassment

Yes, women do like compliments, but only from the people they care about. I guarantee you there’s not a single woman who feels good or validated by a random catcall in the street.

Would you be comfortable it happened to a female family member?

Think of this woman as your mother, sister, wife or even daughter. If someone addressed her that way, would you be okay with it? Now, don’t come out screaming my women won’t be in this situation and give this as a lame excuse. Despite the situation, is it okay? If not, then don’t do it to other women.


It’s about time women feel safe in public, and it won’t happen with men not doing something about it. Start with yourself. Change yourself and change the men around you. You could make a huge difference, and might even save a life.