“¡Los piropos me alegran todo el día/tarde/noche!”

We’ve heard about street harassment in Cairo and Brussels; now let’s hear about street harassment in Lima, via the Stop Street Harassment blog.

When I arrived in Lima, Peru, as an American exchange student about two months ago, I thought I knew about street harassment. I had read about it, I had experienced a few catcalls here and there, and I had even had an egg thrown at me out the window of a moving car. But it had never been as constant as what women here experience every day. During my first of many ten-minute walks to school, I experienced endless “piropos” –  honking, whistles, and of course the infamous kissing noises that Limeña women are forced to endure each time they walk down the street alone (and sometimes otherwise).

But apparently Kotex Perú can’t tell the difference between street harassment and a nice compliment. Through the Facebook page of “Paremos el Acoso Callejero,” a Lima-based organization for fighting street harassment, I came into contact with the following Kotex Peru ad with the caption “¡Los piropos me alegran todo el día/tarde/noche!” (Catcalls cheer me up all morning/afternoon/night!)

Here’s that Facebook page.

Ad Translation:

“Kotex Test: If you are walking down the street and you are cat-called, you:

  1. Laugh at the situation and keep walking
  2. Stop and give a look that could kill to whoever is catcalling you
  3. Take your lipstick out of your purse, put it on, and blow him a kiss”

Clearly, the sentiment of this ad is that “piropos,” or catcalls, are a compliment, and something to be appreciated. Listen, Kotex. This is not flirting. This is street harrassment.

A “piropo” isn’t It’s not about the fact that this man thinks I’m pretty. He’s not trying to brighten my day. He’s not trying to pay me a compliment. The smirks and laughter that often accompany these expressions make it clear that they’re meant to make women uncomfortable for the harrasser’s own entertainment.

The sentiment of this ad is even more than that. Choice # 2 is clearly meant for the prudish sex-negative humorless feminazis who just don’t know how to take a compliment.

The disconnect is bizarre. We’re supposed to see combinations of clothed men and naked women as “human sexuality” and we’re supposed to see barrages of jeering sexual harassment as something cheer-upping and flattering. Oy.


  1. iknklast says

    I endured much of that when I was younger; now I have young men yelling at me out of the windows of their car if I’m walking alone – they tell me to get home, or go back to my husband. When I was sexually harassed at work, I was told I should be flattered. WTF?

  2. says

    Somehow this blindness to sexism doesn’t seem strange to me. If you’re collecting samples from the whole world, here’s one from Argentina. A young woman decided to start a campaign against “piropos”; she did this by collecting “piropos” she or other women had been subject to and making posters of the worst ones, adding “If reading this makes you uncomfortable, imagine what it’s like to hear it”. She created a Facebook page for this project (Acción Respeto), with moderate success. Now after this was covered by several major newspapers and a lot of people were talking about “piropos”, up comes the Major of freakin’ Buenos Aires and casually tells a reporter that “Women actually do like piropos, even if they’re told they have such a nice ass” (sic). Some outrage ensues, and the following day the very same major tells the media that he retracted what he’d said because he’d been chastised by his daughter, even though he was merely speaking “out of gallantry” (!).

  3. Brian E says

    even though he was merely speaking “out of gallantry” (!).

    Es todo un cabellero ese. (He’s all gentleman that one)….

  4. Al Dente says

    So the Mayor of Buenos Aires has no problem with piropos. Somehow I doubt he’s ever been on the receiving end and there’s even a good possibility he’s been on the giving end.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    Yeah, you should watch some Hispanic comedy shows (or maybe you shouldn’t). They are basically at the level we were at during the heyday of Vaudeville and Burlesque. There is always a bevy of hot chicas dressed as scantily as the censors will allow, and then there is always exactly one “fea” (ugly girl), usually extremely overweight, or else much older than the chicas. If there is a live audience, they are expected to cat-call the chicas, while the orchestra will make appropriate rude sounds for the fea’s soundtrack. The guys can be pretty much any body type and it makes no difference, all the women vie for male attention, but of course when the fea does it, the guy reacts in horror.

  6. says

    These male cat-callers would throw an absolute hissy-fit if some effeminate gay man, or any man, played the same shit on them.

    Hmmm…a very effeminate gay man played that shit on me at Baclaron market in Manila, cat-calling and teasing and professing love. I blew a limp-wrist kiss and made everyone laugh.

    Piropos is not quite so amusing, I wouldn’t think. Not so amusing at at all.

    It sounds like a horrible, deflating daily grind, actually.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *