"Hey honey, can I get your number?"

"How are you doing today, sexy?"

"Can I take you home?"

"You should smile more!"

Catcalling. Playful and harmless? Or rude and sinister? It's widely debated about where the line is drawn, but one thing is for certain: Women don't find it charming. At all.

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Some years ago, a series of videos exposing the vulgarity and prevalence of catcalling in New York City went viral. It sparked a nationwide conversation about women facing constant harassment from men, making them feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe, even in completely benign, everyday environments.

Here's one of the videos. Fair warning - it's a difficult watch.

Of course, this is a problem that happens everywhere. Surely this sort of behavior should be illegal, right?

Is catcalling illegal in New Jersey?

There is no law that specifically prohibits "catcalling" in New Jersey. However, when it teeters into the territory of street harassment, there are absolutely penalties.

There are several forms of street harassment that are illegal in New Jersey, including:

Disorderly Conduct

Title 2C, Chap. 33 §2 - "It is considered disorderly conduct in New Jersey for anyone to purposefully “offend the sensibilities of the hearer” by addressing “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive language” at a specific person in a public place."


Title 2C, Chap. 33 §4 - "If a street harasser uses sexually explicit language, follows you, threatens you, touches you in an offensive way, blocks your path or tries to keep you from leaving a space, you can report him/her."

Both of these offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

So can somebody get arrested for whistling or trying to "holla" at you in public? If the situation is that simple and it's a one-time occurrence, the answer is most likely no. Annoying as the behavior is is. In New Jersey, the offender would have to take things further for it to be a criminal matter.

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