Men who harass women with cat calls and sexual comments are actually harming their whole gender, a study has found.
The research, by Stephenie Chaudoir and Diane Quinn of the University of Connecticut in the United States, looked into the feelings and reactions of women who saw and heard men making derogatory remarks to other women.
The researchers asked 114 undergraduate female students to watch a video and imagine themselves as bystanders to a situation where a man made either a sexist remark at another woman or simply greeted her.
The students were then asked to rate their levels of anxiety and depression as well as their anger and fear toward men and their desire to move against or away from men.
The study showed that in addition to feeling upset, women were more likely to take the sexist remark as an insult to their gender, and feel greater anger and motivation to take direct action toward men in general.
"Women are obviously implicated because they suffer direct negative consequences as targets of prejudice and, as the current work demonstrates, indirect consequences as bystanders," the researchers said in the study.
"But sexism also harms men as well. Whenever a single man's prejudiced actions are attributed to his gender identity, male perpetrators impact how women view and react to men generally."
The study was published in the Journal of Sex Roles.