Street harassment isn’t harmless flirting. It’s a serious problem that needs more attention.
A study published by Stop Street Harassment found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. Among them, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.
The most common form of street harassment is catcalling. In
the majority of cases, a woman is walking down a public street when a man makes
an unprovoked sexually suggestive comment to her. These can range from a whistle
to a disgusting depiction of a sexual act.
Catcallers believe that they’re simply being flirtatious and think the women they’re harassing should take their comments as a compliment. But in reality, catcalling is a dehumanizing form of bullying. It makes women feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, and preyed upon.
An unwanted interaction that begins as a catcall could lead to insults, threats of violence, and stalking.
Back in 2017, 20-year old Noa Jansma from Eindhoven,
Netherlands called attention to the problem of street harassment by creating an
Instagram feed where she posted photos of street harassers.
Over the period of one month, she took a selfie with most of the men who catcalled her in public. Unfortunately, there were a few that she didn’t get a photo with because she thought it’d put her into a dangerous position.
When she discussed the project with her classmates she noticed a huge gender gap in the perception of street harassment.
“I realized that half of the class, the women, knew what I was talking about and lived it on a daily basis,” the design student, told Buzzfeed. “And the other half, the men, didn’t even think that this is still happening. They were really surprised and curious. Some of them even did not believe me.”
She described the project in detail on its Instagram page.
This Instagram has the aim to create awareness about the objectification of women in daily life.
Since many people still don’t know how often and in whatever context ‘catcalling’ happens, I’ll be showing my catcallers within the period of one month.
By making the selfie, both the objectifier and the object are assembled in composition. Myself, as the object, standing in front of the catcallers represents the reversed power ratio which is caused by the project.
The photographs are chilling because most of the men are smiling and acting proud while Jansma stands there stone-faced. “They’re not at all suspicious because they find what they do completely normal.”
Over the course of the project, only one man asked why she wanted to take a selfie.
Here are some of the most powerful photos from Dear Catcallers.
Photo Credit: Dear Catcallers, YouTube.