Catcalling, an insulting remark or a comment of a sexual nature made by a man to a passing woman in public, is an uncomfortable experience. Women are often subjected to lewd comments, harassment, and misbehavior from the men they encounter on the streets all across the world.
Recently, Noa Jansma, a 20-year-old Amsterdam-based student, who was clearly fed up of being harassed and catcalled on the streets, decided to make a powerful statement about sexual objectification by documenting the uncultured behavior still prevalent in Europe, a place considered to be highly civilized.
Jansma explained in her first post how doing this empowers her: “By making the selfie, both the objectifier and the object are assembled in one composition. Myself, as the object standing in front of the catcallers represents the reversed power which is caused by this project.”
The fact that these men were totally willing to pose for selfies shows just how appropriate they believe their behavior is.
Jansma started the @dearcatcallers Instagram account after she participated in a class discussion about sexual harassment. She told Buzzfeed:
“I realized that half of the class, the women, knew what I was talking about and lived it on a daily basis. 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.”
So, she took 24 photos of the moment she was catcalled by one or several men for a month and posted them to Instagram.
Her Instagram page has now started a debate on this issue and many women are sharing their own experiences. Many have congratulated her for taking such a bold step to throw light on how common the street harassment is.
Jansma is now inviting other women to do the same thing, but only if they feel safe enough. She wants men — and everyone else — to understand that this is still very much a problem today.
“This project also allowed me to handle catcalling: They come in my privacy, I come in theirs. But it’s also to show the outside world that this is happening so often.”
From January 1, 2018, catcalling will be punishable by law in Netherlands, and violators will be subject to fines of up to 190 euros ($220). Hope other countries follow the suit.