Being young and female is a curse in some ways. Walking by yourself down the street you’re bound to be followed by lewd comments and loudly announced sexual innuendo, the center of male attention like some public trophy.
Unwanted sexual attention is off-putting at least and threatening at worst. No woman relishes catcalling. Women have drawn attention to this unacceptable behavior that is obviously great fun for men, but no fun for women.
Viral videos have created an awareness about the issue but it hasn’t dampened the public pestering of women by men who have responded by saying that catcalling is a “compliment” or the fault of women because of their appearance.
The harassment takes the form of loud whistling, yelling, leering, making kissing noises all accompanied by inappropriate remarks or questions. And there is simply no right way to respond. If you ignore it, your obvious rejection might incense the pest and if you try to tell him off the situation might also escalate.
Besides, these bloody creeps are often cowards who band together in packs like street dogs. It’s a bit much to expect a lone woman to defend herself in such circumstances.
So what do you do?
Well, you can take a leaf from Noa Jansma’s book, or her Instagram account. Jansma is a 20-year old student from Amsterdam. Disgusted by constantly being catcalled, she has spent the whole of September taking selfies with the men who catcalled her and documented the experience on Instagram her account dearcatcallers. See some of the photos below.
It’s a disturbing visual account of her month on the streets of Amsterdam. The men are all smiling happily on the photos with Jansma appearing in the foreground, clearly annoyed and unhappy. The men are oblivious. In the entire month, only one asked her why she wanted to take a selfie.
Disturbingly, her selfie project that comprise 24 pictures doesn’t even reflect all the encounters she had with strange men and their unwanted attention because in some instances she felt too unsafe to ask for one. If that’s not harassment, then I don’t know what is.
Jansma told Het Parool that the fact that none of the men refused to take a selfie with her indicates that they don’t feel they are doing anything wrong. They think it is normal behavior.
Her project is meant to bring the prevalence of public harassment of women to the attention of a wider audience. She has no intention of continuing the project as it brings her no pleasure, but she plans to keep the Instagram account going for other women around the world to post on. I can just imagine what that is going to look like!
In just one month her account has amassed more than 45,000 followers.
From January 1st, 2018, catcalling will be punishable by law in Jansma’s native Netherlands, and violators will be subject to fines of up to 190 euros ($220). If her daring project continues to go viral, perhaps more nations will follow suit.
See the rest here.