Noun – a loud, sexually suggestive call or comment directed at someone publicly (as on the street).
Verb – make a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.
Ask any woman as to whether or not she has been catcalled at any point of her life and the answer will be “yes” nine times out of ten. Whether it is meant to be complimentary, objectifying or merely for the sake of hearing one’s own voice, a catcall is not warmly received as a term of endearment.
Noa Jansma, a 20-year old student in the Netherlands, created @dearcatcallers after engaging in a class discussion about the sexual harassment women face (often on a daily basis). Noa found that many of the men in the class didn’t realize this was happening and some of them went as far as to claim it was not taking place. @dearcatcallers came to fruition as a medium for bringing awareness to this ongoing issue.
Noa took selfies with the men who catcalled her and put their catcall as the caption when applicable during the month long photo project. She found that most of the men were oblivious to the harassment and actually felt as though their actions were complimentary of her. Some of the men thanked her for bringing awareness to their actions as they didn’t realize the ramifications while others didn’t care about her at all.
The project picked up steam via Instagram while bringing in over 349,000 followers and opened up a dialog that hadn’t been there before. Noa’s account equipped women with a new platform to engage in and discuss the harassment in an ongoing effort to bring awareness to the issue. The number of comments were often well into the thousands.
“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.”
Being catcalled can be very frightening as a woman especially when being alone at night; any comfort of safety ceases to exist. Most catcallers will follow the object of their current attention until they feel as though they are heard without realizing how menacing and harassing it comes across.
With the personal project having come to a close, Noa is opening up her account on a global scale and inviting women from all over the world to participate in the project. @dearcatcallers will continue to bring awareness to this issue throughout the coming months and hopefully educate the masses on the difference between what is complimentary and what is plain unequivocal harassment.