Amsterdam student fights catcalling through selfies with harassers
A commonly overlooked form of sexism in daily life is catcalling - sexual comments made by men at passing women. The phenomenon is so ingrained and accepted that women are often asked to accept it: "he's just passing comments, not actually touching you." Now a 20-year-old student in Amsterdam has taken on the problem in a unique style: by clicking selfies with her harassers.
Noa Jansma, a student, started on the project a month ago. She had considered it earlier too, but an incident on a train finally made her begin, she says. For one month, she asked her harassers for selfies, not on the sly. All but one man agreed gladly. She has made 23 posts on the Instagram account named 'Dear Catcallers' since August 29.
Noa's photos are disturbing: in all, she is seen impassive, while most men, some alone and others in groups, look cheerful, oblivious to her distress. One even thanked her and is seen blowing her a kiss. Her tale gets more horrific when she reveals there were more men: many left before she could take a photo, while she didn't feel safe asking others.
Noa insists her aim wasn't to shame the men; if asked, she would remove their photos. "It's like a mirror: they're coming into my privacy on the street in front of everyone, so I'm coming into theirs." Now she will hand over the account "to another girl in another country" to show it can happen to anyone. However, it will "take some time".
A recent Australian study revealed the deep effects of catcalling: 81 women, aged average 22, were surveyed about their sexual harassment experiences. The most surprising finding was that those who were targeted or witnessed others being harassed reported a "substantial increase" in "self-objectification".