A young American woman is shining a spotlight on street harassment with her project, Catcalls of NYC.
21-year-old Sophie Sandberg asks her Instagram followers to send in messages about their experiences being sexually harassed on the street, detailing the exact location it took place and what was said.
Sandberg then goes to the spot in question, writes the catcall on the street in bright chalk, takes a picture and posts it on Instagram.
- “Jesus Christ, nice tits. I wish I could suck on ‘em.”
- “Smile, honey. Smile over here. Just smile for me! Too good? B****.”
- “I’m gonna f*** the s*** out of you someday.”
Sandberg hopes that seeing the remarks written down will help hammer home her message.
“By writing the comments on the sidewalk where they happened, I raise public awareness about the issue,” Sandberg told HuffPost.
“The colourful chalk and colourful words catch people’s eyes. They force those who wouldn’t normally experience catcalling to take a second look.”
Although sexual harassment on the street is incredibly common, not everyone has experienced it or realises the severity of the problem.
But Sandberg’s project is helping combat this.
“No one questioned or challenged it. It was simply an accepted annoyance,”she said.
“For me, it has always been more than an annoyance. It’s shaped my experience in public space. It’s affected my confidence and comfort walking down the street. It’s silenced me ― I’ve never felt comfortable responding to catcalls, as much as I’d like to tell these men off.”
Sandberg also hopes the project will encourage people to speak up when they see someone being catcalled.
She’s not the first to use Instagram to highlight the extent of street harassment - earlier this year, 20-year-old Dutch woman Noa Jansma made waves with her project Dear Catcallers, which saw her taking selfies with her street harassers.
With every project raising awareness, it’s hoped we can finally bring an end to women being harassed on the street while simply going about their daily lives.
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