Everyone reacts differently to being catcalled. While some are horrified and demand an apology, others prefer to ignore it and keep walking. But one woman adopted a unique approach to the men who objectify her: She decided to take a selfie with each of them.
Meet Noa Jansma. After being filmed and harassed on a train by two men, the 20-year-old student from Amsterdam embarked on the month-long project to document each incident of harassment.
But rather than sneakily taking a snapshot with each harasser, Jansma actually asked each of the guys to pose with her, and they all seemed quite willing to do so, apparently unaware of what they did to earn the invitation.
Unsurprisingly, the project has been garnering quite a bit of attention on Instagram. In just four weeks and 30 posts, her Dear Catcallers account has clocked up over 50.2K followers and received hundreds of messages of support about the powerful message it’s sending.
“#dearcatcallers, it’s not a compliment,” she wrote in the first post on the feed. “This Instagram has the aim to create awareness about the objectification of women in daily life. Since many people still don’t know how often and in whatever context ‘catcalling’ happens, I’ll be showing my catcallers within the period of one month.”
She continued, “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 ratio, which is caused by this project.”
Jansma had wanted to do something to raise awareness about catcalling for a while, and after being harassed by two men on her train, she decided it was time to take action.
Over the course of the project, only one man wanted to know why she wanted to take a selfie.
Each image has a similar composition, with Jansma straight-faced and serious and the men smiling and laughing, oblivious to how they have made her feel.
The uncomfortable nature of the pictures reflects how women feel when they are catcalled by strange men on the street.
Having now finished her project, Jansma is keen for her powerful message about harassment to continue.
“My month of posts has ended, but that doesn’t mean that catcallers are in the past as well,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.
She will be passing on the account @dearcatcallers to other women, “to show that it’s a global phenomenon.”
Speaking about the support she received during the course of the project, she says: “It has made clear that catcalling is a common occurrence that many of us are dealing with.”
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