Catcalling is neither cute nor a compliment. This seems a strange conceptual hurdle for many men to leap. Those who actually listen to the women being affected by catcalling—who tell them that rather than a positive it is threatening and a form of harassment—might sometimes come around. There are those who won’t, of course. A patriarchal society instils a sort of ingrained entitlement in the ruling group, and men will often get defensive and even aggressive when told to cut that shit out. It’s similar to racists in a white supremacist culture being told that certain words are no longer acceptable. They flare their nostrils and protest, quaking with a subconscious fear that the power balance may be shifting, that total domination in their favour might be coming to an end.
Noa Jansma is a twenty-year-old student from Amsterdam. During the course of this August she ran an Instragram account called ‘dearcatcallers’. She used it to post one selfie a day with a man who had catcalled her.
Explaining the project, Noa said:
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.
[…] both the objectification 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.
So, men, this is what it looks like to be on the receiving end:
NB. There were times when Noa did not feel physically safe enough to actually take a selfie.