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DearCatCallers Project asks women to battle everyday sexism with a selfie

Dear Catcallers Project

Women safety is an issue that persists all across the world. Whether they are online, on the street, at work or even at home, women are subjected to lewd comments, harassment, and misbehaviour from the men they encounter in their lives. 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 normalized that women are often asked to accept it. How many times are we told, “he’s just passing comments, not actually touching you.” And how we should just ignore it because it does not deserve our attention? So the DearCatCallers Project aims to take this on, head on.

Does it really not deserve any attention?

Noa Jansma, 20, a student from the Netherlands is making a powerful statement about sexual objectification by turning the tables. Her project is an eyeopener as to how catcalling deserves all our attention. She took selfies with her cat-callers for a month and posted them on her Instagram account “dearcatcaller”. She wrote in her inaugural post: #dearcatcallers, it’s not a compliment. This Instagram has the aim to create awareness about the objectification of women in daily life. Passing lewd comments is not flattering, says Noa. By taking a selfie, Jansma points out, the objectifier and the object are assembled in one composition. The woman, as the object, standing in front of the catcallers represents the reversed power ratio. She talks about how the men were excited to pose rather than being wary of why she took a selfie. “They’re not at all suspicious because they find what they do completely normal,” she told Dutch newspaper Het Parool, which the Independent then translated. She mentioned that she knew that what she was doing was risky but nevertheless was happy because it bore fruit as from January 1st, 2018, catcalling will be punishable by law in Jansma’s native Netherlands, and violators will be subjected to fines of up to 190 euros.

#dearcatcallers, it’s not a compliment. This Instagram has the aim to create awareness about the objectification of women in daily life

At the end of the month, Jansma asked women around the world to share their experience with catcallers. “My month of posts has ended, but it doesn’t mean that catcallers are in the past as well,” Jansma writes. “To show that it’s a global phenomenon and that this art-project is not only about me, I’ll pass on the account to different girls around the world. This will be a process and it will take time, so please stay tuned.”

This project was unique and achieved what she had intended to. The very declaration of a law and how she took the internet by storm is a testimony to her success. But is clicking a selfie the real solution?

Considering the country, she belonged to, clicking a selfie was not seen with suspicion but will it be received likewise everywhere?

Simran Chathrath, 20, pursuing psychology from Amity university points out that how this project of clicking the selfie has proven to be revolutionary but suspects as to how well it will work. “The pictures of the girl give out a cold vibe about the bleak situation of women’s safety in the world. The project as much as it drives me to take up the task of clicking selfie, it leaves me with a second thought in mind considering how risky it can turn out to be. With a regular inflow of news of the coldblooded murder of kids by their own parents and more, I would prefer other means of protest. The girl herself mentions as to how she would pass it on to a responsible woman to take over the project. This is an exceptional case but not definitely the solution for the problem”, says Simran.

it leaves me with a second thought in mind considering how risky it can turn out to be

If a problem like catcalling could be solved with a selfie, I’m sure that 50% of the problems would have reduced by now and this is where the reality hits as to how big the problem is. Though this project has drawn attention and created awareness in the world, which is commendable, it necessarily might not be able to demolish this evil act. What we need are concrete solutions that can actually put a full stop to this issue.  Simran Khosla, 19, student from Lady Shri Ram college for women expresses her adulation towards this project. She says, “This project is a wakeup call for all of us. The courage of the girl deserves accolades. The project is risky in nature but that should not stop us from fighting the devils of the society”. She views this project as not something that everyone must follow but definitely draw inspiration from and do something against such wrongdoings in the society that affects the everyday life of women.

This project is a wakeup call for all of us. The courage of the girl deserves accolades

Catcalling and other forms of abuse deserve everyone’s attention and this project has attracted eyeballs all across the world. It’s up to every individual as to how they want to battle such problems. The way we fight the battle is important but what is even more important is that we need to step down to fight the battle. The law also testifies the fact that governments serve the people and also sends a reminder message to the rest of the governments to take actions on the prevalent problems. There is a solution to every problem, let’s all try solving it in our own way to bring about a change.

Reshma is an intern with SheThePeople