If you’re a young woman, you’ve probably experienced catcalling in your life…unless you’re completely agoraphobic. This young woman, 20-year-old Noa Jansma from Amsterdam, has decided to flip the gaze on her catcallers by taking selfies with them.
Jansma created the Instagram account @dearcatcallers to spread awareness of the kind of harassment many women face on a daily basis. “This Instagram has the aim to create awareness about the objectification of women in daily life,” Jansma wrote.
Jansma decided to create this project after she took part in a class discussion about sexual harassment. “I realized that half the class, the women, knew what I was talking about and lived it on a daily basis,” Jansma told Buzzfeed. “And the other half, the men, didn’t even think this is still happening. They were really surprised and curious. Some of them even did not believe me.”
So, over a period of a month Jansma took selfies with all the men who catcalled her. In the photo’s caption, Jansma wrote what they said to her. In this case, the catcallers said, “Mmm beautiful sweet girl.”
“By making the selfies, 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 wrote.
Jansma expressed she was a little unsure about how the men would react to their picture being taken. “ I thought men would be suspicious of me, that they would understand my motives when I was taking selfies with them. So I was kind of fearful,” Jansma told Buzzfeed.
But, all in all, most of the men documented in this project were pretty oblivious to Jansma’s motivations. “But most of the time they have their thumbs up, they’re happy because they honestly think that they’re complimenting me. They really don’t care about me. They never realized that I was unhappy,” Jansma said.
A few of Jansma’s pictures went beyond just obnoxious men calling out to her to something borderline terrifying. This old pervert was following Jansma slowly for two streets. She wrote in the caption that he was shouting “sexy” and asking if she wants to get in his car.
This creep even got a little handsy with Jansma. This made some people question if she was taking it too far. Should she have allowed the subjects of her projects to lay their hands on her? Jansma did say she had her limitations.
Jansma did not take pictures with all the men who catcalled her over the month-long period. “Of course, my safety is more important than this project,” Jansma said. “I didn’t take photos when I was catcalled in the dark, in little streets.”
This creepy guy said, “I know what I would do with you, baby.” Why do men feel like they have a right to make women feel uncomfortable out in public? Many people agreed with this sentiment that Jansma was trying to convey in her project.
While many people agreed with Jansma, and agreed that catcalling is a real issue, others went on a feminazi rampage, claiming that Jansma was hyper-sensitive and couldn’t handle a compliment. For example, in this photo, this guy used the very typical, “Hey beautiful, why are you so sad,” approach. He then told her she should smile at him. While many people understand that this is just another way to harass women into some sort of response, others got on Jansma’s case for attacking this “nice” guy.
While Jansma is done with her project, she wants more women to participate in it. “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,” Jansma wrote. You can still tag your own catcalling photos with #dearcatcallers.