A 20-year-old art student in the Netherlands, Noa Jansma, began the Instagram profile “dearcatcallers” to showcase the street harassment she and many other women endure, while also calling attention to the danger of catcalling.
For one month Jansma documented a series of photographs which included her taking a photo with her catcaller. The caption for each photo always read what they had said to her. Some had asked if she wanted a ride, others had asked her where she was going by herself. Others just whistled as she walked by.
Her first photograph explained the project: “This Instagram has the aim to create awareness of the objectification of women in daily life,” the post read.
“By making the selfie, both the objectifier and the object are assembled into one composition. Myself, as the object, standing in front of the catcallers represents the reversed power ratio which is caused by this project.”
The account has over 300,000 followers to date and each photo welcomed comments from women who had experienced similar cases of harassment.
Jansma spoke with Buzzfeed and explained her project further. She explained that the class was talking about catcalling. “I realized that half of the class, the women, knew what I was talking about and lived it on a daily basis. And the other half, the men, didn’t even think that this is still happening. They were really surprised and curious. Some of them even did not believe me.”
So her project began.
“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. But most of the time they have their thumbs up, they’re happy because they honestly think that they’re complimenting me. They really didn’t care about me. They never realized that I was unhappy,” she told Buzzfeed.
She didn’t take pictures with all of her catcallers, valuing her safety at night over anything else.
While her project has encouraged women to share their experiences, Jansma admits that the profile has also welcomed comments from those calling her a liar or claiming that she’s seeking attention.
Jansma said her project has helped her to deal with catcalling and show the world that it happens more often than you think. Her final photograph was of text that announced she would be passing the project on to another woman who was encouraged to document her experiences as well.