Welcome to CATCALLED, a collection of women’s stories about street harassment in New York City. For two weeks this August, eleven women in the city kept a log of their harassment experiences, and how the presence (or absence) of catcallers affected their actions. Their experiences may surprise you—they certainly surprised each other, and at times, even the participants themselves.
Street harassment is a tricky issue. Its interpretation is almost entirely subjective, and the experience of it can range from violated and frustrated to annoyed. Harassment itself is hard to define, as well. What’s the difference between harassment, a catcall, flirtation, and a compliment? At the same time, it’s difficult to argue that sexual harassment is anything but an unfair burden placed on women in urban spaces, and one that can be incessant and invasive.
Part of the story of this project has been discovering that most women have found a way to deal with harassment on a regular basis. Even if an individual woman may feel that the status quo is acceptable, she is usually able to point to precautions she takes to feel safe as a woman. Even if an individual woman feels flattered by catcalling, she can probably point to a situation in which she felt extremely vulnerable due to catcalling—probably as a young teenager. We believe that all women, in some way or another, have to grapple with objectification and safety in public spaces, whether that space is Central Park or Times Square.
CATCALLED is an attempt to give that struggle a voice. Over on the right you can see 11 different badges, one for each of our 11 participants. The women who wrote for this project live in four different boroughs and have a range of sexualities, ethnic backgrounds, and life experiences. There is no one place to start reading, no one person to focus on. Each participant has an introduction from me, giving you a sense of what you might get out of reading those entries; each woman has additionally highlighted her own entries, to reflect what she has found most valuable. After the project was over, all 11 participants responded to someone else’s logs for their exit interview, beginning a conversation about different experiences that we hope you continue. You can add to the dialogue by clicking respond. In addition to publishing questions, comments, and ideas on our blog, we will also be featuring readers’ daily logs—a single-day entry about street harassment. And of course, if you would like to contact us more directly, you can find out how to do that here.
We hope you get something out of this—men and women, in the city and out of it. We have learned a lot from beginning this dialogue, and we can’t wait to see how you respond.
Rad. Check this out.