Author (and photo credit): Sophie Sandberg
At age 15, I became aware of daily street harassment in NYC. “Hello Beautiful,” “Hey Sexy” and “Mmm Baby” accompanied my morning commute to my summer job. At first, I thought there must be something wrong with me, something that was provoking this behavior. I soon came to realize that this behavior was actually “normal.” I spent years feeling frustrated: as angry as I was, I never felt comfortable responding to catcalls. I was always silenced by the comments. At age 19, I found my way of responding. I started Catcalls of NYC– an Instagram account that raises awareness about street harassment in NYC. I write catcalls on the sidewalk in chalk, in the spot where they happened. My goal is to give people a place to share their story of harassment, use it to raise pubic awareness and ultimately denormalize catcalling.
These predatory comments are often made by older men towards younger girls. There is no confusion here. These men know they are talking to teenagers and pre-teens.
Much like President Trump’s “Grab ’em by the pussy” scandal, cat-callers often talk about our “pussies” as if they’re public property. It needs to stop.
“A guy was standing next to his bike and when I walked by he said ‘can I suck your pussy?’ I ignored him and speedily walked away. He apparently then got on his bike and few seconds later after I crossed Broadway I soon had him riding next to me on his bike aggressively asking again and again ‘can I suck your pussy?’ I crossed the street and thought I finally got rid of him but soon saw him riding by me again, this time not saying anything. I moved closer to a group of people walking in front of me and made it to my dorm.”
“I don’t live in New York, but i went there last summer with my parents. It was really hot and i was wearing a casual sundress with thin straps. At one point I was walking alone back to the hotel, when a couple of middle-aged construction workers yelled at me, that i should lift up my dress, ‘show them that pussy’ and flash a little more cleavage. So many more things like that happened while i was there. Men looked me up and down, whistled at me and shouted. I was 15.”
“We were going out to meet our friends. It was late at night and we walked past some guys on the street who were clearly staring at us. As soon as we passed them they started whooping and one of them said ‘Lemme finger fuck that pussy.’ We couldn’t believe they actually said that. It was shocking and terrifying.”
Photo Credit: Sophie Sandberg – Catcalls of NYC”I was on my way to the gym in broad daylight minding my own business. I pass some guy on the street and as soon as he’s close enough for me to hear him, he whispers ‘damn tight pussy.’ I felt so extremely violated.”
More about Sophie Sandberg and her Catcalls of NYC can be found here: www.catcallsofnyc.com