Media Information Literacy Toolkit
Welcome to our Interactive MIL Toolkit! This is an interactive space for young activists in the Chalk Back network and those who want to join to think critically about how to use MIL to improve and expand their work.
Chalk Back is a network of more than 150 activists around the world using social media and public chalk art to raise awareness and combat street harassment. We solicit reports of harassment on our Instagram accounts, write the messages on the streets with chalk, and post them to Instagram. We use social media to empower people to speak up about what’s happened to them and create space for dialogue and denormalize the issue.
Our MIL Toolkit includes instructions on how to “Chalk Back” effectively, different ways to create awareness campaigns on social media, tips on confronting online harassment, and guides to practicing self-care when using media.
We believe that activism and education should be fun. We love using creative methods to share stories, build community, and change the culture of gender-based violence. This Toolkit provides mentorship and guidance on how to use social media responsibly and participate in activism in a sustainable way. See below for tips and tricks on how to create content and fight discrimination responsibly.
ETHICAL MEDIA USE
Media and information literacy (MIL) is a “composite set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies, and practices that allow one to effectively access, analyze, critically evaluate, interpret, use, create and disseminate information and media products with the use of existing means and tools on a creative, legal and ethical basis.” (UNESCO)
Using social media can be an excellent way to spread information, share stories, and promote social change. However, social media needs to be used responsibly and ethically in order to be effective.
Take our MIL for Activists quiz to see how you’re doing so far.
How to Chalk Back
1. Sign up on chalkback.org. The website is a place where we keep track of all of the accounts that are active (if you’re receiving this you’ve done this already-- good job!) But, if you see new accounts pop in your area/country tell them to also register and tell us (instagram @chalkbackorg) about it.
2. Say “inspired by @catcallsofnyc” and/or “member of @chalkbackorg” in your bio. You can also use www.chalkback.org as your website. @catcallsofnyc was started in March 2016 and inspired all of the other @catcallsof accounts. The movement has grown far beyond New York and has developed into a global movement due to all the amazing activists involved. But it’s still nice to credit the original idea. By linking the @chalkbackorg account, people will know it’s a movement and not just you.
3. When in doubt, ask. We are all part of a movement. If you’re planning something new, check in with others first. Collaboration is key to building solidarity within Chalk Back.
4. You are not allowed to advertise any products or political parties on your page. Since we want to become/are and official 501 ©(3) non-profit organisation, we have to oblige certain rules. Of course you can share posts from other pages, share stories of articles you’re featured in, raise awareness for issues other than street harassment in your story, or cooperate with other non-profit pages/organisations from your area. If a political party invites you to speak with them about your mission, you are also free to do that. BUT you can not advertise certain products on your @catcallsof account, share only certain political parties or anything like that. You also have to ignore anyone trying to make you an influencer for them. If you have any questions about that, please don’t hesitate to ask us.
4. If possible, keep your feed predominantly chalk. The thing that seperates Chalk Back from other movements is that it is a consistent mission of sharing stories of sexual harassment with chalk art.
5. Create consistent graphics. If you’re unable to chalk where you live, you can create graphics to mimic the chalk art and tell the story. Like @catcallsoflahore, @catcallsofbsas, @catcallsofcairo, and many more :)
6. We focus on street harassment. Therefore, try to only chalk experiences that happened in the public space. You don’t need to be super strict about that, sometimes we do special month (for example May for workplace experiences or September for harassment in schools) BUT we do not chalk r*pe experiences or sexual assault stories. These are definitely too triggering for survivors and on the sidewalk you can’t warn them properly. Again, if you have questions about that or wanna discuss a certain story, please reach out to us.
7. Include everybody. Chalk Back is intersectional which means we chalk submissions of harassment from everybody (cis-women, cis-men, trans- and non-binary folks, members of the LGBTQIA+ Community of every race).Street harassment can happen to everyone, although some groups are more effected than others. It can also happen because of all sorts of things: gender, queerness, race etc. We want to highlight that with our accounts.
8. Credit other artists. If you occasionally post other people’s artwork, credit them.
9. Build a team. These accounts are hard to run at the hands of one person. Whether it’s recruiting volunteers or building a small team of dedicated chalkers, it’s important to find ways to get more people involved.
10. Build solidarity. You’re part of a global movement. Connect with the other activists in the Chalk Back movement. Take the time to repost other @catcallsof accounts chalk and posts. Together we are extremely powerful!
11. Take Care of Yourself and Know Your Limits.
We are always there to help.
Mental Health and Media
Consuming media can take a toll on mental health. If you use social media for activism and fighting discrimination, it can be especially taxing.
Compilation of Mental Health Instagram accounts and links
Other positive ways to help your mental health while participating in activism on social media:
- Plan a call with fellow activists to vent
- Give yourself time limits, or specific times to work on your account
- Talk about difficult topics, or things that affect you with your friends and family
- Build up a team to switch tasks around, so if things get overwhelming, you can create some balance
What is a catcall?
Basically everything sexist, insulting, queerphobic, racist, … shouted after and at you in the streets. This also includes wolf whistling, being followed, not accepting a “no” and encompasses a host of other behaviours. It is a form of gender-based violence.
Why do you do this?
On the one hand, we want to claim back the space of the harassment for the victim and give them a voice.
On the other hand we want to show those passing our chalk art that catcalling happens everywhere and engage them in a discussion about it.
Catcalling is still too normal in our society and we want to change that, together with you.
If you want us to chalk your experience, just slide into our DMS and tell us what happened. Experiencing harassment is independent of gender identity. Everybody can write to us and we’re there for everyone.
You can tell us as little or as much as you like.
It’s just important for us to know where the incident happened and, if there is no direct quote, tell us what you’d like us to chalk.
Please understand that we need some time to chalk back your experience. We have a lot of submissions and run these accounts on a volunteer basis.
We talk with you about what happened and we are there for you! However, we are not mental health professionals or counsellors and some things just overtake our competence. But we can advise of local help or organisations who can help you better than we can.
Constructive criticism and discussion in the comments are desirable, different opinions are welcome.
For a valuable discourse, it is essential, to be respectful towards each other and not start to insult and belittle each other or the victim or deprive the victim of their experience. What is okay or not bad for you can be completely unacceptable and encroaching for others.
Therefore: behaving disrespectfully, any kind of insult or threat as well as depriving the victim of their experience and pain/trauma/grief will be deleted by us, if it’s repeated and the user is intransigent they will be blocked. Deleting these comments is protecting the victim.
“I don’t think this is so bad”
Like we said: What is okay for you, is completely unacceptable and encroaching for others. If a catcall wouldn’t be bad for you and even be appealing: cool that your feeling that way, but respect that it is not that ways for everybody.
Do not deprive the victim of their individual experience. You are not that person. It doesn’t get you anything to comment something like that, it’s just bad for the victim because they will feel like they’re not taken seriously. We don’t have space for that.
“I’m lacking context here”
Swipe to the right, there you will find what the person wrote about the incident. Sometimes that's a lot of context, sometimes not. That decision lies with the person who experienced this and we should all respect that.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” “Why didn’t you fight back?”
Everybody deals differently when it comes to harassment. We advice the victims to file police reports for insults or assaults etc. but that is ultimately up to the victim.
Please try not to ask questions like this. This way you’re telling the victim that the harassment was their fault.
Instead, we should ask ourselves why our society and especially the offenders still think it’s okay to say such harassing, insulting, sexist, or racist comments about other people on the street.
We should not ask ourselves why the victim is reacting one way or another but why she has to endure the situation in the first place and what we all can do to change that.
We are part of it. It is important to reflect on ourselves and our environment critically and - especially in our comments - exchange experiences and have this important conversation together.
Together and not against each other.
Dealing with hate comments
Unfortunately, when running any Instagram account you have to deal with unpleasant comments. This becomes especially true when you’re managing an activist account dealing with harassment, sexism, and social justice.
When someone leaves comments underneath your posts which are hateful and insulting, your best option is to delete them and restrict their access to your profile so that you can view their comments before they’re published and prevent the publication. That option is the first one when you are on someone’s profile and click on the three dots in the top right corner.
When someone’s comments tell you between lines that they don’t understand the concept or issue, that they’re not seeing the point or the problem of that particular post refer them to your rules and FAQ which you can save as a story highlight to be accessible for everyone.
If they still want to discuss or don’t understand, ask them to write you a DM, that way, you can explain your cause while keeping potentially harming comments away from the public and the eyes of the victim.
Try to be as polite as possible. Even if people try to be hateful, it will be harder if your answers are still nice. Also, other people are more likely to support you if your answers seem calm and polite. Also, give the haters the benefit of the doubt, they might have never experienced these forms of harassment and therefore lack understanding. Your account is partly to make people aware of the problem and these comments can actually help.
And last, you can always restrict and block people if they keep being hateful, misunderstand you on purpose or insult you, the victims, or others. Set yourself a time limit to deal with the comment section in order to keep your mental health intact. Activism is fun and these comments shouldn’t stand in the way of that.
Recipe for Social Media Campaigns
Creating a social media campaign is a great way to address a problem and have your voice heard. Here are a few steps you can take to start your own campaign, based on our experience.
- Identify your issue
- Research it, find organisations working in that space already and see how you can support them
- Look what other people are doing, see if there are prominent hashtags that you can utilise
- Create a concept that fits within your page but also with the issue that you are working on
- Create posts and stories for yourself and repost posts from others about the issue
- Reach out to people who are also raising awareness about the issue to work together, repost each other, go on lives together etc.