Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Janna, 25 years old and I’m training to be a breath, speech and voice teacher and therapist.
I am one of the 5 members the Catcalls of Bochum team consists of.
When did you start your account? We did our first chalking in Bochum in October 2020.
Why do you think "chalking back" is a good method to raise awareness? On the streets people find themselves confronted with the statements as well as acts sometimes that others have experienced in that exact same place. We think it is good if they get bothered by the chalking and start feeling uncomfortable because that's exactly what people experience during catcalling. When the catcalls are out and visible on the street everyone has to face this problem, not just the ones who have experienced the harassment.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important? It's super important because it also means eliminating power asymmetries. All people should be able to be carefree and move without concern on the streets, not just those who are socially privileged.
What's your favourite thing about your city? There are lots of things I like about Bochum and the Ruhr area in general. According to stereotypes, the people of Bochum are very direct, but mostly in a warm way. The Ruhr area is very mixed due to the large amount of industrial culture and the associated recruitment of workers. There are also many universities in Bochum so many students come here and keep the city young. I think Bochum has many facets.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account? We hope that more and more people show solidarity with the people who experience street harassment. That everyone becomes more attentive and that Bochum eventually, no longer provides any space for catcallers. At the same time, we hope that we can raise awareness among young people and emphasise that catcalls are not something you should build your self-confidence on but is indeed harassment against which one should defend oneself.
What's the most difficult street harassment situation you've experienced? I was on vacation by the sea. In the early morning I wanted to swim alone. When I arrived there was only one man sitting in the dunes. But he followed me to the beach and lay unnecessarily close to me. I was unsure about going into the water because I would have to leave my things and my cell phone lying around. I didn't want his presence to stop me though, so I went swimming. But I always kept an eye on him and my things. When I got out of the water, he came up to me and spoke to me in French, which I didn't understand. He was now only wearing a T-shirt and out of the corner of my eye I could see his semi-rigid penis. I tried not to let him notice my insecurity and luckily he let go of me. I very quickly put on my clothes and left.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you? I do notice how it helps me personally to deal with the topic to a greater extent. It's nice to see the solidarity of the community and it empowers me. This is the feeling that drives me. I want to share this feeling with others, who experienced catcalling, too.