Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Jonna, 20 years old. Born and raised in Finland, but an excessive traveller. I’m the founder of @catcallsoffinland. I have moved a lot in my life inside Finland, and I actually just moved again, to Helsinki. I have always hated patriarchy, sexism and inequality, ever since I learned about these issues.
When did you start your account?
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I was browsing my explore feed on Instagram and ended up to @catcallsofnyc. As I was sampling through the account more, I realised what a great way of raising awareness chalking things people have said on public streets is. I had just few weeks earlier heard a story from my close friend of a harassment that she had experienced in a public transportation, and it made me so angry that no one around her did nothing of the situation where she was clearly uncomfortable, and that situations like that happen in the first place.
So after browsing the page for a while, I started to check out which other cities have this account, and noticed that Finland doesn't have one at all. Since Finland is a quite small country, I then, right at the spot, decided to make an account for the whole country and looked up online where can I get sidewalk chalks, went and bought them and chalked my first one.
Why do you think ending harassment is important?
Every type of harassment should end - street, online, school, public transportation, workplace… But especially the new generation of children who start using in the internet are extremely vulnerable for experiencing harassment online because they are so innocent.
During my rather short time of having this account rolling, I have been surprised by how young the victims of street harassment are. Most of them have reported to have been 13-14 years old at the time of the harassment. People that young are in their early teenage years and their image of themselves and the world is just forming and it is really harmful for their development to hear such sexualization from people. And in the internet, the victims today can be even younger than teenagers. So, for the sake the of mental health of new generations, online harassment and other kinds of harassments must stop.
How can the online community better address harassment?
Sharing, sharing, sharing. Sharing our posts on your account/your story and sharing your experiences to the chalkers to raise awareness and sharing about the movement to your close ones/your school/your workplace/your community and if you want, by joining the movement.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
To make people acknowledge this problem that also occurs in Finland. And hopefully as it gains attention on the public, one would do something about it in a governmental level, like criminalize street harassment. Ending it. Making people feel safe walking down the streets, no matter what they're wearing or what time of the day it is. I also hope, even if the outcome doesn’t reach governmental level, that people feel safe to share their stories to us and get the feeling of relief from telling their experience to someone who’ll do something about it.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
Most of my harassment experiences that I remember have been slightly less repulsive or scary than the more gross ones that I have heard from others. I've heard things such as "nice ass", "what a pair of blowjob lips you got" and things like that on the streets.
However, I have been raped twice in my life by people I have trusted. I have been offered money for sleeping with my stepdad by him. I have been mentally abused by people. I have been seen as nothing else but an sexual object. I have been called a slut and a whore for enjoying sex. But I am not a victim. I am a survivor.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
It means a lot. It plays a big role in my life. Before starting the account I was just angry on the world about these things happening around us and no one doing anything about it. At the time, I was trying to find my way of doing something good in this world. Then, as I realized I could start raising awareness of this issue in Finland by making a co-account, I just knew that this is what I want and need to do. So, every time I get a story and one says this is the first time they're telling someone about their experience, it gives me the chills for doing something meaningful and making it possible for these people's stories to be heard out safe and anonymously but still making a difference.