Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Lisanne, I’m 22 years old, living in Hannover, Germany. I’m studying education at the Leibniz Universität (majoring in English, minoring in History) so I’m hopefully gonna be a high-school teacher in the future. I LOVE English and American literature, it’s my favorite thing about my studies. I love travelling, I write stories of my own and I’m a big Harry Potter nerd. Other than intersectional feminism, I’m all about environmentalism, try my best to keep my carbon footprint small and go to Fridays for Future regularly.
When did you start your account?
27th June 2019, so pretty recently.
Why were you inspired to start your account?
I loved @catcallsofnyc from the moment I learned about the project. But at first, I thought that this never really happened to me which is why I didn’t really feel a connection. One night, I was biking home from work and a group of guys started catcalling me. In that moment, I kinda felt a click in my head. I remembered my first catcall, I was 11 and walking around in the city with my mum, when a car with 4 guys drove by. They were shouting: “Hey Mama, pretty daughter”. My Mom ignored it and started walking faster. I remembered all the whistles and all the stuff that just faded into my unconscious because I’d rather forget about it and it was so NORMAL to me. I felt like chalking back is something I can do to end the normalization of street harassment in this society.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to rise awareness?
With catcalling, there is not a lot we can do. Guys tend to be in groups when doing it, so even when you’d have the courage to turn a around call them out for it, you would endanger yourself. And even if they’re alone they’re usually bigger and stronger than yourself. Also, if you call the police, they take their time getting to you while you have to stick around, close to the harasser. If he doesn’t run/walk away before the police shows up, what are they gonna do? It’s your word against theirs and if they don’t believe us with rape, they gonna laugh at us for catcalls and street harassment. The only thing you really can do is get out of the situation, roll your eyes and be angry about the inequality that we still have to suffer in 2019. Chalking back gives womxn a voice and it points out that catcalling and street harassment is a bigger problem than everyone is thinking. It happens everywhere everyday and the chalk can be a big warning sign for everyone who comes across it. My little hope is that some guys read it, think about street harassment and don’t do it the next time.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
Because moving free and feeling safe in the public space should be normal for everyone and not a privilege mainly reserved for men. German Basic Law (something like the Constitution in the US) states in its first article that “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” I think the dignity of anyone is violated when being harassed.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
There is so much cultural diversity, openness and positiveness throughout the city. During the summer, the lagers parks are full of beautiful people celebrating life by sharing food, a beer, or a cigarette. Everyone can find their community and safe spaces here.
How can your city better address street harassment?
It’d be nice If they’d address it at all. At the moment, there isn’t even a discussion about catcalling although it happens everywhere. A start of a discussion would be wonderful.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
I hope that people see the quotes and start thinking about the issue. That womxn and other victims of street harassment don’t feel like it’s something they simply have to accept anymore. And I hope it starts the end of normalization of harassment.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
I was at a farmer’s market with my parents when I was about 13 years old. My parents were talking to friends and I was standing a little bit away from them, watching the different people selling their stuff, when two teenage boys (about 17ish) walked past me. One of them pretended to grab between my legs. I cringed in fear jumping away from them and they were just laughing. I was too ashamed to tell my parents and just hold my mum’s hand they whole time till we were home.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
I love that fact that I’m just a small part of something really big. The community of all the Catcallsof... accounts is just a beautiful and supportive movement that hopefully achieves the end of street harassment.