Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Livvy, I’m 18, and I’m a student at the University of Oxford. I study modern languages, and I love to do art in my free time. As an intersectional feminist, I care deeply about speaking up for what I believe in and I really want to help make a change.
When did you start this account?
I started this account in October 2020.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
Quickly after arriving in Oxford, I realised just how much street harassment there is here, despite it being considered such a safe city. After seeing this, and experiencing it first hand, I felt compelled to make an account, rather than inspired to do so. I had followed Cat Calls of NYC for a couple of years before starting my own account, and I felt that joining the campaign would be the perfect way for me to combat street harassment and gender based violence.
Why do you think ‘chalking back’ is a good method to raise awareness? Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
Personally, I think the effect that ‘chalking back’ has is so powerful. Oxford is a beautiful city, and therefore to see such vulgar and inappropriate catcalls written on the ground is really striking; they stand out so vividly against the picturesque streets and buildings. Seeing the words written down mirrors that feeling of being catcalled, it is uncomfortable, it’s derogatory, and it has no place in society. I think our method of raising awareness is so powerful because although it is shocking, it is unavoidable, and shows directly how it affects us.
To me, it is so important to stop street harassment because it is so normalised in our society. If people think that catcalling is okay, what will they do next? If no one is telling them it is wrong, what else do they think is right? We need to intervene, break the chain, and raise awareness that street harassment is more common than it’s thought to be, and enough is enough. I’m sick of being told ‘it’s a compliment’ or I’m ‘being dramatic’. It needs to end.
What’s your favourite thing about your city?
There are so many things I love about Oxford. It is so pretty, and my favourite thing is that golden light that coats the buildings before the sun starts to set. It’s also such a friendly place, and in general, I feel really safe there. It’s just the case of street harassment and catcalling that tarnishes this perfect image.
How can your city better address street harassment?
In general, Oxford feels very safe, but I think there needs to be more measures put in place to prevent it from happening. From classes in schools to workshops in Universities, I think there needs to be more education about street harassment, teaching people what is not acceptable (like shouting at women from car windows), and how to get involved to stop it and protect women and girls.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
I hope that people begin to realise that street harassment is an issue to be taken seriously, and not something that women and girls should have to ignore. People sometimes retaliate to this form of activism with comments like: ‘aren’t there more important things to fight against?’, and whilst there are many issues we could be raising awareness about, this is no less crucial than the rest.
I also want to be able to provide a safe space to people who have been affected by public sexual harassment and be a listening ear for anyone who wants to share their stories.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
This is a really difficult question, and I really struggle knowing what to write. Being catcalled is not only degrading, but really infuriating, because I feel so helpless. Two boys once yelled something about my legs at me as they raced past on a scooter. There was no time for me to retaliate – and in reality, it’s too frightening to do so anyway, in fear of what they might do next – so instead I just stood in shock. In reality, street harassment is so common, and it happens in so many forms – catcalling, whistling, groping, following… and none of it has a place in our society. Hearing other people’s stories just fuels my passion to raise awareness about it, and hopefully get it to stop once and for all.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
Being a part of this campaign has allowed me to become part of such a wonderful community of people who all have the same goal in mind. It’s so important to me that we can all support each other, lift each other up, and together, do all we can to raise awareness about, and stop, street harassment