Tell us about yourself.
I'm Malvina, I'm 21 and my pronouns are she/her. I'm originally from a small town in Liguria, but I moved to Turin to study languages. I'm a libra, I love tea, dance, tv series and learning about feminism, especially when it gets uncomfortable.
When did you start your account?
Giulia and I started the Catcalls of Turin account in September 2018. We've been best friends since our first year at university, and she always been more active in politics and social issues than me, so when I asked her if she wanted to create a Chalk Back page with me she immediately said yes!
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I was inspired to start the account because I had been following @catcallsofnyc for some time and admired her work, but I always lacked the confidence and courage to join the movement. I then grew up and met the right people (like Giulia) that showed me I didn't have to do big, heroic gestures in order to try and change the world; even just some chalk and strong ideals are more than enough.
Why do you think "chalking back" is a good method of ending street harassment?
There's a Latin proverb that says "verba volant, scripta manent", which means that spoken words fly, but written words stay. To me, it sums up how chalking back is a good way to raise awareness: people think they can verbally abuse and harass other people and won't be held accountable for it because "it's just words", but by chalking, taking pictures of and posting online those words we give them enough permanence to be the object of a new kind of attention and scrutiny.
Why is ending street harassment important?
Realistically, I don't think I'll see the end of street harassment in my lifetime. What I expect to see is a shift in the mentality and societal norms that rule our lives.
Nevertheless, I think trying to end street harassment is important because it's just one of the many symptoms of rape culture, and by addressing it we can give more space and credibility to oppressed people and build a network of awareness and solidarity around those most affected by it.
What's your favorite part of your city?
What I like most about Turin is its history, it's full of monuments and buildings, and living here is a never-ending discovery of legends, facts, personalities, influences; even now, living in Turin means being at the centre of the social and political life of our country.
How can your city better address street harassment?
I think the administration of our city could give more space to actual problems that affect the citizens, like street harassment, with awareness campaigns and events, without fearing the inevitable backlash that comes with speaking up on controversial issues. The phenomenon of street harassment is underestimated everywhere in Italy, but there are many feminist organizations and movements working to solve the problem that could benefit from public attention.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
I hope our account is able to ultimately achieve two things: create a safe space for those who experience street harassment to talk, express themselves and help each other; and build a network of information and resources for users to learn from and be more aware of the mechanism of oppression in our society.
What is the most difficult street harassment situation you've experienced?
I was catcalled on my birthday while I was out with my friends to celebrate. We had just recently moved to Turin, and we were so excited to discover a new city, much bigger than the towns we grew up in, but when some strange men told us we had beautiful legs the excitement and happiness died down, and none of us said anything until we turned the corner. The realisation that a handful of words could shut up an entire group of young, outspoken, smart women like us made me feel extremely angry.
What does being part of this campaign mean to you?
To me,being a part or the Chalk Back campaign means having a way to put the frustration and anger I feel to good use. Thanks to this movement I'm learning what activism is and how to do my part in trying to better the society we live in, and this is just thanks to the community that has built itself from nothing but chalk pieces and social media.