Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Mia, I'm 16 years old and from Berlin, Germany. I'm still in school but try to get involved politically as much as I can by going to political youth groups, protests or by helping to administrate @catcallsofberlin. Feminism is becoming a more and more important part of my life as I grow up and am faced with the struggles every girl and women still has to go through in their everyday live.
When did you start your account?
I actually didn’t start the account. But as soon as Asta (the original Administrator) did, I wanted to help. So I started to do some chalking and when it got too much for Asta to keep administrating in October, I took over some of the administrative tasks. Why were you inspired to start an account? I wanted to help because, even though politics have always been important to me, I never felt as if I did enough feminism - wise. I thought and still think that the Chalk Back movement is a good way to get involved. At the same time I was never courageous enough to start an account of my own. So the least I could do was to help Asta. Why do you think "chalking back" is a good method to raise awareness? The Chalk Back movement is an amazing way to raise awareness because it doesn’t only support the victim and reaches a global community that’s growing everyday but - in a best case scenario - the harasser might see the chalk and think about the fact that they might have done something wrong. Victims find a way to report, People who want to educate themselves will find information and people who don’t know about street harassment will become aware on Instagram AND in the streets. Why do you think ending street harassment is important? Street harassment is a symptom of sexism. It usually targets women and proves that some men still feel that women exist for their pleasure and that they get to treat them however they want. It’s a part of rape culture. And apart from that it’s just super annoying not to be able to walk home in peace. What's your favourite thing about your city? I love how political Berlin is. Most people have a progressive world view and are ready to fight for it. There are thousands of ways to get involved. There’s always a protest or political event going on. And apart from that I love the energy and the diversity. There’s so many interesting people from all over the world and always something to do. How can your city better address street harassment? Berlin doesn’t do enough to address street harassment specifically. But Berlin does a lot of things to address sexism: for example the international women’s day (8th March) is a holiday here. So there’s a lot of room for protests, talks etc. It’d be amazing if on these days there would be an official event addressing street harassment. But as I said, Berlin is a very political city so there are lots of people and organizations that organize such events. Sometimes I just wish the law would be on our side; there have been incidents in which we were told to stop chalking by officials and street harassment is not necessarily illegal so most people don’t report it, which would be extremely important to fight the issue. And in addition police officers often don’t even take the victim serious and just tell them to get over it which is outrageous! What do you hope is the outcome of your account? I hope that this account is going to spread awareness. I’ve had so many conversations with (mostly male) people who don’t even know what street harassment is. But after talking and showing them the account most people understood the issue and wanted to educate themselves to be able to do something against street harassment. That’s ideal and since it’s impossible to talk to every individual in Berlin, an Instagram account can reach and educate so many people!! What's the most difficult street harassment situation you've experienced? One time I was having a picnic in a park with some friends. We were just minding our own business when a guy sat down quite close to us, stared at us and started to masturbate. First we tried to ignore him and when he got up we thought he’d finally leave. But he just walked around us, sat down and did the whole thing again. We went and talked to security guards of the park. They told us to leave because there was nothing they could do. So we did and the guy followed us so we eventually decided to leave the park. Not only was the situation disgusting but I also felt very left alone by the officials.
What does being part of this campaign mean to you?
Being harassed makes me feel helpless. Being a part of this account empowers me. It gives me the feeling that I’m doing something and that I’m helping people who have to go through the same shit. Also it’s extremely inspiring to be a part of a global network of amazing people fighting sexism and fighting in a peaceful way to make this planet a safer, better place.