Tell us about yourself.
Hi, my name is Regan Baker and I am originally from Pennsylvania, but I moved to DC for college! I am 18 years old and go to the George Washington University.
When did you start your account?
I was actually not the original creator of this account, but Trinity (the creator) was no longer able to keep up with the account because of school, so she needed a new leader. I stepped in around January of this year along with a few others.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I came across catcallsofnyc on Instagram when I was a senior in high school and was so inspired by it. I knew I was going to DC for college, so I thought that maybe I could create a branch there. I forgot about it for a while until we were discussing activist art in my Artist-Activist class this past semester, and I figured it was a sign to finally get started on it. After I discovered that catcallsofdc had already been created, I reached out to Trinity, who told me that she needed a new leader. I figured it was meant to be and got started right away!
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
I think chalking is a good method because it is very effective; it is pretty much impossible for people not to see it as they walk by on the sidewalk. I have witnessed many people stop to read my chalks, and I think it really makes some people think about the prevalence of sexual harassment and why it is that way.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
I believe that everyone deserves to feel safe in pubic (and anywhere really). It is never okay for someone to violate another person’s sense of security, no matter the circumstances. Ending street harassment is an important step to achieve this.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
My favorite thing about DC is how green it is for a city. Everywhere you go, there are trees and flowers planted on the edge of the sidewalks and plenty of parks. Also, the view from the Potomac is amazing.
How can your city better address street harassment?
I think that putting up signs to deter street harassment could be effective. There are a lot of signs in the metro warning against illegal activities on the metro like eating, drinking, and listening to music without earbuds, so why can’t there be signs against sexual harassment too? I also think that the police should fine harassers on sight, but I do realize that oftentimes harassment goes unreported. Passing stricter laws against street harassment could also be effective, but again there are problems because the government can hardly ever achieve anything, especially in DC. Overall, I think that harassment needs to be taken more seriously by police and bystanders.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
I hope to spread more awareness about the prevalence of harassment in my city and educate people on the seriousness of street harassment. I have already gotten some negative comments, but I hope that my responses have helped to educate people who do not view street harassment as a serious problem or who think it’s just a “compliment.” Hopefully, over time, street harassment in DC decreases.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
Once, when I was about twelve or thirteen, I was waiting for my mom on a street corner. I had been on a run, and my mom liked to walk behind me because I was so young. Since she couldn’t keep up with me, she asked me to wait for her on the corner. I had been standing there for no longer than a minute when a car pulled up beside me and an older man rolled his window down. He leaned out and said, “Need a ride babe?” This had never happened to me before and I didn’t know what to do, so I just said, “No thank you” (always so polite, even when being harassed). He said, “Come on babe, just get in the car and let me give you a ride.” Now my brain told me I was in danger, so I said forcefully said, “No!” and started walking the opposite direction as fast as I could. I could hear him yelling and swearing at me from his car, and I was afraid he would get out and grab me. Thankfully he drove away soon after, and when my mom caught up to me I was still in shock. That night, I was scared to sleep even though I knew he couldn’t have followed us home. I still remember every detail of that moment, and I wonder what could have happened if I had stayed frozen and not walked away.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
To me, it means standing in solidarity with fellow victims of sexual harassment and fighting back in a really powerful way. It means empowering others to speak up and use their voices when they feel silenced.