Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Roos. I’m 22 years old and born and raised in the beautiful city of Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. I am a media studies graduate and I decided to become a full-time feminist during my gap year!
When did you start your account?
My first post was on the 26th of august 2019
Why were you inspired to start an account?
For some time now I wanted to actually do something with my feminism and take real action! During the summer break I was listening to a Dutch podcast called Damn Honey and Ambrien, from catcallsofams was a guest on one of the episodes. I got both frustrated and inspired by her story and immediately decided: when I get back in Groningen I’m going to set up an account and try to wake up my city!
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
We shouldn’t ignore this problem and by chalking back in public you literally can’t ignore it! Writing down comments, which are usually only visible for those who experience them, in big bright letters makes clear to everyone how often this happens. If it is said to someone on the streets, we have all the right to chalk it on the streets!
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
We should all be able to walk around without being bothered and most importantly without feeling scared!
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
It’s not too big and not too small. Everything you need is here and at the same time it feels like a small town where everyone knows everyone. The city is cosy but also open for innovation and change.
How can your city better address street harassment?
The city needs to make clear that they do not tolerate this kind of behaviour. Campaigns should focus on how we can help each other, how we can all be more assertive and intervene in situations of harassment. Groningen has a pretty big nightlife which is great however sexual harassment is almost perceived as something that is part of a night out. The city should go against this normalization!
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
I hope this account can be a wake up call, for those who might have catcalled and to those who have been a bystander of harassment. Furthermore, I hope local political parties come up with concrete laws and measures that could help in the fight against street harassment. I’m already seeing progress. The city council and night council are keen on tackling the issue and are coming up with ideas for campaigns and workshops. For instance workshops for bar staff which aims to teach them how to deal with situations of harassment in the nightlife.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
The most difficult about any street harassment I have ever experienced, is the fact that I don’t know how to respond. Or that I don’t even respond at all or just laugh it away. I know this is something I shouldn’t feel bad about but it is so frustrating because afterwards I can be so annoyed and angry about the situation and the fact that I and so many other people have to deal with this.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
It feels really empowering! It is amazing that it has become such a big global movement. Many of us live on opposite sides of the world but we are still connected through this cause. We are all completely different but we share the same values and goals, which is pretty cool!