Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Sarah, I'm 25 and living in Graz, Austria. I'm working as a local journalist and freelance writer and trying to live a creative, vegan, active, free lifestyle full of positivity. When not painting, baking, working out or daydreaming in my favourite cafés I'm spending as much time as possible with my loved ones and pet bunnies. When did you start your account? I started August 2019, not long after I first came across @catcallsofnyc and found out it is a worldwide movement. Why were you inspired to start an account? Having grown up in the countryside, sexism just as racism is nothing to step back from but rather a form of humor that is incorporated in everyday life. Just as I started reflecting on how disgusting some of these "jokes" really are I understood this kind of behaviour should not be the norm. I also realized when talking to male friends (that are all feminists) that men often simply don't understand why I felt offended by strangers telling me I look hot on the streets. As they explained, if a girl would walk over to check them out or tell them they'd "wanna have a piece of that", they'd truely take it as a compliment and ego-push. I also saw my dad, who is the most loving man ever, telling female cashiers or waitresses they have a nice decolletee one can't look away from numerous times, always truly believing he's just being sweet, followed by some kind of joke the girl would always pretend-laugh to. So I don't believe every man catcalling is an asshole, but they don't always really understand how their words make a woman feel. Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness? As said above, I believe most men see someone and want to express what they feel, often thinking the other would wanna hear it. But still, there's a difference between "you look hot" and "I wanna fuck you real hard". I believe bringing catcalls back to the streets where everyone can read them is an amazing opportunity to visualize how inappropriate those "compliments" clearly are. Many things make more sense once written down. Also, from the female perspective, it's great to see that A) catcalls are happening to everyone and you're not alone and B) therefore it's still NOT okay to simply tolerate them but that you can raise your voice and fight against that culture we grew up in. Why do you think ending street harassment is important? I believe everyone wants to feel safe on the streets. Also, street harassment is only the beginning. It's just one small part of sexism that leads to and verifies rape culture. Every boy that sees his dad calling a strange woman names on the streets will believe it's an appropriate thing to do. By objectifying women (and men, too) we slowly lose boundaries - next comes following someone, touching without asking, kissing without consent - and someday you just take what you feel you're entitled to have, cause "we're all calling for it anyways". What’s your favorite thing about your city? I love Graz for it's general openness, warmth, and familiar flair. It's mainly an university city, small enough to reach everything by bike and big enough to be free to do everything you want. How can your city better address street harassment? I feel like we are on a pretty good way already - as there are so many young academics living here, the city is acting quite aware. We can learn too, not to forget our manners when being drunk. And I would hope the politics are openly addressing the issue too one day. What do you hope is the outcome of your account? That more and more people raise their voices, want to contribute to the project or start their own campaigns. Also, after some time, I actually hope to receive less messages from harassed girls and would love to think it has a little thing to do with our movement. What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced? (if you feel comfortable sharing) I was doing an internship in Mexico for half a year. On my way to work I had to walk right next to the mainstreet and was harrassed probably every single time - puta, blonde bitch, fuck me, things like that - I mostly didn't even listen. The thing that bothered me most about it was that the guys screaming and honking towards me were often sitting in their cars next to their wives and children (!!) while catcalling me. That made me question society A LOT and was quite a personality change, leading to me not trusting in men in general for a long time. What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
I love raising my own voice on this important topic too - and hope I can encourage others to take part in the movement as well.