Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Sofia Casimiro, my pronouns are she/her and I run @catcallsofucnj. I’m a 17-year-old, Peruvian activist living in Union County, New Jersey. I am a strong advocate for ending street harassment and gun violence as well. When I’m not chalking submissions that I receive, I’m taking pictures, making short films, or yelling in frustration with my friend while watching Jane make horrible decisions on Jane the Virgin. Any Michael & Jane shippers out there?!
When did you start your account?
I started @catcallsofucnj late in February of 2019.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I thought that street harassment in Union County, NJ, was not given the attention that it deserves. I wanted to help strike up the conversation on street harassment, and help rid of its normalization.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
Seeing a chalked submission on the ground draws the attention of people walking by. It makes them stop in their tracks for a moment and read the submission in utter shock or disgust. It makes them sympathize or maybe even empathize with the victims of street harassment, and become more aware of harassment’s prevalence in society.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
Ending street harassment is important because everyone regardless of age, gender and other demographics should have the right to feel safe when walking down the street. Without street harassment, we would have much more friendly environments to grow up in and live in. Ending street harassment is a very important step towards tackling and ending rape culture as well.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
I live in a tiny city, and I love how homey it is. Life in the suburbs may not be too exciting, but I enjoy the little things like nearby thrift shops, park reservations, and famers markets. I also like how for the most part, my city is a closely-knit community.
How can your city better address street harassment?
I think that first and foremost my city/county needs to address street harassment through a series of presentations and workshops in our schools, like they do with bullying and suicide prevention. Parents may think that their children are “too young” to know about street harassment, but I believe that if students are taught that harassment is wrong, at a young age, then they will grow up with this mentality. It is important for parents to enforce this idea themselves if they are willing to. To hold more perpetrators of harassment accountable, I think that my state should pass stricter, more inclusive laws to enforce that street harassment is illegal and reportable in NJ.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
Although one of my main goals for my account is to help raise awareness on street harassment in my area, my biggest goal is to provide victims of street harassment— and any type of sexual harassment or assault for that matter— with comfort. I hope that all of the stories shared on my account show these victims that they are not alone, and that we are all in the fight against street harassment together.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
One time when I was walking to a movie theater in my county, a group of 4-5 boys rode by in their car and yelled out vulgar comments at me like “ugh I’m jizzing” and “my dick hard.” At first I didn’t realize that these catcalls were directed towards me, but when I did I was very embarrassed and uncomfortable. The whole block might as well have heard them.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
Being a part of this campaign means being a part of the change in society’s perception of street harassment. It means empowering victims to speak out and share their stories. It means relatability & comfort to victims such as myself, and a sense of community that I have not found elsewhere. I am so thankful for the “Chalk Back” team: the amazing support & awareness movement that continues to grow each day.