Tell us a little bit about yourself.
There are two of us running this account: Sophie (left in the photo) and Eloise (right in the photo). We have known each other since primary school and we are now in Sixth Form together too. In the future I (Sophie) want to do something within the social work sector. And Eloise wants to do something in the medical field.
When did you start your account?
We started our account on 24th March but our first chalk was posted on the 2nd April. We already have over 300 followers so we’re quite proud of how much it’s grown within the first month. People from our area are sharing our posts which is also helping a lot
Why were you inspired to start an account?
We were inspired to start an account as we’d been following @catcallsofnyc for some time and we saw the good work that they were doing and how it brought a lot people together, especially now with @the.realcatwalk. We’d also realised that every girl we know has been catcalled so we wanted to make something positive out of something negative.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
We think it’s a good method to raise awareness as it is harmless, so people can’t really argue with us for ‘vandalism’ as it’s not permanent. It also looks bright and colourful on the path so people are more likely to stop and look, rather than at a poster on a lamppost. While we chalk, people walk past and are actually intrigued by what we are doing and we like that it’s drawing the attention of the public.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
We think it’s important to end street harassment as no female feels completely safe when they leave the house as we never know when we will be catcalled or harassed. We also think that it shouldn’t be so normalised to expect such harassment on a daily basis and so we want to make the public see that this isn’t something we just have to ‘put up with’.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
Our favourite thing about our city is how friendly everyone is. Geordies are typically known for being friendly and having charismatic attitudes, and so this actually makes us feel more comfortable to chalk as we know we will most likely not have any issues from the public. A lot of the time people mind their own business or make friendly chit chat so it’s quite nice to not feel so on edge all of the time.
How can your city better address street harassment?
Our city could better address street harassment by teaching about it in schools at a young age as it will allow those to be educated on it from a professional source. A lot of boys in our school were not aware of how often the girls they know are harassed, but when the Sarah Everard case came up, there was a lot of information being spread about it on social media. And so ourselves, and social media were educating them on the subject. However we think it would be nice to know that the school will not tolerate any of this, by educating everyone on it, as we don’t think it is solely up to us to say that harassing women is bad.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
Our hope for the outcome of this account is that people in our area will feel empowered to share their stories as they will see that others have shared. They will also see that they are not alone and that it is nothing to be ashamed of as it is never their fault that they were catcalled. We also hope that we will get more members of the @catcallsofncl team in different areas of Newcastle so we can spread the message in areas where we cannot get to.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
Sophie- I was walking to meet my friend in the summer last year so I had a skirt and a vest on and there was traffic next to me. A car with two men inside drove past, beeped and shouted some sort of sound at me out the window. It wasn’t words it was just like a noise that made me feel gross. I’m only ever catcalled when I’m showing skin and it’s frustrating that I kind of expect it to happen soon cos it’s summer. People were around but no one reacted and I didn’t know how to, so I just carried on walking. I heard a beep a couple of seconds later and turns out they had just done the exact same thing to my friends that I was meeting.
Eloise- i was followed by a group of young men and they started shouting usual catcalls like ‘look at her’, ‘how fit’ etc. until they started harassing me for my snapchat. they started commenting on my arse as i walked and how ‘it looks great in those jeans’ and then one of them said ‘i dare you to grab her arse’. it was the most unsafe i’d felt because i didn’t know if they’d touch me or not.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
Being a part of this campaign makes us feel **** as we are both doing something to stand up for every person that has ever been harassed, so it’s nice to know we are having some sort of impact. It has also given us confidence which has been so beneficial to us. Like to put everything down and start chalking in front of people is scary as it’s out of our comfort zones but once it’s done we feel great as we’re spreading awareness and trying to change the way that people think.