Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Tasneem, I'm 17 years old, and I've lived in Toronto for the last four years. I've just started freshman year at the University of Toronto!
When did you start your account?
I started my account around six months ago.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I had been following @catcallsofNYC for a few weeks and was looking at their most recent post. I don't remember what the catcall was now, but I remember that it hit me hard and that I started thinking about what I could do to stop street harassment. After searching around, I found out that there was already a @catcallsoftoronto account, but then noticed that it was completely inactive and hadn't posted anything in over 3 months. I even sent the owner a DM asking if we could collaborate, but received no response. So I finally started @catcallsofTO!
Why do you think "chalking back" is a good method to raise awareness?
I think chalking back is an absolutely brilliant method of fighting street harassment! Catcalling is often trivialized (especially by those who've never experienced it), and writing down these disgusting things that are said to women right on the sidewalk really forces people to take notice. I once had a man come up to me while I was chalking and tell me that he never realized the kind of impact catcalls must have—that reading what I had written on the sidewalk made those words feel like they were said to him.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
It's absolutely necessary to end street harassment in order to achieve gender equality. We can't ever say that we've taken down the patriarchy while men still feel like they have the right to shout obscenities at women.
What's your favorite thing about your city?
There's always something going on in Toronto! It's really exciting to live here and experience all the different events and festivals and meet people who like the same things you do!
How can your city better address street harassment?
There should be a fine for catcalling. It should be shamed the same way that shoplifting or TTC fare evasion is. I want to see posters on the subway about it, I want to see signs on the main streets saying that catcallers WILL be prosecuted.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
My greatest hope is that catcallers take notice and re-evaluate their thoughts and actions. I hope that someday I stop receiving submissions.
What's the most difficult street harassment situation you've experienced?
A man cornered me while I was outside a building waiting for someone. He said: "You're beautiful. You're so fucking sexy. C'mon, come back to my place. Will you come? Come with me." He kept asking and backing me further and further against the wall. There was a security guard inside the building—he didn't do anything. It was terrifying and I cried for a very long time afterwards.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
It means that I'm an advocate. I do my best to educate others about how horrible street harassment is.