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Woman confronts catcallers with cards against street harassment and films their reactions


A woman in Minneapolis in the USA has been handing out 'cards against harassment' to men who call out to her on the street and filming their reactions to being confronted about their behaviour.

28-year-old Lindsay has been handing out cards, and filming the reactions of men who shout at her on the street. The cards put across the simple message "It's not a compliment. It's harassment."

The Minneapolis resident writes on the Cards Against Harassment project's website that "just as frustrating as the harassment itself is the feeling of powerlessness that comes with not having had a chance to defend yourself or convey how the harassment affects you." She wanted to find a way to express that and designed the cards to be handed out when somebody had made her feel uncomfortable on the street - having previously put out a post to a catcaller on Craigslist.

The cards, in business card form, are designed to remind the onlooker that they are causing at best annoyance, and at worst fear in the women they are shouting at.

The ten designs Lindsay has drawn up so far include messages like "So, you like how I look? Do you know what I like? Walking down the street without getting my appearance commented on by total strangers" and "I'm sorry, there must have been some confusion. See, I thought I was minding my own business, but apparently you thought I was asking you to comment on how I looked by walking by."

The Cards Against Harassment designed to be handed out to catcallers - click the image to see larger

Lindsay writes that she wanted to quash the idea that shouting at women on the street can be seen as a compliment: "individual comments taken in isolation may seem like they are not inherently offensive, but ... the constant barrage of such attention tells women that the moment we step outside into a public space, we are being graded for our looks, and not just silently graded, but graded in a way we are supposed to find complimentary when expressed by total strangers."

She has also begun filming her experiences with street harassment, asking the men who call out to her in the street about what they are doing, and encouraging others to contribute their own videos to the Cards Against Harassment Twitter feed - in a similar way to the Everyday Sexism project. The videos are shocking, but make a point about the way that the men portrayed believe shouting out to women on the street is not harassment.

Lindsay told Buzzfeed that "the filming provides them a platform to embarrass themselves in a way that they’ve already embarrassed me" and that "the irony is not lost on me, that a man who gave me unwanted attention is now upset he may get unwanted attention.”

The designs can be printed off from the Cards Against Harassment website and customised so that other women can use them too. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will be met positively, and should not be used in a dangerous situation, but Lindsay's approach to what many women find to be an everyday problem is original and effective in its simplicity of message.

Watch some of her videos below to see the reactions of her catcallers.

Words: Victoria Gray, Images: Cards Against Harassment/Rex



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