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Monday, March 27, 2023

“We chalk it up”: How the Catcalls of Linz act against sexual harassment

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The public actions are intended to sensitize society to catcalls.
Image: private
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Derogatory remarks, misogynistic comments, unwanted calls – there are many forms of verbal sexual harassment in public spaces. This is exactly what the “CatcallsofLinz” initiative wants to chalk up – in the truest sense of the word.

The activists of the action group use sidewalk chalk to make sexist slogans visible in public, sometimes exactly where the said statements, so-called catcalls, were actually made. “Catcalls aren’t compliments, they’re a subtle way of humiliating and degrading women,” Eva Schobesberger (Greens), councilor for women, said at a press conference today. The occasion: The “CatcallsofLinz” are honored for their commitment with the Women’s Prize of the City of Linz.

Documented online

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On Thursday at 7 p.m., the award ceremony, which is endowed with 3,600 euros, will take place in the old town hall. The initiative prevailed against 22 other submissions. There are “Catcalls” groups not only in Linz, but in a total of 49 countries. These have their roots in the international Chalkback.org movement.

The “CatcallsofLinz” have been active since 2019, they want to create visibility for the topic with their actions and at the same time raise awareness in society. The activists Maren and Mariella also made it clear today that catcalls are not characterized by appreciation and respect, the two have been the driving forces behind the Linz initiative since March 2022.

“Not enough is talked about”

Almost every woman has experienced verbal sexual harassment at some point, but often they are not even aware of it at first. “Far too little is said and often simply accepted,” is the experience of the two. Your chalk actions aim to change that.

Those affected can contact the initiative via the @catcallsoflinz Instagram account and describe their catcall experiences. Maren and Mariella then use chalk to bring them onto the street. Your campaigns are also documented online, making the group of addressees even larger.

A postcard has now been designed with the women’s office of the city of Linz, on which (anonymously) experiences are also shared. It is planned that these will be painted on June 15th in the inner courtyard of the Old Town Hall.

Not always positive reactions

The reactions on the street are not always positive, but Maren and Mariella are not discouraged. Some of the chalk campaigns also led to good conversations, they reported. Incidentally, the “CatcallsofLinz” are also represented in the current exhibition “What the fem” in the Nordico with a chalkboard wall. There, visitors can write down their experiences personally.

The municipal women’s representative Jutta Reisinger is enthusiastic about the voluntary commitment of the activists, the number of unreported cases of cat calls is huge. Making it visible to the public could give a good impetus to think and reflect. Women’s City Councilor Schobesberger also emphasized that the initiative does important awareness work both online and offline.

Source: Nachrichten

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