Many women know the harrowing realities of getting sexually harassed by complete strangers. Living in New York City, it’s a regular occurrence for many. As someone who has lived in NYC for 25 years, I can attest to this uncomfortable fact.
Artist Sophie Sandberg is also from New York City, and, recalls that she was sexually harassed for the first time at only 15-years-old. Now, 21-years-old and a student at New York University, Sandberg is taking her personal experiences, and the experiences of others, to make a bold and colorful statement.
Sandberg created the project “Catcalls of NYC,” which uses sidewalk chalk to paint the vivid and traumatizing words women have heard while walking down the streets of New York. Sandberg puts a call out to her followers to share their stories with her, asking where they’ve heard the statements and how it’s made them feel. In many situations, Sandberg revisits the exact spot where the harassment took place.
"A man ran across the street, and after a long string of more minor things, he said to me, 'I’d break you in half with my dick.' I was a block from home and terrified he’d follow me… it was particularly awful. The ones that stick with you always are. It happened in Clinton Hill on Washington Avenue across the street from a playground." – anonymous
Sandberg told The Huffington Post:
“By writing the comments on the sidewalk where they happened, I raise public awareness about the issue. The colorful chalk and colorful words catch people’s eyes. They force those who wouldn’t normally experience catcalling to take a second look.”
"'Mmm.. Nice and bouncy, just the way I like them' on eastern parkway right before going down into the nostrand ave 3 station. I was walking fast because I had an important meeting early that morning and felt so ashamed, overexposed, and vulnerable my entire day at the office afterwards." – @mollyrose429 #stopstreetharassment #timesup
Street harassment is something that many women face, with 65% of women in the United States reporting they have experienced it themselves.
You can see more of Sandberg’s project on Instagram @catcallsofnyc.