Montreal catcallers target of new campaign: 'We don't owe you anything'
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, November 13, 2014 8:26AM EST
A new poster campaign intended to inspire women to reclaim the streets of Montreal is taking aim at catcallers.
The posters, which feature various anti-harassment messages in both French and English, are aimed at raising awareness about the unwanted sexual attention directed mainly at women.
One poster featuring a sketch of three women says, “We don’t owe you anything, neither time or smile.”
Reads another: “Just because I move through public space does NOT mean that my body is a public space.”
It’s not clear who is behind the poster campaign, but anyone can download the posters at ontwatch. The blog says it hopes to inspire women to reclaim their streets.
“This is an invitation, to all people who are tired of feeling like a walking piece of meat, all those who don’t know how to respond to those entitled morons’ gaze and comments, to any person that is sick of being a ‘victim,’” the blog reads.
The campaign is reminiscent of Stop Telling Women to Smile, a New York-based street art series that also attempts to address gender based street harassment.
The awareness campaigns follows on the heels of a viral video that shows a woman being bombarded with catcalls during an hours-long walk through the streets of New York City.
Women’s rights advocate Toula Drimonis says the posters help drive home the message to men that this type of attention is unwanted.
“For the first time, I think a lot of men are finally getting it,” Drimonis says. “They’re finally getting that female point of view that women deal with a lot of stuff that they don’t necessarily need or want.”
Ontwatch isn’t the first Montreal-based campaign targeting street harassment. Hollaback Montreal provides an online forum where people can post their personal stories.
Organizers say it shows just how pervasive the problem is. “It affects your day, it affects your self-worth, it affects how you feel about your physical appearance,” said Hollaback Montreal’s Becky Burns.
But some women say they don’t necessarily find catcalling offensive.
“It depends on the way they say it, if it seems like an actual compliment, then it’s OK,” one woman told CTV Montreal.
But others, including some men, say those types of comments are just meant to make women feel uncomfortable.
“I guess it’s a form of sexual abuse, which is totally not OK,” one man told CTV Montreal. “So, awareness, especially in poster form, will get people’s attention.”