#13: Catcalling

Target group

Young people as from 14 years.

Subject matter:

Sexual harassment in public spaces: catcalling

Duration:

One to two teaching units

Description:

Using several short videos, introduce the subject of sexual harassment in public spaces, also known as street harassment or catcalling. The first video is in English but can easily be understood without the spoken text. The two following videos are in German. This is a sensitive matter, so the moderator must make it very clear at the beginning of the lesson that the participants must be respectful of one another.

Examples / Ideas:

1. Ask the group if anyone can explain the term “catcalling”. If no one has yet heard the term, get them to research it online, either in groups or individually.
Wikipedia definition: “(“Catcall / Catcalling is redirected to “Street harassment” for disambiguation): Street harassment is a form of harassment, primarily sexual harassment that consists of unwanted flirtatious comments (also known as catcalling), provocative gestures, honking, wolf-whistlings, etc. in public areas.”

2. In 2014, an American video raised awareness about the extent of catcalling in New York. The video (2 minutes) can be watched in groups or alone, followed by a discussion:

Discussion questions: How does the woman in the video feel? Why are the men in the video behaving this way? Have you ever had similar experiences? How did you feel? How did you react? (These questions must be addressed to both boys and girls.)
3. In Germany, a reporter turned the tables. She whistled at men, made flirtatious comments, etc. in a documentary. The video (6 minutes) can be watched in groups or alone, followed by a discussion:

Discussion questions: What do you think of the reporter’s idea? Do you think that turning the tables is a good idea? How should both victims and witnesses of street harassment (catcalling) behave?

4. To raise awareness about catcalling and fight back against the phenomenon, feminist activists launched the “Catcalls of…” initiative, which is now active in many large cities across the globe (e.g. New York, Berlin, Hamburg, Graz, etc.). This initiative consists of writing the “catcalls” down on the ground with chalk, exactly where they occurred.

The video (4 minutes) https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/video/panorama-cat-calls-of-mainz-100.html explains how the initiative operates, using the example of Mainz. Alone or in groups, the teens can search for other examples of the initiative online (via search engines, Facebook or Instagram). The following points can then also be discussed: What is the potential impact of actions such as “Catcalls of …” or of the reporter catcalling men? Are the examples provided of street harassment similar in all cities, or are there differences? Have you heard these expressions or sentences used in Luxembourg or anywhere else?

5. As a group activity, a discussion about how catcalling can be dealt with in schools can also take place. Who can the pupils turn to (both male and female) if there is a problem? To a teacher? CEPAS? How should one react to such occurrences?

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