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Feminist Apparel anti-harassment street signs
@feministapparel via Instagram

Anti-catcalling street signs appear across New York

This guerrilla campaign wants to stop street harassment in its tracks

Street signs have appeared across New York urging the public to join the fight against street harassment. Nonprofit online clothing store Feminist Apparel and Philadelphia activists Pussy Division have teamed up and placed over 50 signs across the city with messages stating “NO CATCALL ZONE” and “NO CATCALLING ANYTIME.” Along with these messages, the signs also feature graphics of cats shooting lasers from their eyes at wolf-whistling stick people.

The campaign has been made in response to the pressing topic of everyday sexism, which has been grabbing more and more headlines over the last year. The collaboration between Feminist Apparel and Pussy Division came from them having one common cause: stopping sexual harassment. So, as part of international Anti-Street Harassment Week, they have created this guerilla campaign to grab America’s attention and put a stop to the issue. 

Alan Martofel, production coordinator of Feminist Apparel, told the Observer: “We hope to get at least one sign up in each borough by the end of the week as street harassment and catcalling is obviously a universal issue not contained to any one neighborhood.”

“Awareness-building and dialogue-creation surrounding feminist issues is at the core of our nonprofit’s mission, which is why getting these street signs made and up and working, alongside Pussy Division, has been such a fulfilling experience,” explained Martofel.

So far the campaign has been receiving lots of attention online, with many people praising the idea and even asking for these signs to be put up in their town. But as pointed out by some Twitter users, there are a few problems with this campaign. As one guy puts it, any New Yorker who has lost their cat won't be able to call for them where the signs have been put up. So, if you lose your cat in New York, good luck trying to find it.

Others have taken a more serious jab at the campaign, complaining that the signs imply areas of town that don’t have any signs up are acceptable places to catcall – defeating the original purpose of the signs.

Even with these complications, the campaign should hopefully make a difference to the amount of street harassment female New Yorkers are facing.

The most recent stats on the issue carried out by Hollaback! and Cornell University revealed 85 per cent of US women had experienced street harassment by 17, whilst 67 per cent had experienced it by age 14. Street harassment towards women has become an important topic across the world, as more and more campaigns try to raise awareness and call for government action against it.

Here in the UK we aren’t much better off, with official stats showing that one in five women aged 16 and over have been victim of a sexual offence. In Laura BatesEveryday Sexism Project that hit Twitter a few years ago, women across the UK were invited to share their sexual harassment stories using the hashtag #ShoutingBack. Within five days of the project being launched over 3,500 women had shared their stories, revealing just how bad street harassment had gotten in the UK.

So if this No Cat Calling campaign continues to take off and helps reduce the stats for the US, we may be seeing these signs plastered across the UK very soon.