Will These Startling New Catcalling Stats Change Anything?

Feminist Apparel joins the effort to end catcalling

Catcalling signs are posted all around the city, photo courtesy of Alan Martofel, founder of Feminist Apparel

Catcalling signs have been put up all around the city (Photo: courtesy of Alan Martofel)

Catcalling, a form of street harassment, is part of a large problem women in New York—and just about everywhere else—face everyday.

According to a study released to the Observer by Hollaback! (a nonprofit to end street harassment) and Cornell University, 85 percent of women in the US have experienced street harassment by the age of 17, 67 percent by 14, and a further 77 percent of women have reported being followed by a man that made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the past year. Only three percent of women said they found catcalling flattering.

Feminist Apparel, a nonprofit whose designs shed light on gender issues, jumped on the effort to end catcalls in accordance with Anti-Street Harassment Week.

Alan Martofel, production coordinator of Feminist Apparel, told the Observer that 50 signs have been put up to address the issue around the City, with more to come.

The signs state “NO CATCALL ZONE, end street harassment” with an image of a cat appearing to shoot lasers out of its eyes to nearby dancing stick figures (one of which appears to be holding his crotch). Sticker versions of the design are also making an appearance.

This is the first community-based activist campaign funded by the sale of Feminist Apparel t-shirts, according to Mr. Martofel.

Photo courtesy of Alan Martofel, founder of Feminist Apparel

(Photo: courtesy of Alan Martofel)

“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,” Mr. Martofel said.

He said the nonprofit is also working with Pussy Division, a Philadelphia-based feminist guerrilla collective, to put signs up around Philly, too.

“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,” Mr. Martofel said.