In some of the photos, the men are grinning, giving the thumbs up, waving at the camera. In others they are blowing kisses, draping an arm around her shoulder, staring into the camera with defiance, with flattery, with bluster.
They are all catcallers, documented on Instagram account @dearcatcallers by 20-year-old Amsterdam student Noa Jansma. Her intention was to snap a selfie with every one of her sexual harassers during the month of September in order to raise awareness about the frequency of this unsolicited attention. What she found was a little more disturbing.
“#DearCatcallers, it’s not a compliment,” Jansma writes. “Since many people still don’t know how often and in whatever context ‘catcalling’ happens, I’ll be showing my catcallers within the period of one month.”
She told BuzzFeed News the idea for the project first struck her during a class discussion.
“I realized that half of the class, the women, knew what I was talking about and lived it on a daily basis. And the other half, the men, didn’t even think that this is still happening. They were really surprised and curious. Some of them even did not believe me.”
To be clear, Jansma did not select only men for the pictures– Her catcallers juts happened to be confined to that gender. When she first started snapping selfies with these dudes, she was nervous the men would be suspicious of her motives. “I was kind of fearful,” she said. Turns out, she needn’t have worried.
“Most of the time they have their thumbs up, they’re happy because they honestly think that they’re complimenting me. They really didn’t care about me. They never realized that I was unhappy.”