What an interesting experience it has become to leave the house as a woman. No longer can you just go about your day thinking of the boring mundane things most people think of, like am I going to catch the train on time, should I trust the weather app or bring an umbrella just in case and why is everyone staring omg there something on my face get it off, get it off
No, leaving the house as a woman now entails that you owe it to the universe – more accurately the male universe – to be your best, prettiest, sexiest self who is also very flattered and interested in random lurkers commenting on your looks as you walk by.
If you still don't know what we're talking about, it's verbal sexual harassment, also commonly known as catcalling.
Defined by Merriam-Webster as "1: a loud or raucous cry made especially to express disapproval (as at a sports event); 2: a derisive remark," catcalling is really so much more, especially when it targets women.
In no way exclusive to ladies (yes, catcalling affects men too but as several experiments have shown, it fails to produce the same results), these unwanted comments are believed by many to be a form of sexual harassment, mainly because they are rarely performed with respect and, as other forms of sexual abuse, instill fear in the subject.
The reason the catcalling debate is such a controversial one is that there are and always will be people on both sides who believe it's just an innocent form of flattery – according to them, why should you get offended if someone yells "dayyuum" from across the street or tells you to "smile."
Shattering these beliefs isn't easy and the simple argument that no one should be subjected to unwanted attention doesn't seem to cut it – that's why we're so happy to see projects like Cheer Up Luv come to life and show us the true colors of everyday catcalling.
Cheer up, luv
Cheer Up Luv is an ongoing photojournalism project by London-based photographer Eliza Hatch (@elizahatch). Born out of too many personal experiences and sickening accounts of other females, the project aims to document their stories and let these women take ownership of their experiences. Speaking to Dazed, Hatch said:
"The amount of times I have been told to 'cheer up' or 'smile' by a stranger is countless. It is one of the most simple and seemingly harmless phrases, but is actually extremely problematic.
It leaves you disarmed, and feeling guilty, embarrassed and angry in the space of about three seconds, while you are left thinking of a comeback that's too late to say."
Hatch believes that sexual harassment in itself is not even the only problem here, it's the lack of awareness surrounding it. Thus, Cheer Up Luv doesn't just focus on emotionally-charged portraiture – through its narrative, the project aims to record, recount and spread the word of what street harassment looks like and how it affects the people involved.