We Heart: Catcalling Your Mom to End Street Harassment

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 12.09.08 PMHere’s one way to stop street harassers in their tracks: Trick them into catcalling their own mothers—then watch the mama-rage rain down.

That’s the premise of an anti-street-harassment campaign out of Lima, Peru. The video below, first posted on YouTube in Spanish in November (and subtitled in English earlier this month), shows a team tracking down the mothers of some of Lima’s most prolific catcallers, transforming their looks with wigs, makeup and clothes, then sending them out to stroll past their sons.

Two men fall into the “trap,” catcalling their own mothers with such memorable lines as, “Tasty panties!” Watching the moms tell their sons what’s what is a true delight; one of the men even claims it wasn’t him who catcalled, it was a man in a car.

According to the campaign, 7 in 10 Lima women are harassed on the street in their lifetimes. Here at home, about 65 percent of women say they’ve been harassed in public. In August, Peru’s Council of Ministers passed a bill specifically targeting street harassment. If approved by Congress, the bill would make street harassment punishable under the country’s Criminal Code.

In the U.S., some crimes that fall under the banner of street harassment—such as sexual battery and disorderly conduct—are prohibited by state statutes, but there is no overriding federal or even state-level law that criminalizes street harassment.

Get involved with Hollaback to stop street harassment in your community, and sign this petition to help stop catcalling in Peru.

UPDATE 1/28/2015: It looks like the women and men in this video may be actors and not actually mothers and sons. However, reports suggest the dramatized interactions are based on conversations with men who did unwittingly catcall women they were related to. Plus the objective of the video—to raise awareness about, and ultimate end, street harassment—still resonates strongly. So we still heart this video!

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Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.