Two Warwick students have started an Insta to shame the men who catcall them

They set it up in light of the Warwick boys group chat

Two second year Warwick students have created an Instagram account exposing men who harass them on campus and around town.

Anastasia Arutyunyan and Amy Hegedus set up "iwasjustwalking" in order to not only photograph the men who harass them but to accept submissions from others.

The Tab spoke to the creators of the account to find out more about why they set it up and what they hope to achieve.

What inspired you guys to create the page?

Ana: Every time one of these incidents happens me and Amy kinda talk about it ourselves and we treat it like it’s not much of a big deal and then we forget about it.

But there was one time where I was going to pre-drinks and within two minutes I got beeped at, shouted at, and then another group of guys walking across the road also said something to me as well.

After that night we were ranting about it all and I thought "wouldn’t it be good to have an Instagram page where we basically call them out for it?" I was hoping that taking photos would get a reaction out of the guy in the car but he just smiled and he waved at the photo.

This account was built from a feeling of being genuinely fed up. Females that are fearful of walking outside on their own because of unwarranted attention from men such as the guy in this photo (who rolled down the window to make derogatory comments about Ana) is not normal and it is not fair. This account is basically a small gesture to expose men and draw attention to this everyday issue. This culture of thinking it’s okay to comment on women’s bodies and pass it off as banter is totally one sided. The feelings of embarrassment, shame and vulnerability felt by woman are totally undermined and we’ve quite frankly had enough 🙂 #leamington #ultrashinewindowcleaningservices #catcall #men #disrespect #stop #that #harassment #metoo #uni #students #girls

A post shared by Amy & Ana (@iwasjustwalking) on

What was the initial response when you created the account? Has have you received any backlash or has it been largely positive?

Amy: Really good. On the first night we got 100 followers, it was so quick. Everyone was like "we’ve been waiting for something like this". Even last night I was in the gym and some girl came up to me and told me she loved the page.

Ana: Yeah there hasn't been any negative response really. The only thing we’ve been warned about is posting photos with their [the harassers] faces in it, because apparently against the law.

We haven’t had a chance to look into it yet, but we’ve decided to block out faces from now on just in case. But that wasn’t a negative it was just a warning.

Amy: Also people have been sending in their own stories to the account, telling us their experiences of sexual harassment and catcalling. It’s amazing how many stories are so similar.

If you could say anything to the men who think it’s okay to harass women like this, what would you say?

Amy: I’ve thought about it so many times in my head. I always want to stop them and ask them, "how would it make you feel if I came up to you and totally objectified you?", or I would just ask them, "how do you think this makes me feel?"

Ana: I feel like if you say anything they’re just going to get touchy like, "oh I was just making a comment love", it’s so hard to respond to it. I’ve just always wanted to shout back to them sarcastically "oh yeah because you just made that comment I totally want to sleep with you now". I really don’t understand what their aim is.

Do you feel like sexual harassment is particularly bad at Warwick?

Amy: I think all unis have a culture of allowing sexual harassment to happen. Especially because of the clubbing culture and the drinking culture.

For example if you go to certain clubs, you know if you go you will be groped. But it’s the norm and it’s so easily dismissed. Any uni that has a drinking culture, aka the whole of the UK, will have a sexual harassment problem. I don’t think it is particular to Warwick.

How do you feel the attitude has been on campus since the Warwick boys chat was exposed? Are people more careful with how they treat women or not?

Amy: I feel like the day the group chat was revealed there was actually so much tension on campus. Every girl I saw I felt like there was this weird mutual connection where we knew we needed to stick together.

Ana: On the day there was a lot of stuff about it online, people were writing out paragraphs with their own opinions of it. That was good because a lot of people came out with their own views, experiences and their own take on it.

I think people might be being more careful when they’re talking about topics like that now. I definitely think that societies are going to be more careful with what they do now, especially within their group chats, because they see how much of a backlash there is.

Amy: There definitely was an atmosphere initially on campus where people were more careful, but now I feel like it might have died out.

Submission sent in: “Soooo didn’t think I’d be messaging you (since I never really leave campus) but today these two guys were right behind me as I walked from the learning grid into the SU.. [They made comments saying “hey there lovely” and the other said “oh she is really lovely isn’t she”]. It was just how close behind me they were as they said it that made it so much worse. And people saying that in the way they did, just makes you feel like their eyes are all over your body 🤢 I felt so shaken and on edge afterwards because they were less than a metre behind me and it felt so intimidating! Even though it’s a situation I can’t help, taking a picture to send you at least means I can do something to embarrass them too.” It’s absolutely disgusting (but not surprising) this happens so often, even if we feel like it won’t happen on the ‘campus bubble’, the issue here is that we can’t really say much back, they’ll get defensive and say they meant it as a compliment and that we should chill out, probs laughing at us for getting offended too..

A post shared by Amy & Ana (@iwasjustwalking) on

You say the petition in your Insta bio was set up because of the Warwick boys chat. What do you think needs to happen at UK universities for this behaviour to change, and what do you think needs to happen on a larger scale?

Amy: The petition is for consent to be taught in UK schools, and it was actually set up by our friends. I think it needs to be taught that with sexual harassment the blame needs to be placed on the male that is carrying it out, because most of the time the burden is put on the women. You wear something nice out and then someone objectifies you and you feel bad about yourself and that’s not right.

Part of the solution is that women talk about it more and also boys need to be taught how to treat women, because at the moment they think they can get away with it. Society has made it okay. It’s not just one group chat or catcall, it’s a wider social issue.

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What was your aim when you set up the account?

Ana: We just want to create an outlet for people to share their feelings and share it anonymously. Because normally when you tell your friends you share it and then it just gets forgotten, but we thought it would be nice if there was a platform where everyone can share their experiences.

Amy: We wanted to create a community where girls can let out those frustrations and also educate guys, because I’ve had a few guys tell me they didn’t realise it was so bad. It gets people talking about it. It removes the shame of it too, which is really important.