There are a lot of reasons we talk about street harassment so much here on Bustle. If a picture is worth a thousand words, though, New Orleans-based artist and illustrator Ursa Eyer has captured all those reasons in one comic about street harassment, “Cat Call.” Eyer posted the comic, which addresses her personal experiences with cat calling, on her blog on August 24; since then, it has spread far and wide, and I hope it keeps going further. “Cat Call” shows exactly why we have to keep talking about the issue, keeping the conversation going until it — hopefully — finally becomes a non-issue. And not because we all just learn to (in the words of the NY Post) “deal with it” — but rather, because cat calling has disappeared entirely.
“Keep in mind, this is a very, VERY vanilla version,” Eyer noted on her blog when she posted the comic. “I kept out all the super horrible and gross stuff because, I’m hoping this gets my point across.” And although she added, “This comic is only meant to illustrate my history with this upsetting part of our culture,” her experience is far from unique, making the comic all the more important. Spanning Eyer’s experiences beginning at the age of four all the way up through the present at age 28, the comments begin as the type that most people say about cute little kids:
Over time, though, as Eyer’s illustrated self grows up, those comments become first slightly uncomfortable, then outright disgusting:
For anyone who has ever used the justification, “Man, I was just saying hello — she didn’t have to be such a bitch about it!” for why their catcalls aren’t a problem… this is for you:
What Eyer’s comic illustrates so perfectly is that a cat call is not just an isolated incident. It’s a whole history of incidents, with each one piling on top of the last, encompassing years and years of unsolicited comments. “At a relatively young age we have to learn, often by ourselves, how to deal with really frustrating and sometimes scary situations,” Eyer told the Huffington Post via email. “We deal with it so often that it just becomes a part of our daily lives. We don’t even mention it, because it’s the norm.” But it shouldn’t be — which is why we need to keep the conversation going.
The Doree Lewaks of the world are rare. For most of us, the world is as it is in Eyer’s comic: A relentless barrage of comments about our bodies and ourselves. But wouldn’t it be amazing if the world became a place neither like Lewak’s or like Eyer’s — a place where we could all simply exist? That world begins with calling out behavior like street harassment until it finally stops, once and for all. And I can’t wait until we get there.
Check out more of Eyer's work over at her Tumblr.
Images: Courtesy of Ursa Eyer