The Girl Up Club of New Jersey Institute of Technology serves as an advocate for change both on and off campus. In association with the United Nations Foundation’s nonprofit organization, this club promotes feminism ‒ the social, political, and economic equality of males and females. Recently, the Girl Up club gathered data regarding ‘catcalling’ through an anonymous online survey. 245 members of the NJIT student body responded to the survey. 86.1% of respondents were female, and 13.5% were male. The majority of respondents were 18-20 years old, with the second mass of respondents being 21-23 years old.
When asked what they thought catcalling was, respondents generally commented on its objectifying nature and how it can come in a myriad of forms. This included, but certainly was not limited to, noises, whistling, unsolicited comments, unprecedented flirting, and other forms of verbal harassment.
One respondent described catcalling as, “A person making sounds, calling you names and yelling different nonsense to obtain your attention and comment on your physical appearance, rather than approaching and speaking to you like a human being ….”.
When asked if they or a loved one has been catcalled before, 83.7% of respondents said yes and the remaining claimed that they had not or were not sure. Furthermore, when asked how they felt about being catcalled, individuals generally conveyed that it made them uncomfortable, disrespected, and unsafe. Following this, when asked if they were wearing what society views as provocative clothing, a majority of 68.6% said they were not. 95.5% of respondents replied that they do not wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf. The respondents also agreed that the individuals who ignite the catcalling have low self-esteem, are ignorant, and are conditioned by society to see that it is an appropriate way to approach others.
The mission statement of the greater Girl Up organization is “Girls are powerful. When they are educated, healthy, and safe, they transform their communities. When girls stand up for girls in need, they empower each other and transform our world…Led by a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates raising awareness and funds, our efforts help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.”
Part of this community of half a million advocates, the Girl Up club of NJIT strives to not only bring awareness to various issues of sexism, but also to raise funds for women who do not have a voice.