I'm truly intrigued by your site and would like to throw an item (and my two cents) in the ring.
I've noticed that a lot of the contributors to your site bloggers who have linked to your site are women. And it seems to be their experience, and certainly mine, that much street harassment is directed toward women. Not that there aren't "gender neutral" incidents--like the time a homeless guy chased my boyfriend and I down the escalator at Farragut West, screaming obscenities at us because we didn't have a light; or the time a man at McPherson Square tried to pick a fight with anyone who came up the escalator, but I'm starting to digress.
I heard two particularly bad stories from friends lately, involving cab drivers being overly agressive and/or suggestive (I won't go into them here) and since then what has really dawned on me about all this behavior is how women are willing to react so passive to inappropriate behavior. For example, instead of getting angry at the cab driver who started to fondle her leg, my friend tried to laugh it off and move down the seat, out of his reach. And the Red Line lady on your blog, she only got up and moved to a different car! I can't say that I would have done anything differently in either situation because I don't think I would. I'm starting to think that as women (and to some extent, as part of the "please everybody" culture of the U.S.) we are taught to not make too many waves, and to react politely, even in the face of rude behavior.* I think we ignore our built in instincts. Why is it that no one ever tells you, "the minute someone makes you uncomfortable, it is OK to be rude,"?
One of my favorite advice columnists is Carolyn Hax. She frequently recommends a book called The Gift of Fear, which in a nutshells says we need to listen to our intuition when something sounds or feels or seems wrong. Fear has a purpose, and that purpose is to keep us safe. I think comparisons can be drawn to our general intuition about the people and things around us. When that "6th sense" goes off and alerts us that something isn't quite right, I think we ignore it or react passively to the situation much too frequently. This is not to say that we can or should give every sidewalk-occupying bum at the metro stop a piece of our mind, but when someone is approaching you in an inappropriate way, or spewing obscenities, masturbating in public in front of you, I think you are at some liberty to take stronger action than ignoring it and trying to walk away.
Best of luck with your blog. I hope the publicity from DCist works out well and that you will continue to get contributions to your blog that will expand the scope and give men and women in the city a chance to think about how we deal with this unwanted behavior.
*This is clearly a BROAD generalization. But honestly, most politely raised people (women AND men) are going to take the "smile nod and walk away from the weird guy" approach to most odd/rude behavior from others, yes?
I think safety is an issue when it comes to a reaction. "Will I be able speak up and walk away safely...or will he become a physical threat to me?" There is no one foolproof way to handle harassment since it is impossible to predict the reaction of the harasser.
I don't have the answer as to how to 100% handle street harassment. For some, a simple "leave me alone!" works. For others, walking away works. You have to trust your gut feeling as to how you'll handle that situation.
And Victoria makes a good point...harassees aren't only women. Men can be the subject of harassment as well. I do not want to marginalize men and women. Whether you are male or female, please feel free to tell your story here.
I open the forum: what ways do you think work in handling street harassment?