Please note. . .

Don't Be Silent DC has been inactive since March 2008 and has not been accepting entries since. If you are in the DC area and have a harassment story to share, please go to HollaBack DC. If you are outside the DC area and want to submit your story, go to Stop Street Harassment. Thank you.

As of 3/1/08, I will no longer be working on this blog. Please read this post for more details.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm losing the battle against street harassment

I'm tired. The street harassment has gotten so bad that I need to be coerced to leave my house. As bored as I get being cooped up in this small apartment, I dread having to leave the house. I get a shaky and nervous feeling that runs from my head to my legs. My mentality's gone from "let me be prepared in case street harassment happens" to "let me be prepared because street harassment will happen." I guess it's in vain to ask for the Lord to give me strength when I don't go to church on Sundays.

My brother's birthday's in a few days and I had to get him something. I garnered the energy to head to Pentagon City to get him a few things. I had to transfer from the Red Line to Yellow Line, and as I walked along the Yellow Line platform I heard the middle of some man's conversation then:

"Ooh-wee! Well, hello!"

I hate that perverted tone these men get in their voices. And I hate that he did this overdramatic double-take when I walked by. I turned around and gave him a nasty look.

"Yes, I said 'hello'," he said.
"Don't talk to me like that," I said and continued on.

As I got off at Pentagon City, I noticed my reflection in the doors' windows. Haggard, tired, sad.

I rushed and got all I needed, then headed back to the train station. I walk by two teenage boys, and one of them said, "girl, you need to sit next to me," and pointed at the seat next to him. His friend laughed.

"Excuse me," I said. "Did you say 'girl, sit next to me'?"
"Yeah," the kid said.
"Don't tell me what the hell to do! I'll sit where I goddamn please! You learn how to respect women and go about your business!" I said what I had to say and walked away. To my back there was a lot of snickering, giggling, and "she[sic] ugly anyway."

I got back to my neighborhood and went to the drugstore and market to get some things I needed. I proceeded on home and waited at a light (near the spot where the men always hang out). Some creepy older man was starting to cross coming towards me, and he said "hey, baby!" to a car he passed. Oh, shit.

I was just not in the mood. He "hey, baby'd" me and I was silent. I just wanted to get home...boy, did I just want to get home.

"You're allowed to talk," he said.
Here we go trying to tell me how to govern my actions.
"I don't feel like talking," I said.
"That's why I said 'you're allowed to talk'," he said.
"Don't tell me what to do---leave me the hell alone! I'm tired, trying to get home and I'm sick of men on the street bothering me EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! I am sick---"
"I'm trying to help you get a husband---I'm trying to help you get a husband---"
Everyone who was nearby stopped in their tracks...well, almost everybody.

"You won't get a husband like that," the man continued on.
I took the time to gather some semblance of calm and continue home. Five minutes away...only five minutes away...

"Boo," I heard. "Boo---boo! Boo-boo---" Two men (at least one was a man, I couldn't tell with the other) sitting on that same damn bench were trying to talk to me. Ignoring them seemed to have no effect, since they wouldn't let up. I approached them.

"Look," I said. "I am trying to get home. I don't want to talk to some raggedy, uneducated fools loitering at a bus stop---LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!"
They got quiet. A middle-aged couple had seen this across the street and spoke to each other. I couldn't hear what they said, but I knew they said something about the incident.

I felt a tightness in my shoulders. My body shook as I breathed in and out, trying to keep my calm until I got into the safety of my apartment. I made it home and broke down. (If my eyes weren't so daggone sensitive from wearing contacts I probably would've cried more.) I'm losing this battle, and I'm feeling like putting up that white flag.

I had no intention of living in DC forever, and I am about ready to move out of this area. I looked up the cost of living adjustment and pretty much every place I looked up has a lower COLA than DC. This city is leaving a horrid taste in my mouth. I am bored, lonely, friendless in this area, and am sick of leaving the house to face abuse on the streets. I don't do anything to deserve being treated like an object to drool over or a human punching bag for these men to put their insecurities on. It's time to move out and move on.

Until that day comes, I won't stop trying to make the streets safer for women in DC. I hope more people can support me in that battle.


Wendy said...

This isn't really street harassment, but it's still unacceptable.

I was walking to work tonight (I work overnights, so it was dark outside -- about 9:30 P.M.) when this SUV drove past me. I couldn't even see who was in the car, but I'm assuming it was college guys or high school dudes.

Anyway, one of the f**kers threw some of those popping fire works at me! The car drove off before I could get the plate #. Then five minutes later, it comes from the opposite direction and the same thing happened -- they threw some more of those popper fireworks on the sidewalk next to me to "scare" me I guess.

I was so pissed off by their random prank, but I couldn't do anything. If I had their plate #, I would've called the police, or something.

Golden Silence said...

It is street harassment, Wendy. Any inappropriate behavior used to taunt or threaten in a public space can constitute as street harassment.

I'm glad you're okay. I can't stand punks with nothing better to do.

CreoleInDC said...

I sweat to goodness. You entertain the HELL outta me!

That was unacceptable.


my sister! DC has some of the most aggressive and clearly ignorant men patrolling the street. Me and ALL my girlfriends can attest to that.

I moved to DC from NYC where men had swagger and would approach you nicely. DC men, on the other hand, think you should feel honored because their stank asses are paying you a 'compliment'. "Hey girl?" "You can't say hi?" "Well, you ugly anyway..."

Child, I have heard it all. I spent 3 years in law school trying to find a legal solution to the harrasment but unfortunately despite its uselessness and offensiveness it is protected speech.

If for any reason you feel threatened, call the cops. I had to do it a few times in my old neighborhood. Those useless pigs would spend all day drinking alcohol and hanging outside pestering women. Trifling assess.... (excuse my language, it just brings back incredibly bad memories....)

Mari said...

I don't think you need to leave the city. I noticed the level of idiots making commentary ticked up when I temporarily moved 2 blocks over from where I was living. I expect when I move back into my house that the idiotic commentary will go down because of the dynamics of the areas I pass through.
It may be a neighborhood problem. As far as the metro goes, don't know what to tell you there.

Golden Silence said...

Mari, I wasn't planning on staying in the District and its environs forever. It was a point halfway in the journey towards going towards where I really want to be and what I really want to do in life.

I would love to live in a place that's more artsy, less congested, cleaner, and more respectful of women.

Candid Cool said...

these men are disgusting. i can't stand they way the repeat themselves. "I said hi. You can't say hi back? I said hello." So annoying and disgusting. And it always seems to be a similar type of guy that does these kind of things.

Golden Silence said...

"i can't stand they way the repeat themselves."

I's like "if I didn't respond to your constant calling to me the first or second time, what makes you think I'll respond the third, fourth, INFINITE TIME?!"

These men don't know when to let up and leave someone the hell alone.

jessabean said...

Golden, if you find that place, let me know!

For now I'm kind of glad I live in the 'burbs (but only a little) and don't have to do the D.C. thing on a daily basis. Although I get that crap out here sometimes, too.

kate.d. said...

i hear you. this is the third big city i've lived in, and though i've only been here just under a year, it seems like a hard place. not hard as in difficult, but hard as in hardened.

though i guess it's difficult, too.

you do a real service with this site, though - because when we stop speaking out about it, we fully lose.

Andrew said...

what neighborhood was all of this in? that sucks