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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A big F*** YOU to harassers in the DC area.

Dear Harassers,

I'd love to thank you for making my life miserable. Because of you I dread leaving the house, am always tense and am ready to snap at any given moment. Because of you, I refuse to talk to any men, regardless of whether their intentions are good. Because of you, I have to re-route my journey home to avoid you. Because of you, I feel self-conscious, aggravated, miserable and a nervous wreck. So a huge FUCK YOU to all of you. FUCK YOU for making me feel lower than shit. FUCK YOU for thinking that women's rights are a joke. FUCK YOU for making real men who respect women look bad. FUCK YOU for getting away with your bullshit.

I'm sure you'll never see this message because you're too busy hanging out on street corners or driving around in your cars harassing women like me, but man did it feel good to let that anger out.

A woman who doesn't take your shit

Today was not my day (when is it ever with street harassment?). I wore my "Don't Call Me Baby" shirt, a shirt I've worn many times before. Reactions are hit or miss. Today was nothing but misses.

A crazy homeless guy stood next to me laughing like a nut. I walked away from him to leave him to his devices.

I went to Popeye's for dinner today, and this group of punk-ass kids were coming out of it. I was not only outnumbered (four to one) but these were big kids. The boys were about 6'3'' each and built like football players, and the girl was 5'9'' and really husky. (None of them looked like they should've been eating Popeye's, but I digress.)
"Yo, sex-ay!" one of the boys yelled at me. I felt disgusted. Getting hit on by boys a decade younger than me revolts me.
"Ugly!" I yelled back.
"Her shirt say 'Don't Call Me Baby,'" the same boy said. "Bay-bay!"
These kids then started laughing and making non-sequitur cracks like a bunch of lunatics.
"Take your crazy asses back home to your mothers," I said, while entering the restaurant. Losers.

At the grocery store not too far from Popeye's, the idiot ringing my groceries up read my shirt. "'Don't Call Me Baby'...okay, baby!" he said with a laugh.
"Not funny," I said. "Finish doing your job so I can get out of here."

And going down the escalator in the train station, some dork wouldn't stop staring at me.
"Stop staring," I said. "It's not cool." At least he followed directions.

At least my idiot co-worker didn't make that dorky joke he tends to make when I wear the shirt: "What if your mother or grandmother calls you 'baby'?" he says with a guffaw. I give him a dirty look and he'll stop.

I think with my shirt, idiots are only going to see the front and not the message on the back: "Fight Street Harassment." They're only going to see what they want to see and make commentary from that. It's like my brief experiment with the porno cards: idiots will only look at the front ("Hey...wanna get laid?") and not the back ("Then stop harassing women!!!"). Dummies want validation to be dumb and they'll completely miss the lesson.

I realize that I'll get more attention than normal when I wear the "Don't Call Me Baby" shirt, but I refuse to stop wearing it. More and more fools who harass women will see the full message and start to get the point. And if you want a shirt similar to mine, you can have one custom made at sites like Zazzle.

The walk home was annoying as usual. Men found it appropriate to yell at me from their cars, honk their horns, etc. But one instance will have a "happy ending."

Some clown in the passenger side of a van was yelling junk at me. Out of reaction I yelled "damn, fool."
Guy in the passenger side gets mad. "What you say? Huh? What you say?"
These punks were so stupid. As I continued to walk (yeah, I was really going to stand around and let them try to grab me or something [rolling eyes]) I noticed that 1) it was another Comcast van and 2) this time I could see the license plate. I started reciting the license plate out loud, and as soon as I was safe from the punks I wrote it down. Since I couldn't get in touch with someone via phone or e-mail at Comcast, I will have to make a trip down there myself. These punk men have to learn that this behavior is not acceptable---on duty or off!

Even on days when I'm not wearing the "Don't Call Me Baby" shirt, I still feel like I'm being singled out by harassers. What is it about ME personally that makes me a target of this bullshit? I'll get depressed because I see young women who are happy. They walk with confidence and demand respect. They get positive male attention and have boyfriends. People tell me that if I do the same then I'll get positive attention from guys as well. But it's a catch-22 and it's hard to feel strong and confident 100% when the worst of DC are the only ones paying me attention. Another thing I notice is that confident and happy women are rarely solo. 99% of the time I'm on my own. I don't really have a lot of friends and confidantes in this city, but I am not one to "sit around and wait for it" to come my way. It really is a catch-22---more good people would gravitate to me if I felt good about myself, but it's hard to feel good about myself when I'm being harassed.

I'm hurt, frustrated, and am in a rut with this nonsense. 'Til tomorrow.

Ooh child, things are gonna get easier...ooh child, things will get brighter...

1 comment:

Cristina said...

I read this post some time ago but I’m only getting around to commenting.

I like your blog and I peruse it because often times, I read something and say oh, that happened to me too. I have since moved, but on a daily basis, I walked Columbia Rd and occasionally Mt. Pleasant Rd and not a day went by that I didn’t encounter some form of street harassment. I was actually flashed in broad daylight when I walked down the alley besides the Safeway. Contrary to how you’re feeling, I think those who are harassed a lot, are harassed because they send out a strong and confident demeanor which is attractive to most people. And I think the comments and contributions you get from readers should show you that you shouldn’t feel singled out.

Street harassment has never bothered me to the point that it made me feel bad about myself or depressed. At the end of the day, there is just no room for me to give the street harassment I encounter on a daily basis much thought. It’s always just been an annoyance. I’ve managed to do my daily walks being deaf to anything I perceive as harassment. I look past harassing people as if they don’t exist, I ignore car horns, whistles, leers, etc. and like you, I’ll only respond to polite greetings or compliments. I think I’ve gotten so good at it, it is the people I’m with that will notice the stares or say they feel offended for me.

People who harass want attention and I refuse to give them that. The only days that street harassment affects my mood or get a reaction for me is when I’m having a bad or tough day in general, when it’s a particularly disturbing or disgusting incident, i.e., being flashed, or if it’s racially derogatory. I admire that you post your experiences up and that you respond to your harassers, it’s gutsy and it takes a lot of strength to put your daily experiences in writing. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I think to let street harassment make you feel the way are feeling or bother you to the point of ruining your day is an extension of that harassment.