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, October 27, 2007

Just Another Day...of Street Harassment

I can't leave my house to run a few errands without being harassed by annoying men!

Barely a block away from my house, a Rasta-looking fool said "Hey babe!" from the passenger side of a parked van.

"'Hey babe'?" I said in disgust. "How about 'Hey miss' or 'ma'am'?"

All that fool did was give me a shit-eating grin.

Walking past Get'n'Gear Motors on the corner of 12th NE and Otis NE (which ironically is where the middle-aged men tried to "holla" at me in this previous story), I hear "there's your buddy!" and laughter.

I tried to ignore it, but they repeated it. It's hard to fight human instinct, and I turned my head towards it. There was a man with yet that same shit-eating grin, another guy who was wearing a dingy undershirt with a large tear in it, another man, and worst of all, an older woman who was maybe in her 60s, with her wig looking polished and looking like she should've been in church. They all broke into laughter.

"Your buddy's lookin' at you!" the guy continued to yell. More laughter.

"Fool, please!" I yelled. I am tired of this mess! "If you want to get my attention you say 'Excuse me miss' or 'ma'am'! I am not 'your buddy'! I don't know you!" I tried to walk away, but they wanted to continue with the joke.

"Excuse me miss or ma'am," the ringleader said. More laughter.

Hell no. I marched back up there. "Do you see me smiling?" I said. "I don't find this funny!"

The laughter stopped. The smirks faded.

"You have no respect for women," I said.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," he said. "Let me start over, my name is---"
"I don't want to get to know you!" I said. "You missed your chance. Let this be a learning experience for you. The next time a woman walks by, don't make fun of her. Just say 'Excuse me miss.' Let this be a lesson for you."

Finally I walked off, and not one of them tried to sass me back or break into laughter. I highly doubt any of this would ruin Get'n'Gear Motors' business (it's one of those neighborhood rinky-dink auto shops), but at least they had their lesson for the day of how not to treat people.

It is not about me "not having a sense of humor." I do. I just know when and where to use it. Had I known these people already and they said that, I would've laughed and said, "How are you, Mr. ___________?" and gone from there. But these people got too personal too quickly without getting to know me. Not cool at all.

And on my way back, the "loitering losers" were once again trying to call to me. Ignoring them wouldn't work, because even though I was halfway down the street, they kept calling to me.

"If I wanted to respond to you, I would've done so the first or second time!" I yelled. "Quit calling to me!"

They shut up.

So I'm back home and a frazzled mess. I'm tired of being harassed while WWF---walking while female. None of my family or acquaintances understand the magnitude of this. Many think I ask to be harassed.

My mother will relay the same story to me about how she was harassed when she was younger, and how now she'll smile if a man asks her to or respond even if they say "hey, baby" just to avoid inciting them. I tried to explain to her that it's not right but she refuses to see eye to eye. It's a generational difference, I guess.

When relaying my stories, some people ask "what are you wearing?" or "how do you carry yourself?" as if any of that matters. I'm sick of that "blame the victim" idealism.

What I would love to achieve is to be able to run errands, take a walk, check my mail, hang out with friends, go out dancing, etc., without being harassed. I don't think it's too much to ask for.

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