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 30, 2007

Times When I Wish I'd Said Something

Bold as I can be, there are times when I wish I would've spoken up. I'm not always slick with a comeback or a way to shut fools up or let them know when their behavior is inappropriate. Here's one of my experiences when I "sat there and took it." It's not "street harassment," per se, but inappropriate behavior nonetheless.

I sometimes act, and last year around this time I was trying to find photographers that did affordable headshots. Places around here are either too expensive or unreliable (one guy I found cancelled on me twice---not worth my time or money). My sister suggested this guy who took shots of her, and I used him. Big mistake.

I get to his house/studio, and I knew it was off to a rough start. "I forgot you were coming!" he said. Not cool.

I sit and wait for him to set up, and he goes on and on about some video vixen that he took shots of recently, talking about how "built" she was. He tries to show me photos of her but I am disinterested.

Five minutes in, this guy is asking me out on a date. Mind you he's about 15-16 years older than me. He hadn't even started taking photos yet! At this moment I should've upped and left but I needed headshots badly.

"Sir," I said (emphasis on "sir"). "You're my photographer. I don't feel comfortable with that." That was timid and weak of me. If I could go back in time I'd pull myself out of that situation.

Instead of realizing how inappropriate he was, he starts to complain. "All y'all sistahs complain about wantin' a 'good brotha,' but all y'all really want are the thugs," he whines. Huh?! This man doesn't know a damn thing about me, doesn't know my name (he either called me by the wrong name or totally blanked on it throughout the day), but asked me out on a date and makes these invalid assumptions about me---BULLSHIT!

Other things he asked that were inappropriate were if I had a boyfriend and had kids. My response was "Why do Black men always think that Black women have kids? Why even ask that?" His lame response was that since my sister does (I have two sisters, and he mixed them up as well) he thought I did. Oh, the shame.

So finally he starts taking my photos but the phone rings and he starts to talk inappropriately to someone about the video vixens and Paris Hilton-types at a party he took photos of the previous night. N-word this, bitch that. I walked away---not out the door, but away. Two strikes for me. He got the hint ("I have a client here so I'll talk to you later") and continued taking my photos.

In the room I changed in there were clown wigs, Rasta dread wigs, and video vixen photos. Ugh.

The ordeal was close to over but he made me take more photos (my heart wasn't in it anymore---it never was), and some woman closer to his age came to work on his website. I sat and waited for him to airbrush my shots, but two was enough for me.

"That's it, I only want those two," I said.
"Just two? I can do them all," he replied.
"Two's fine," I said.

He prints out two off-color shots (I was wearing a green shirt in one, but it printed out teal), I take them and the master CD and prepare to leave.

"Next time, we'll do black and white shots," he says.
"Yeah," I said.
"And let my make-up artist work on you next time," he says. "She can hook your make-up and hair up!"
"Yeah," I said.

I left out of there so fast. There was going to be no "next time." Being asked out on a date and assumed of liking "thugs" and having kids was rude, unprofessional and inappropriate. So was his going on and on about video vixens and their behaviors and bodies. It hurt to, as usual, not get support from family. When I was needing more shots months later, my mother said I should consider going to him again. I had to keep my cool there.

So there's a lesson I've learned. Being respected is more important than a damn headshot. That behavior was not worth my time or money. I will never let some horndog creep ever intimidate me again---and I haven't since.

I still don't have new headshots, but fine by me. At least I got my voice back.


M said...

You should check out today's Gene Weingarten chat here

There's a debate over what bystanders should do upon seeing someone being harassed.

Don't Be Silent DC said...

M, to keep the convos flowing (and somewhat on topic), please send articles you find to

Thank you for your submission!