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.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's All About Respect

Greg had sent me this message:

I ran into your blog from your post on [a community list serv]. First I would like to empathize with you, even though I am a male I am well aware of harassment in DC. My wife regularly walks to and from the Metro station everyday and regularly comes home upset by some disrespectful comments.

Now my point. I lived in Egypt for a while and had a number of Western female friends who were being harassed constantly by the same guys on their daily commute. They mostly ignored them but were definitely bothered by this.

One day as I was walking her home she showed me one of the harassers. We crossed the street and I engaged the guy very nicely asking him why he was harassing my friend. He couldn’t really make an answer but we chatted a bit then left. After that the guy would respectfully wave at her and she would acknowledge his presence by nodding or waving back.

If the situation is obviously very different with harassment in DC because of the twisted relations between foreigners and locals in Egypt, the underlying dynamics in my opinion still apply even though it may be harder to implement in DC: People don’t harass people they know.

By talking going to talk to the harasser she ceased to be a sexual object and became a human being. If this is of course impossible to achieve with random harasser on a commuting route it may be achievable to some extent with some repeat offenders.

Just my two cents.

In my frequent run-ins with the "Loitering Losers," I think we're far past my approaching them respectfully. Many times I've told them "that's not cool, that's not polite, call me 'Miss' or 'Ma'am'" etc., etc., and it goes in one ear and out the other. But in future situations with different groups of LL's, it's something to try.

When I've been antagonized so many times by the same group of people, it's hard to approach them respectfully. You just want to yell at them and curse them out. But like always, I'm open to different approaches. If anyone has the courage to test this tactic out, please e-mail me and let me know how it works. Thanks Greg for your submission.

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