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, November 27, 2007

Harassing-Ass Men---Leave Me Alone!

This was just one of those days when the men on the street (and in vehicles) would not leave me alone.

On my walk to the train station to get to work, two men honked at me, and one yelled "yo, schweeheart!" out of his car.

I got a (much needed) reprieve from harassment at work.

Leaving work and heading to the drugstore I had so many other things running through my mind, harassment not one of them. I passed one man who was unloading some truck.
"Go-jiss!" he yelled at me. (If you're going to "holla" at me, at least pronounce it right.)

I walked past a guy who was hanging with what looked like his girlfriend, and he looked me up and down. I gave him the most scathing look ever.

I then walked past a group of moving men (and one woman) who were slacking on the job. "Howya doin', baby?" he asked.
"Do not call me 'baby,'" I said, seething.

I make it to the drugstore, and this guy was too close behind me in line, so I moved up a tidge. He then proceeds to move up on me again. I turned around and gave him a nasty look and he quit.

Leaving the drugstore, I walked past a middle-aged and well-dressed man on his cell.
"Hello, beautiful," he said.
"You're too old to be hitting on me like that and I don't know you," I said. "Leave me alone."
This man had a look of shock on his face.

Further along my journey, I walked past a man who said "Well, hey-lo!" to me in that creepy tone. I looked behind me and he started to follow me. I gave him a nasty look and he stopped.

I got on the train, and got another reprieve from the attentions of creepy guys. Having my headphones on at that moment helped me.

I proceeded on my walk home, and the "Loitering Losers" were once again absent---good. However, I wasn't harassment-free yet.

Right around the corner from my apartment, right before I was going to turn, this van pulls up to me. It is pitch-black, the driver's face is semi-obscured (except this annoying-ass grin) and I didn't even wait to find out what he wanted.

"I do not know you---keep driving!" I yelled. He continued to sit there. I refused to proceed until he left. I didn't want to give him a hint as to where I lived.
"KEEP DRIVING!" I yelled.
The guy finally pulls off and I notice he has Maryland license plates (unfortunately I didn't get the plate number). I make sure he's good and gone until I turn towards home. I make sure to look over my shoulder to make sure he or no one else try to pull up on me. Can someone tell me where it's considered normal for a strange man in a van to pull up aside a woman walking alone in pitch-black evening (7:30, but still dark)? I'm grateful I have some sense of street smarts, for this man could've kidnapped me.

So that, my readers, is a day in the life of a harassment recipient. Whether it's "benign" like a "hey, go-jiss" or creepy like a random man pulling up in a van, it's a pain in the ass to go through on a regular basis.

More on the intersection of race, class, gender and harassment

Another write-up on the race/class/gender intersection of harassment at The writer is a gay minority, and questions where the power really lies.

Woman Assaulted on Green Line

I just heard about this story on WJLA. The woman was trying to travel from Waterfront to L'Enfant Plaza, and this fool sits next to her and starts squishing against her. When she tried to move, he got violent and started attacking her. I commend the teenage girl who acted on behalf of the woman and helped her out. However, I'm greatly disappointed with the indifferent attitude the woman received from Metro authorities, and that once again no one stepped in to help. Metro doesn't seem to care when it comes to this stuff going on.

I cannot count the number of times I've reported incidents (being catcalled at by Metro employees, flagging Metro police down about rowdy kids trying to attack me) just to be dismissed. Not only does Metro NOT CARE about getting a better-running transit service, but they don't give a damn about passenger safety either.

This sounds extremely like the story I posted the other day, "Silent Witnesses." How the hell can you sit there when someone's calling for help and being attacked right in front of your face? This is the video of the Green Line assault story, and this girl had every reason to be terrified. With WJLA on the case, Metro won't get away with this that easily.

With all the stories of women being attacked and crying out for help and not receiving said help, I hope people start to see the light and make changes for the better. If you were in that predicament, you'd want help too.

Editor's note: is following this as well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Loitering Losers" Technicolor!

Thanks to Peggy Sue for sending me a clearer copy of the shot I recently took of the "Loitering Losers."

I took that same route home as I normally do, and they were nowhere to be found today, thank god. I refuse to change my route and let those uncouth men cow me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Silent Witnesses

The following is from an anonymous contributor in Missouri:

I had never heard of the term "Street harassment" but that is exactly what I would call what I have been experiencing here in St. Louis, MO.

I have had a lot of horrible things happen when I am not in a car or cab.

I was on the bus and this man sitting toward the front kept staring at me. It was very annoying not to mention uncomfortable. When he rung the bell for his stop, he walked up to me and tried to whisper something in my ear, I took my purse and slapped him with it. Then he punched me in my face. I am a 5'5'' female, this man was a 6 foot around 200-something pound male. The bus driver was actually going to let this man off the bus. I told the driver when I call the police that I would report him if he let this man get away. The bus driver let the man off of the bus and I saw him take off running.

When the police got there no body on the bus would say anything. It wasn't because they were afraid, afraid of what, the man was long gone by now and nowhere to be found. I still cannot believe that was allowed to happen, that no one including the bus driver would speak up about what happened. This has caused me to hate the way society is. If I had a chance to repeat the same situation over again, the only thing that I would have changed is I would have used mace to blind him first, tried to break his nose, and then I would have gotten off the bus not the other way around.

I am truly, truly sorry for what happened. That man shouldn't have touched you let alone come near you. In the same token, I applaud you for keeping brave and attempting to report this fool.

The reason why this ignorant behavior is allowed to perpetuate is because people keep silent. No one realizes that the voices of the many outweigh the solitary voice of one. A busload of witnesses yet no one spoke up? Genovese syndrome indeed. If more had taken initiative---the bus driver, the passengers, and so forth---that thug would be sitting in jail right now for assault. All we can hope for is that a good description was given and that someone recognizes him and turns him in. We need less of these people walking free and more of them in jail.

Anonymous, I once again commend you for having the courage to face that asshole. I pray that you can find ways of staying safe in Missouri.

A lot of people comment on why we don't want attention from these men. "You're too hard, you don't give them a chance," you'll say. We don't want attention from these men because they aren't "real men." Real men don't go from calling a woman "beautiful queen" to "ugly bitch" in 0 to 60. Real men don't go around putting their hands on women a fraction of their size. Real men don't make threats of violence. Real men work towards making women feel safe, not scared. Real men need to stand up and do right in the community.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving To You Too, "Loitering Losers"

Note: I have no problem accepting stories without photos. Your safety is much more important than getting a photo. Don't do what I did in this story. I normally don't put my safety on the line like this, but I've dealt with these men on numerous occasions and am fed up.

I left the house today to grab more ingredients for the pies I was baking for tomorrow. On my way to the store I walked past my "friends," the "Loitering Losers," who have been featured on numerous occasions on DBS. Through my peripheral vision I spotted about four or five of them. They were big, bad, and nothing but trouble. I tried to stare straight ahead and act like they weren't there, but their annoying voices pierced through that brick wall I'd put up:

"Hey, pretty girl. Where's your smile?"
"You on Hell Date?"
"You said she on Hell Date! HAHAHAHAHA!"
"Happy Thanksgiving to you, pretty sistah."

No Happy Thanksgiving wishes could take away the humiliation I feel any time I face these men. They are always hanging out at that park/bus stop, hitting on me, calling out to me and annoying the hell out of me.

The creepiest part that happened was that one of them got up and started following me. I was the fast walking "damsel in distress" (I hate that term) and he was the slow walking zombie. I got into the store as fast as I could.

On the way back, I didn't walk past them but took that street that intersects near the park. They were still trying to call to me.

"Girl, when you gonna be on Hell Date?" (I've seen Hell Date a few times but don't know what the hell [no pun intended] they were getting at with that comment. 'Nothing comes from talkers but sound' as Tevin Campbell's "Round and Round" goes.)

They were calling to me, cajoling me, and making me irate. I head home, put my groceries up, threw on my sneakers and grabbed my Nikon and head back out the door.

I walked back towards that park/bus stop. Two had already fled and a third one was dashing away when I pulled out my camera. I stood across the street first, but I was too far away to get a good zoom on them. I had no choice but to get closer. I was terrified but determined to get this shot.

These idiots burst into laughter like what I was doing was the funniest thing at first, but when the camera's flash went off they knew I meant business.

"You need to go after the dude who just left!" one yelled. "He was the one startin' stuff...not us!"
"Bitch, I'mma snatch that camera out yo hands!" the other yelled.

I got my shot, and that's all that mattered. I doubt they were going to lay their hands on me. I did remember seeing a police car not too far from there, and not even these idiots are dumb enough to beat a woman up in front of the police. Also, though it was dark it was only 6 in the evening and people were still out and about.

But as I said, I got the shot. "Thank you!" I said in the most cheesy and saccharine tone.
"Girl, you don't go around takin' photos of people," Thug 1 said. "Dat's not cool."
Neither is bugging women who walk by you.

I walked away casually. I refused to let them see fear. I heard what sounded like running and turned around. "I'mma chase after you!" Thug 2 said, but all he did was jog in place.

"Whatever," I said, dismissing them with a flip of the hand. As I walked back home feeling good to get a closer (albeit dark) shot of the "Loitering Losers," they were complaining out loud and acting like petulant kids. If they'd stop humiliating women that walked by, it wouldn't have had to come down to that.

I walked past a father and son on my way home, and the father told his son in babytalk to "Say hi to the nice lady!" I smiled and waved back. It's good to know that some men are taking responsibility and raising their sons to be upright men, and that I once again took a step towards putting the light on DC's street harassment problem.

I hope we get stuff accomplished in next week's meeting. Have a safe, happy and hopefully harassment-free Thanksgiving, all of you.

Edit 11/22/07: I just noticed that Thug 1 is flipping the bird in the photo (it is a dark photo, but it's easier to see when it's enlarged---click the photo to enlarge it). Real class act, that one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First DBS Meeting Postponed---12/1/07

Because of the holiday this week, the group decided it would make more sense to move the meeting to the following week, December 1st. Please sign up to join the group (links in the sidebar and at the bottom of the page) to keep updated.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


For the past week and some change I've been trying to act treat the men on the streets like the non-entities they are to me. I'm sick of having screaming matches with these losers and stooping to their level. I started this new tactic the last day I was in NYC.

After heading back to my hotel from leaving the Papaya Dog on 42nd & 9th (it's okay, but not the genuine NYC hot dog taste I was looking for) and walking up 8th Ave. to get back, I walked past what looked like a sleazy lingerie shop. I rolled my eyes and some man who was standing in the doorway of it said "You're too sexy for that stuff!" It took all in my power to act like he didn't exist.

Back in DC, it's been a chore as well. I've found some dead days where the harassment didn't happen which is a sigh of relief to me, but when it Most of these instances were benign, but it's aggravating to not be able to leave the house and go from point A to point B undisturbed. Men, talking to a woman on the street is not a right you have -- it's a privilege, if that.

I was walking to the train station to head to work on Wednesday, and the man in the passenger side of a garbage truck stuck his head out and waved at me (why do these clowns always try to "holla" from the passenger side of the car?!). As usual, he was old enough to be my father. I ended up reacting.

"No...No...NO!!!!!" I yelled. Maybe if they did their jobs instead of trying to flirt with women half their age, then there wouldn't be a rat infestation from the piling-up garbage!

I went back to ignore mode on Thursday. I was waiting at Farragut North Station to go home and this man comes up behind me and says "Hey, pretty girl" to my back. I know it was addressed to me since there were no other females in that vicinity. It was easy to ignore him because I never respond to those who don't have the courtesy to address me face to face. I walked to another section of the platform, and noticed that once again this was a man old enough to be my father. It leaves a sick feeling in my stomach that these old men think it's appropriate to talk to younger women. Who's encouraging them to do so? I guess I look forward to getting older because these men will finally leave me alone, but they'll find a new crop of 20-somethings to mess with. Gross.

Coming home from tae kwon do yesterday, I descended one escalator and spot this guy. He was bugged-eyed, buck-toothed and I knew he was going to try to talk to me. We learn about "telegraphing moves" in tae kwon do sparring class, and that's exactly what this guy was doing. Instead of going up the other escalator, he stays at the bottom of it and watches me come down it. I felt like I was under a was uncomfortable.

When I reach the bottom of the escalator, he says "You are so purty." I am tired of getting unsolicited compliments from these pitiful men. I'd really just rather be left alone. And the staring at me like I was an object really unnerved me. No wonder good guys are afraid to approach women...creeps like this ruin it for them.

The last straw was walking home from the train station. A dark car pulls up to me and the driver says "Girl, d'you need help? Need a ride?" It took all in my power to act like he wasn't there...that creeped the mess out of me. It was 8 in the evening -- not late, but rather dark.

The guy finally got the hint that I didn't want to be bothered with him and drove off. But I kept looking behind my shoulder to make sure he didn't try to follow me home.

So today's been harassment-free, but that's because I didn't leave the house. I don't plan on leaving the house at all this weekend. It has nothing to do with being afraid to leave the house, but because after a long, busy week at work, tae kwon do and other things I just need rest. But when I leave back out again this week, I really for once just want these men to leave me alone.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Back from NYC

I just got back from my trip to the Big Apple and just like my last trip there, the men just have no shame when it comes to harassing women. Some of my instances were benign, but others made me cringe.

The main thing that bothers me is that these men feel they have the right to talk to me or any other woman the way they do -- or period. Right when I was trying to exit Penn Station, some guy starts walking along with me and talking as if we were "down" or something. It made me uncomfortable that some guy I don't know just came out of the blue and was trying to walk with me. No "hi" or anything like that. It was an invasion of personal space. I moved away from him and he got the hint.

These men also feel the need to let me know how attractive they find me. I hate, hate, HATE these half-assed and empty compliments. They're cheap. I'd rather get a compliment from someone I've known for a while that comes from a place of the heart, and not from a random stranger.

I had a harasser who was acting inappropriately while on the clock. On Wednesday I went to FIT to check out their gown exhibits, and while most of the security guards were professional and stonefaced, this one kid in the basement exhibit acted like an idiot. He kept making goofy noises, and as I left the exhibit he says, "Girl, you workin' it with that red and black [in regards to my outfit], aren't you?" I looked at him with a look that read "Boy, you aren't even worth a verbal response" and kept going.

The worst was the clown above. I grabbed something to eat after seeing a show last night and was walking down Broadway to head back to my hotel. He was getting too close to women while trying to hand out copies of "The Onion." The number of men on the streets trying to sell stuff or hand out flyers while getting too close was an annoyance. I told him to back the hell up off me, and he gets closer.

"I wanna be close to you, baby," he says, with a lecherous smirk.

Ugh! This man was some homeless bum in need of a shower and he looked old enough to be my grandfather. I had my camera on me then, so I pulled it out and took a shot. He covered up his face, unfortunately.

"So you're brave enough to harass women but a big old coward when it comes to getting your picture taken?" I said. "Pathetic."

As soon as my camera went down he got bold again and started blowing kisses at me.

"Nasty-ass coward," I said. "You need to take a shower." If you want a description of his face, just imagine a crusty, dried-up raisin and there you go.

I met up with an old schoolmate while I was in the city, and she commented on reading DBS. She told me that women who walk with a purpose tend to get bothered less.

"But I look straight ahead, usually wear my sunglasses in daytime, and am always walking with a purpose," I said. "So why are these raggedy men always targeting me?"

I don't think I'll ever find the true answer as to what makes me a target for these men. The caliber of men who do this bothers me as well. I came from a Broadway concert (yes, a concert on Broadway and not a play) yesterday and was wearing a tailored peacoat, matching scarf and gloves, and black palazzos with black leather heels. I was looking chic and the men who were trying to talk to me looked like bums -- baggy pants, dingy sweatshirts, hair that needed grooming -- why do they think I'd even want to talk to them? One of the DBS readers (I cannot recall who at the moment) had said something similar -- classy women don't want to be bothered with bums and losers! Pretty much.

I'm missing the fun and color of NYC, but am glad to be back in DC. I'd be even more glad if harassment stopped in DC, but until then, let's keep fighting to get it to end.

*And I'd like to extend a thanks to those who have joined the DBS group so far, and am looking forward to seeing many more sign up.*

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Away for a few days

I will be going out of town for a few days and will moderate whatever comments/submissions I receive as soon as I get back later this week.

I hope your time is harassment-free, and I hope for a harassment-free trip as well.

Stay safe, all.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Your behavior and your played-out clothes are out of style

I had harassment encounters with the EXACT SAME MAN (pictured above) two days in a row.

Around 6pm as I was heading home Thursday, this man was standing at the bus stop near Barnes & Noble on M Street. He was wearing the most played-out maroon track suit and yapping on the phone with someone. He stops his conversation to look me up and down.

" Mmm...beautiful," he mumbles under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear.

"'re too old and gross," I said.

"I wasn't talking to you, I was talking on the phone," he claimed.

Yeah, right.

Yesterday, I left around the same time and whaddya know? The same guy -- now wearing a powder blue track suit -- is walking towards me on Wisconsin. The only things on my mind were the errands I needed to run in the short time before my martial arts class and the dinner I was going to after class with my classmates. But this fool had to invade my personal space again.

He's on the phone again, and he walks up close to me and mumbles "I need to go to the bank" in this sexual tone. I could feel his stank breath on me. And he starts looking me up and down again.

"You're too close, dude," I said. "Back off."

I go to my bank (not the same one he went to) and do what I need to do, and when I leave I see this clown again! He does the same mess he did on Thursday -- the "" shit.

"I am tired of this!" I yelled. "You are disgusting, creepy, and you make my stomach turn!" People started staring at him when I yelled, but it didn't faze him one bit.

"If you don't leave me alone I'll--"
"You'll do what?" he said, nonchalantly.
"I swear I'll kick your ass." This man has degraded me, made me uncomfortable, and he is vile. I'd long since had enough.

He stands there on his phone, and I'm in a frazzled mess. I pulled out my cell phone and took the above shot of him, but he turned his head.

"You're going on 'Don't Be Silent,'" I said, "because you don't know how to leave women alone."

(Readers, if you see this tacky-looking loser hanging about the streets of Georgetown, watch your backs. I'm determined to put an end to his tasteless ways.)

I was harriedly trying to put my phone back in my bag and zip it up, but I just wanted to get far away from that creep and ended up walking and struggling to close my bag. All these men kept trying to talk to me -- "Shawty" this, "Hey baby" that -- I just wanted to scream. The only thing I wanted was to run my errands, attend my class, and have a fun dinner with friends afterwards. I didn't need all these punk-ass men bothering me!

The above man was one of the men who tried to "Hey baby" me as he was coming out of some establishment (near Five Guys, I believe). He got snapped.

"Why did you take my picture?" he said.
"Because you don't know how to leave women alone!" I feel like a broken record.

I rode the bus and was irate. I normally fall asleep from exhaustion on bus rides but I was just miserable from my experiences with those men -- mostly "Tacky Track Suit Man." The way he got close to me and made me uncomfortable made me feel sick to my stomach.

I go to my martial arts class, and am grateful that I did go. I got a chance to let my anger out through punching, kicking and yelling. And had I not gone to that dinner after class with my friends, I would've been in a sour mood all evening. No, it's not cool that harassment happens, but for once I got an opportunity to have fun and not worry about idiots. Sometimes laughter (with friends) is the best medicine.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reactions to Street Harassment

Cristina at Eckington DC Living did a write-up on how she handles street harassment. She also left a response on a previous post which sums up as to don't let it affect you and don't give the harassers power. As much as I agree that we shouldn't let the actions of boorish men affect us, it is really hard not to.

When you've got boorish, tacky, uneducated, tactless, ghetto, disgusting men standing on street corners or making comments from their cars, such as (all these have been said to me):

"Shorty, can I talk to you?" (Shorty is obviously not my name.)
"Boo-Boo, whaddup?" (You're a grown man, learn to use your words.)
"Fuck you, bitch, you ugly anyway." (Sorry I didn't give you the response you wanted.)
"Bitch, you betta watch it or I'mma smack da shit out you."
"I'mma say whatever I want to you! Fuck dat 'miss or ma'am' shit."
"Yo, Redbone! Yo, Snowflake!" (I may be a light-skinned Black woman, but damned if I'll let men talk to me that way because of such.)
"You a dyke, you don't like men." (Because I don't want to take a ride from a man I don't know who's old enough to be my father? Come on, now.)

...simply for leaving the house, then no, it is not easy to ignore or to not let get to me. Because I leave my house, because I am a single female, this is the treatment I get from these raggedy assholes. I've learned to, for lack of a better term, to expect it. People tell me that I should be "flattered" to get male attention. I'll be flattered when I get respectful attention from respectful men. Being called "sexy" by men old enough to be my grandfather leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.

This guy may not have been that old (he may have been a few years older than me) but his comment to me made me want to vomit:

"Girl, you look 17---and you look good."

Obviously, I'm not 17. But the fact that he thought I looked it and found me attractive frightened me. What if he pulled this mess on a real 17-year-old? I should become a decoy for Perverted Justice and have Chris Hansen from Dateline step in.

I feel myself going off on a tangent, but long story short as long as harassers run the streets, there will be recipients of harassment. And as long as there are recipients of harassment, they will respond in whatever way they feel is right. If screaming and cursing helps, good. If crying at home helps, cry away. If hitting a punching bag helps to release the aggression, go to it. People are going to react to harassment whatever way they can, and no one can change that.