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, February 9, 2008

Drive-By Hollas Drive Me Crazy!!

A self-quote from the previous post:

Drive-by hollas leave me on edge because they happen in a split second and catch me off-guard.

I was out today looking for a new apartment. One of the neighborhoods I headed towards was Woodridge. I was running late and I power-walked down South Dakota Avenue. It seemed like a nice, ordinary day. I admired the scenery and nature as I walked.

After checking out the place, I saw so many nice houses, school buildings and churches that I wanted to explore the neighborhood. It was all good until I spotted a pack of "Loitering Losers." I was walking towards this school on Newton NE near 18th, and five crusty, old, bad-teeth having, pitiful men were leaning back against a car as if they were "Original Gangstas." Original Losers is more like it. They said "hi," I said "hi" back (being polite). Then they had to say "Um-um-um...gorgeous." I felt like I was going to throw up in my mouth.

Remembering what I learned from Martha Langelan's workshop, I approached them and told them "I don't like it when men I don't know give me compliments. It makes me uncomfortable. Just say 'hello, miss' or 'hello, ma'am.'"

They copped attitude when I made my spiel. "End of story!" they said, as I spoke.

I proceeded back towards South Dakota to get back home, and the men driving their cars would not leave me alone. Two men beeped their horns at me. One yelled "hello, girl!" out of his car.

"I don't talk to random men in cars!" I yelled. "Leave me alone!"

Another guy in a blue SUV would not leave me alone. He beeped his horn frantically, stuck his head out of the driver's window and waved at me.

"I don't know you," I said. "Stop waving at me!"

When the light turned green, he drove off, but not without trying to say more things to me.

"I don't want to talk to you. . .leave me alone!" I said.

The last was at South Dakota and 16th. A man driving a white truck (Was it a fish truck, furniture truck or moving truck? Unfortunately I didn't notice.) beeped at me and was saying "Hello!"

"I don't know you and I don't want to talk to random men in their vehicles," I said.

But he wouldn't let up.

"I'm just tryna say 'hi,'" he said.

"I do not want to talk to you or any other man from his car," I said. "Let me walk in peace!"

"All I wanted to do was say---"

"Do you hear me?!" I yelled. What little cool I had was gone. "Leave me the hell alone! I'm tired of you men honking at me, trying to talk to me. I don't want to talk to you. . .LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Unfortunately for me, this made me look bad, and anyone who witnessed it would've thought I was the crazy one. No one realizes that I deal with this mess every single day. (See the past few entries for my drive-by holla woes).

I proceeded back home with my head hanging down. I wanted to hide somewhere. My throat hurt from yelling at that last idiot. No one knows the pain I feel when I deal with harassment. And another thing that got to me was that I passed another solo young woman, who was probably going to deal with the South Dakota Avenue Showdown as well. The cycle never ends. I was very depressed from the SD Showdown that I called Martha Langelan, leaving a message on her phone asking how to handle drive-by harassment. When she responds (she's busy doing tours on street harassment on a regular basis), I'll post the answer in a future DBS entry.

I've done numerous posts on drive-by hollas. Out of all the harassment I deal with when I'm out and about, drive-by hollas are the worst. With men hanging out on the street, you can see your harasser(s). Like in my martial arts class, we learn about telegraphs---when you can just tell what your sparring opponent's going to do next. With street harassers, you can tell when they're going to say something smart alecky or ignorant, and you can be prepared with a reaction.

With drive-by hollas, you never know what will happen. A string of cars pass by and you can't tell if the first one or the tenth one will beep and try to crudely talk to you. They really send me over the edge. I can't (nor will I ever!) run into traffic to approach the men who do it, and there's the risk of one of these idiots deciding to grab their harassment recipients and restrain them in their vehicle, and do lord knows what to them. Also, they are in a vehicle that weighs a ton, which comes off as imposing and intimidating to the harassment recipient. Or they have a green light so they can proceed on their merry ways without fear of repercussions.

I repeatedly say this, any man who needs to hassle a woman trying to go about her day is a coward---the drive-by harassers more so. The men who do this mess out of their vehicles don't have the guts to bother a woman face to face. Do they not realize how tasteless it is to repeatedly honk their horns at a woman, or try to "mack on" a woman from their cars? It leaves a foul taste in my mouth recalling these incidents.

To quote from NOLA radfem's recent piece on street harassment, giving you the idea how I feel when dealing with drive-by harassers:

It means you are walking along, lost in your own thoughts. . .and some men in a truck drive by and yell at you, scaring you and leaving your heart pounding long after they've driven away laughing. . .[i]t means never, ever having the freedom to walk down the street, unmolested, safe, truly free and alone with your own thoughts.

And from Debs at Feminist Fire's piece:

[T]he men who did these things, will have moved on with their lives, in all likelihood completely forgetting about them, as if they are of no consequence. . .They have been brought up in such a way, and in such a world, that makes them truly believe they have an innate right to do and say whatever they want to women and girls, without consequences. The majority of the time, there are no consequences for the male, although there should be. The consequences for the female are deep and long-lasting, but why should women carry the burden of responsibility for men’s (supposedly the ’stronger’, more reasonable sex) words and actions?

These men do what the hell they want and get away with it, while being able to walk tall. We women have to internalize it and let it fester on the inside. Damn it, I'm tired of internalizing the pain of being a repeat harassment recipient.

Finally, for all the people who don't understand why I get on edge when these men feel the need to "compliment" me ("hey, beautiful," "hey, go-jiss [sic]"), here's my answer: BECAUSE I DON'T LEAVE MY HOUSE TO BE ON DISPLAY FOR THESE SORRY EXCUSES FOR MEN TO OGLE!!!! It is not any woman's job or responsibility to be a walking peep show for these losers. Every woman has the right to walk down the street, to run errands, to enjoy nature, to leave out to hang out with friends, without having their livelihood imposed on by these creeps. We have the right to be left alone.