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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Community Safety/Street Harassment Workshop Tonight at 6:30

Bumping this up so those who are interested can attend. There is an optional donation fee if you are interested in attending.

This message came from a community list serv:

Dear Neighbors:

We would like to invite you to join us for a community safety workshop led by Marty Langelan on Thursday January 31st at 6:30-9:30 pm in the basement meeting room of the Washington Community Scholars' Center at 836 Taylor Street NE.

We have room for about 5 more people in addition to the students in our program. Please email me by Tuesday if you would like to attend. The cost for Marty's workshops is normally $50 per person, but we are asking for a contribution of $25 (or less if you can't afford it) to help cover the cost.

Marty Langelan's workshops focus on positive actions that promote respect toward all members of a community and encourage cooperation between neighbors. Marty teaches how to respond to harassment in the street and the workplace, and how to prevent violence and escape a dangerous situation if you happen to encounter one. Her workshops are appropriate for women and men, including seniors and older children.

Marty is an engaging teacher, martial artist, and community activist. She has taught workshops in neighborhoods throughout DC. In May 2006, Mayor Anthony Williams recognized her lifelong work on violence and human rights with a proclamation declaring "Marty Langelan Day" in the District of Columbia.

Marty is an adjunct faculty member of American University, and she is past President of the DC Rape Crisis Center.

Doug Hertzler
Associate Director
Washington Community Scholars' Center
836 Taylor Street NE Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202-529-5378
Fax: 202-529-0704

I really hope I can attend this event (I have a conflict on Thursdays). I own and have read Martha "Marty" Langelan's book, Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers. It is a good and informational book on how to counter street harassment. I remember sitting at a restaurant a few years ago waiting for my order and I had the book sitting on top of the table. I had to educate some man on what it was about. He kept referring to the book as "Black [sic] Off!" Okay. . . .

Anyway, if you're interested in attending this, please contact Doug at 202-529-5378. The address for the event once again is 836 Taylor Street NE, located in Brookland (Brookland/CUA on the Red Line).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Keep On. . .

This one's from J.J. in Seattle:

Hey there. I have been reading your blog for months now. I live in Seattle, and lucky for me, we don't have to deal with much shit around here. Every once in awhile, I get some dude screaming out of car window about my tits, or some guy on the bus wanting to "get to know" me... It's annoying enough, but it doesn't hit me every time I'm trying to go to work, or just trying to come home after a long day. Lucky for me and my friends, Seattle (or at least my neighborhoods) are pretty safe and as harassment-free as a city will ever be. But I feel compelled to tell you, I think it is SO IMPORTANT that you are doing what you're doing... recording your experiences, and refusing to be silent, refusing to just take it. I know so many women who have been through countless experiences like those that you describe (mostly in East Coast cities, not sure why that is...) but they feel that it's just part of being a woman on your own, that there's nothing to be done about it. I tell them about your blog, and tell them to talk back, to not be afraid, to own their power. Knowing that there are women like you out there fighting makes me so proud. Keep it up, girl, and never let them get you down. They can annoy you, but those little pieces of shit can never touch your strength, your power, or your beauty. Fight on!

Thanks for the kind words. I truly appreciate it.

I've been researching different cities, and the consensus is that street harassment happens less there than it does in places like DC. I started posting at a forum for the US cities, and left a message about street harassment for a specific city I'm thinking about. They reacted as if they didn't know it existed. Also, they said that since it's more of a car environment than public transportation one that there aren't too many men hanging out on street corners harassing women.

I wonder if DC were a car culture if it would happen less. The men would be in cars as opposed to hanging out on the streets. Women would be in cars and wouldn't have to walk past a battery of insults from these losers. But in the same token, as stated in J.J.'s note, there are losers that like to yell from cars.

I know that there is a place safer and more female-friendly than DC --- I just need to find it!

Post-Anti-Street Harassment Rally Harassment

Here's a submission from Alexandra:

Dear Golden Silence,

Thank you so much for creating this blog and creating a forum for people to vent their frustrations about this issue. My story is kind of ironic because my friend and I had just got back from an Anti-Street Harassment rally hosted by Empower DC. We were in Chinatown and three guys started yelling "Hey baby" and "Come here" at us from across the street. When my friend and I ignored them they started shouting the usual "Oh you think you're too good for me" and crossed right in the middle of the street and started following us. We yelled back at them to "leave us alone" and "would you talk to your mother or sister like that?" Luckily some guys intervened and stopped them but just to be safe we decided to walk a couple of blocks out of our way. I was so angry I had gone from feeling in empowered by the rally to being really pissed, scared and upset. Again thank you again for your blog.

It sucks to feel so empowered, feeling like you can put an end to street harassment, just for some punks to ruin that mood. I'm glad you two stood up for yourselves, and also glad that there are guys out there who realize that this is not the way for men to act and who stepped in.

I wish there were a way to put a mirror in front of these men, tape them, just show them how pathetic they look and sound when they act like this. Harassers, ask yourselves: What do you truly expect to gain from this?

As for the high you felt from leaving that rally, don't lose it. Keep positive that one day street harassment will come to an end.

On a Cold Winter's Night

It was freezing cold out last night. One bus I normally take wouldn't be there for another 20 minutes; the other one 40. It takes me 20 minutes to walk home, so I opted to brave the cold as opposed to waiting for a bus that may or may not come on time. Cold as it was, the fools on the street were still up to their old tricks.

As I left the train station, some man in a parking lot would not stop beeping his horn at me. I acted like he didn't exist, though he wouldn't stop.

Walking down the main street, some guy crossed the street (yep!) and tried to talk to me.

"Hello, schweetheart," he said. Yuck. I acted like he didn't exist. Then:

"Can I roll wit' you?" Ugh! Now was time to use O's advice to me in a previous post.

"No, you may not. Have a good night," I said sharply, still walking.

"Can I get your numba?" In one ear, out the other.

Still walking, I replied to him one last time:

"I said 'No, you may not.' If you don't stop bothering me I'll call the police."

He says "huh?" and some other crap, but at least he stopped trying to follow me and talk to me.

I got closer to the spot where to 'Loitering Losers' normally hang out.

There's no way in hell they'll be sitting out here in the cold, I thought to myself. They're not that stupid. Yes, they are that stupid. Three of them were out there hanging out and acting like idiots. I got nervous, but acted like they too didn't exist. I walked with a purpose alright: To get out of this cold-ass weather and inside, into the shower to get that martial arts class sweat off me, and to have a hot dinner and get away from these fools!

The LL's got quiet for a moment, but I'd rather them be quiet than acting loud and pestering me.

I made it home in one piece, thankful that the cold didn't kill me, and I survived another night of street harassment, handling it pretty well might I add.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Where's Chris Hansen When You Need Him?

Just my luck. The other day the 30-Line buses were running as usual (i.e., never on time, clumped together, falling apart, raggedy, etc.) and there was some nasty old fool on it --- and he was talking to teenagers. Nasty.As.Hell. He had to have been in his 50s.

I was sitting in front of his row at first. This one girl had the displeasure of sitting next to him. (The bus was crowded and there was nowhere else to move.)

Man: "What school you go to?"
Girl: (She names school --- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give out personal information to strangers, especially creepy ones!)
Man: "What grade you in?"
Girl: "Senior."
Man: "Really. You look young. . .you look like a sophomore."

I glanced back at them. I was going to make sure nothing went on. This was a funky situation.

He seemed to be leaving her alone, but then I hear the girl yelling:

Man: "What you say, girl?"
Girl: "I said 'STOP LOOKIN' AT ME!!!!!!'!"
Man: "I ain't tryin' to do nothin' to you."

I jumped in.

"Leave that girl alone!" I yelled. "No one wants your old ass talking to them! You should know better talking to a girl a fraction of your age!"
"I wasn't talkin' to you," he replied.
"I don't care!" I yelled. "When creepy old men try to talk to girls and women who don't want to be bothered with them it makes me sick!"

The woman in front of me jumped in. "Leave that man alone," she said. "Ignore him."
I can't sit there and ignore this creep hassling a teenager.

A seat freed up and the girl got away from that loser and reunited with her friend. She then pulled out chips and started to eat them. (I know, not legal on Metro, but that's not the point.)

"Ooh girl, gimme some chips," he said.
"Leave those girls alone, you old-ass fool!" I yelled. The girls laughed.
"Ain't doin' nothin," the man mumbled. "I ain't tryin' to do nothin' and someone always gotta say somethin'. . ."

The woman in front of me chastised me again. "Seriously, I'm warning you. Leave.Him.Alone. He gets violent."

At "he gets violent" I then kept my mouth shut. As soon as that woman got off the bus, I moved in her previous seat.

I thought everything would be calm for the rest of the ride, but a group of teenage girls in soccer uniforms boarded the bus. The old coot found new targets.

"You just gettin' out a game?" he asked.
"Yes," they all answered in unison. Why these girls feel the need to respond to this loser is beyond me.

A stop or two later he finally gets off the bus. You know he's a problem passenger when the other passengers applaud his exit.

"Thank god he's off the bus," I said.
"I know," the woman next to me said.
"Targeting teenagers!" I said.
"He was on the bus since Pennsylvania Ave and acted like that the whole time," the woman replied. (We were in upper NW at the time, so that's too long to deal with idiot behavior.)

That loser should've been kicked off the bus much earlier. It sends a nervous feeling up my spine that he's sitting there trying to "holla" at teenage girls. He thought this behavior was normal! Typical pedophile. And I cannot get over the fact that these girls felt the need to talk to him. Never give out personal information, ever!

I hope he's banned from riding the bus in the future. Make his ass walk from Pennsylvania Ave. to upper NW.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What Brown Shouldn't Do For You

I have no control over the creepy old guys who feel the need to tell me how pretty I am, but I do have control over how I react to them. For the past few days I've been acting like the ones on the street don't exist. Walking past them like they're background noise. For instance, some man bumming for money on the street completely ignored two couples that walked by him (probably because they were couples, not solo like me), but when I walked by he says "Hello, my beautiful angel." Ewwwwwww. Next.

It's one thing to get hit on by creepy guys on the street, but it's another when it's a man in uniform---our regular office UPS guy to be exact.

I was getting on the elevator and he was about to get off it. He puts his arm in the doorway to keep it from closing on me (polite) but then says, "There you go, beautiful" In.That.Tone. Sigh.

I tell him "That's unprofessional. You're in uniform. You shouldn't be hitting on me on the job. That's not cool." He acts professionally when he delivers our packages, so why should he change his demeanor when we're alone? Luckily for me he apologized and was polite about it.

Here's a response blogger Aileen left in my previous post:

I have to admit, I've had thoughts of worry about you personally on more than one occasion. It appears you are consumed with this issue (I hope that's not the case). But it seems like you are filled with rage and frustration and I know you are trying to "gain control" over the issue with this blog and with the movement you've started, but is the price too high to you personally?

DBS was formed as a replacement for HollaBackDC, which is now a "spam blog" (thanks to HollaBack Talk for that term). It was a way for harassment recipients and I to vent about dealing with street harassment. Because only street harassment is discussed here, many people misconstrue that as being "consumed" with it. Trust me, I'm not. When street harassment happens to me, yes, I'll post about it. The rest of the day I'm thinking of other things: work, martial arts, my online class, my favorite music and TV shows, meeting with friends, etc. So no, street harassment does not take up my life. It happens to me too damn frequently, yes, but it's not my main focus in life.

Also, I became an unofficial "street harassment activist" --- it fell into place, I guess. I get questions from people asking me what to do in this situation or that one. I honestly don't have all the answers and am learning myself. This blog is an educational experience for not only for the readers, but for me as well. And in my unofficial role, I have been starting to get the ball rolling on making the DC streets safer for women, like with our idea-exchanging meeting last month.

So for those who think I spend too much time on street harassment, look at it this way: If someone doesn't step in and do it, who else will?

(PS: Don't worry for me. . .I'll be fine.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Street Harassment Photo Album on Flickr

Here is a new photo album someone started to collect photos of street harassers.

There's only one but it's a definite start: In Detroit, some clown with a Slurpee in his hand is going "Move those hips." Yuck.

Also, thanks to HollaBack Talk for linking to DBS.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why me?

I am so sick of being singled out as a target for street harassment, catcalls, etc. Let me get about my day in peace, please!

Today I wore a shirt tunic, leggings/stretch pants, a sweater, leather boots and a leather jacket. I boarded the train at Fort Totten this morning and as I was walking towards the entrance some man looked me up and down and yelled "Girl, where da rest of your clothes?" in my ear. I don't think there's anything revealing about my outfit and I've worn it numerous occasions. (I'll post a photo of it later for proof.) I told him "Fool, please!" but that was not enough to get rid of the annoyance and invasion I felt.

When I arrived in Georgetown for work, there were Georgetown BID street cleaners hosing the street. I needed to walk past them and the one guy stopped his friend so I could get through without being hosed. That was nice, but then he had to go and ruin it:

"There you go, l'il mama," he said. Ugh.
"Excuse me," I said. "My name is not 'l'il mama.'"
"Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am," he said. Sorry, ma'am." Now he was acting like a petulant kid. Then he had to smirk at me.
"Do you see me smiling?" I said. "It's not funny."

The light changed and I could finally cross the street. His friend with the hose said something, but I couldn't hear it with the hose running, nor did I care to. I'm offended because it's just another intraracial "black man with no regard for black women" situation. I highly doubt he'd call a white woman or an older woman "l'il mama." It's tacky, disrespectful, and just flat-out rude and condescending. I know what he looks like, but that's not enough to call the Georgetown BID and file a report. If only I got his name or badge number (if he has one). ETA: I just called the BID anyway. I had the approximate time and the location, and that was enough.

It's hard to concentrate at work because I can't get this mess out of my head. These men just ruin my attitude and my day. Why me? Why do they have to single me out? I'm just trying to go about my day with no problems or trouble, but they have to say something. I don't walk around with a sign that says "Harass me! Condescend me! Devalue me!" I wish they'd learn keep their mouths shut by counting to three if they have nothing of substance to say. Leave me and other women alone. Keep your gratuitous thoughts to yourselves.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Non-Accidental Bump

At, a forum on Natural Black hair care, one of the posters wrote about being bumped into by some creepy guy, who then followed her and tried to hit on her. (You must be a registered user to view it.) It makes me sick to my stomach that men think this is the "normal" way to attract a woman's attention. You're getting attention alright - the negative kind. No woman wants or needs your nasty ass touching her in any way that's inappropriate.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Keep it in your pants, dude.

Cristina at Eckington DC Living sent this post about getting flashed (again!) by some idiot with too much time (and a limp dick) on his hands. Ugh...nasty!

He's apparently a sad loser with no self-esteem if he feels the need to do that. Gross.

Response to "Intraracial Tension"

O sent me this well-written response to "Intraracial Tension":

I'm a little late on the scene. Just read your intra-racial tension post. I have been through the same situation in the past, and I have regretted my reactions in the past. As a black woman I definitely understand how ignorant black people really wear on your nerves the most.

I'm fairly new to this city and have noticed that the DC harassers are slightly more aggressive than where I am from. However, when dealing with harassing black men, one thing has worked consistently well for me. It is especially effective if your harasser(s) ask a question - any question… Can I talk to you for a minute shortay? Can I walk with you baby? Even most statements (hey, slow down pretty lady, lemme talk to you for a second) can be answered in a way that stops the harassers cold.

If I am walking upon them, I always look them squarely in the eye, if but a swift moment, and reply with a firm "No Sir!" If I’ve already passed them, then I don’t turn around, but I make sure they can hear me as I continue walking: “NO SIR!” Don’t ask me how I figured this out – probably being sarcastic one day. But if anything can throw these fools off guard, it’s giving them “respect” in the face of their own ignorance. It has the effect of a low voltage stun gun. I call it the “verbal broken windows” theory. After saying this, I've never received a "stuck up *itch" or anything else out of they way. In fact, I can’t say that I’ve never heard any response from a harasser simplex-1. They are rendered speechless and confused enough for me to put a good distance between them and myself. Sort of works as a very quick way to let these people know WHO you are (as the guy blogger who's lived in Egypt before suggested): One to tolerate absolutely no crap from them.

The point is to never, ever stoop to the harassers' level. Don't let them bring you down, even one notch. Calling them a name (even "ignorant") would be doing so, and thus, quite ineffective. And certainly don't ever let them know what you're thinking (even if it’s a plea for them to go find some constructive reading material lol) as these aggressors only use that to try and find another inch.

Note: this does not work as well for the harasser simplex-2.B – the (drunk) bum-wanting-money. It is best to say nothing at all and refuse eye contact with them.

My two cents.

Happy New Year

Thank you, O. I am trying my hardest to come up with new methods to handle harassers. And I tell you, I'm sick of having struggles with people of my own race. We should be able to get along.

Friday, January 4, 2008

First DBS Submission of the New Year...

...sigh. Days into the new year and it's already happening. When will these men ever quit bothering women? Here's the submission, from an anonymous contributor:

Last night I was walking to Border's Books at 12th & E Streets NW and a block or so before I approached the intersection, I removed my iPod and placed it into my purse. I had a fleeting thought cross my mind about how doing this increased the likelihood of being harassed by some creep but dismissed it as I was almost to Border's. I have noticed that street harassers (on the metro, in the streets, etc.) seem to take a lack of iPod or lack of a phone conversation to mean that a female is "available to approach". Within seconds of taking it off, some man lurking in the shadows said "Hey, baby." I wished the stupid light would hurry up and change. He said it again, in a leering, gross kind of way. The light changed and I crossed the street, making a point of looking preoccupied and busy. As I approached the store I turned to the left and saw that he had actually crossed the street and was ten feet or so up the sidewalk. He said, "Hey baby, why you gotta be so mean?" He continued with his commentary but the wind drowned him out. I paused and nearly made a comment to the effect of "Women are not required to acknowledge strange men on the street, nor are they required to walk around looking friendly for your benefit," but the freezing wind, my continuing fruitless search for 2008 Moleskine softcover planners, and my disgust with this jackass just made me ignore him.

Once again, the new year's barely started and these clowns are up to their old tricks. I'm so sick of them with their "Hey, baby" and "Why you gotta" this and "Why you gotta" that. They need to realize that they have no control over women's actions. They need to stop loitering on street corners, stalking women and leave us the hell alone.

So much for a harassment-free '08.

ETA: re: Lack of iPod, headphones, cell, etc.---It doesn't necessarily deter harassers. I cannot count the number of times these fools would still try to talk to me when I was on the phone or listening to music. I was in Dupont Circle last spring sitting on the fountain's ledge and my phone rang. This fool came up to me with that "Girl, can I talk to you?" mess! I gave him a "Fool, please" look and got up and walked away. He then proceeds to go to the CVS across the street to stand there, beg people for money, and stare at me. Nut.

Even telling them "I'm not interested" is no deterrent. I told someone I wasn't interested in what he had to say and he was still trying to talk to me. "Girl, I love you anyway!" (shudders)

Someone jokingly made a comment to me via e-mail that there should be a "charm school for harassers" to teach them how to be more respectable and better-mannered gentlemen. It was only a joke but I think that is an idea to truly consider implementing. These harassers need to learn manners and respect.