Monthly Archives: May 2009

Number Man

Why is it that we can’t just go to a bar to have a good time?

Photo by Kat... via Flickr

Photo by Kat... via Flickr

I was out with my friends this evening [HBDC! note: Friday evening] dancing and generally having a good time. At the first bar we went to, a guy started dancing with me. He said he didn’t want things to end after tonight and I said I was just out having fun. Apparently he took offense to this and said, “So, have I passed your test?” At the next bar we went to a similar situation occurred but this time the guy said I had disrespected him because I told him my friend and I were leaving (which we were) and that I did not want to give out my number. Because we did not immediately head for the door he thought I was being disrespectful and actually started arguing with one of the guys we came with.

Why is it that if a woman dances with a man she is expected even obligated to give him her number? Why do some guys feel that if you dance with them they have some claim over you? If a woman is interested in a man she will let him know. If she is not she will also let him know. Either way, no one should be pressured to give their number or any other personal information to someone they just met.

Location: Adams Morgan Bar Scene

Submitted by NN
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“Don’t tell me to f’ing smile!”

Photo by Ronnie R via Flickr

Photo by Ronnie R via Flickr

It’s not new, this is not the first time and it won’t be the last. Returning from dinner at a friend’s house, I was entering the Eastern Market metro last night around 10:30pm and there was a group of guys hanging out near the entrance. As I walked past them, one called out “hey girlie, smile.” I ignored them, and they continued “I said, SMILE!” “Why don’t you smile, you’d be prettier?” “Don’t forget to smile.” I didn’t respond because the last thing I wanted was for them to follow me down into the metro, but someday I will. This happens all the time, day and night, in downtown DC, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, everywhere. I want to go up to them and say, “Don’t tell me to f’ing smile! You don’t know me, so don’t talk to me and why the hell should I smile at you? All you’re doing is making my day worse by harassing me!”

Submitted by KF

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Why?

I hesitated to share this story because I felt embarrassed – ashamed even – that I was sexually harassed twice in one week. I am the woman who was accosted by the naked man in a ski mask masturbating on Monday night on P street. I went to talk to a therapist on Thursday morning to try to get past that horrific event as soon as possible. We had a good session and planned a series of sessions starting next week for me to undergo EMDR: a non-invasive psycho-therapy that is often used to help dull unwanted recurrent images. This technique is considered an effective treatment for trauma by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and is often used for veterans with PTSD.

I left the therapist’s office Thursday morning excited about the prospect of starting this treatment next week and started walking toward the Silver Spring metro to go to work. I was almost to the metro when a young male walked towards me and reached out, grabbed and squeezed my crotch. I felt so defeated that this could happen to me right after my therapy session, which I scheduled to get over what another man subjected me to on Monday night. Nevertheless, I was angry and spun around and yelled at the top of my lungs at him “What the #%&* are you doing? I’m calling 911 right now!” He responded “I’m so sorry, maam” as if that would make up for it. I dialed 911 and he started walking away slowly.

911 didn’t pick up right away but when they did, about 5 minutes later 3 police officers showed up and split up to go look for him. I told him he started walking down Colesville Road. They didn’t find him but filed a report under 2nd degree assault. I told them that if they found him I could identify him in a line up (he wasn’t wearing a ski mask like the other man) and that I would press charges.

I’m upset and shaken up for a number of reasons.
– I keep thinking why did this happen to me again? What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?
– I questioned what I was wearing – jeans and a long sleeve shirt on Thursday and knee-length shorts and a tank top on Monday – and I thought what if I had worn a cardigan? What if I had worn a baggier jeans? Could I have avoided this then? Even though I know it shouldn’t matter what you’re wearing, nothing could ever justify this, I was saddened to see myself falling into this self-guilt line of thinking that I have heard about my whole life but never understood because I had never experienced anything like this. I understand now. I don’t know why it happens but I understand how women blame and question themselves.
– After the incident Monday night on the P st. bridge I promised myself I would pick up some pepper spray immediately but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m just so mad at myself. If I had had the pepper spray I could have defended myself on Thursday morning and I would have had full legal cause to due so since he assaulted me physically. Also, I could have handicapped him long enough for the police to get there. Yesterday, afternoon I went to the hardware store and bought pepper spray and a whistle.
– Also, what’s wrong with men? Why are they so aggressive? Seriously, you don’t see women pulling this stuff on the street. You don’t see women taking off their clothes and masturbating in public or grabbing other people’s genitals in public places. Obviously, not all men are like this, but it is largely a problem caused by men. I think we make excuses that it’s our culture’s fault, or that men just have a stronger sex drive than women, but that’s not sufficient. We need a larger more serious dialogue on what’s gone wrong with these men because something is terribly, horribly wrong.

Anyway, I’m posting this in the spirit of sharing the story. Hopefully that will have a healing effect that I’m not keeping it all inside and that it’s not anything to be ashamed of. I was proud of myself that I was stronger in Thursdays incident than I was on Monday. I found the breath in my lungs to yell and I wasn’t as frightened. I’m going to start taking self-defense and if something like this ever happens again, and I pray it never does, I will be even stronger.

Submitted by Anonymous

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Red Line Thigh Gropping

Photo by Picture Perfect via Flickr

Photo by Picture Perfect via Flickr

While riding the Red line towards Shady Grove, a man gets on at Rhode Island Ave and sits next to me. Right away I notice this is odd, because there are PLENTY of empty seats in the car. I have my book out and am clearly reading, but he starts making small talk. The usual questions: “How are you today?” “How old are you?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “What station are you getting off at?” I’m a fairly passive person so I give brief answers, but then turn my attention back to my book. At one point he puts his hands in his lap, and the next thing I know the tips of his finger are on my thigh. I stupidly give him the benefit of the doubt, but sure enough, his hand creeps farther over. I pull my leg away and scoot as close to the wall as I can, and as soon as the train stops again I jump up and change trains.

To this day I am still INFURIATED that this man thinks he has the right to touch me; I’m also mad that I let him get away with it.

Submitted by Anonymous

Do you have a story you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All stories will be posted anonymously unless you specify.

What about sexual harassment, WMATA?

We found out about WMATA’s new PSA thanks to our friends over at Unsuck DC Metro.  WMATA launched this courtesy campaign last week to encourage local riders to practice proper etiquette.  The campaign launch coincides with summer and we know that sexual harassment increases as the heat goes up.  Although, we weren’t that surprised, we want to know why sexual harassment was not mentioned in this campaign that encourages proper behavior? Especially since we have documented cases of sexual harassment occurring on DC’s public transportation.  We also know that in the past, NYC and Boston have launched PSAs to raise awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation.  So once again we ask, What’s the matta WMATA? With so much stimulus money being spent on the Metro, (for more info go here), why is DC lagging so far behind when it comes to raising awareness about sexual harassment?

Check out this video and let us know what your thoughts are!

If you encounter any sexual harassment on our trains or the buses, we hope you feel empowered to share your story with us. The more stories we collect, the stronger our case will be that it is time for a campaign that aims to stop sexual harassment on the Metro.

Sexual Harassment on DC’s Public Transportation:

Serial Thigh Grabber

Orange Line Thigh Grabber

What’s the matta WMATA?

I wish I was more assertive.

Beep, Beep

Early Morning Groper

Kissing Sounds Make Me Gag

Do you have a story you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All stories will be posted anonymously unless you specify.

You Must Be the Perfect Victim

Photo by Unloveablesteve via Flickr

Photo by Unloveablesteve via Flickr

“But, I was wearing a short skirt.”

“I didn’t move after he touched me.”

“I should have yelled, but I didn’t.”

Common statements we hear from victims of sexual assault, including those individuals experienced gender based public sexual harassment. This notion of being the “perfect victim” is interwoven through our day to day dialogue of sexual assault to the legal system and, of course, pop culture. Now, this post is not going to analyze the “perfect victim” but rather challenge us in thinking why we need to continue to perpetuate this belief.

Over here at HBDC!, we don’t want you to feel like you have to fall in the “perfect victim” category. We don’t want you to feel that you should have been wearing pants instead of shorts or reported the employee or called the police. We have not been able to incorporate some of the tactics that readers are doing for safety or personal reasons. We would not expect that out of you or anyone. We strongly believe that sending us your story will liberate you, giving you more power to handle the perfect victim.

The other night, at Tryst, we were chatting with a fellow anti-street harassment activist. She told us, and we agreed in unison, that the power of storytelling in the gender based anti-violence movement is under utilized. We, as women and men who survive the daily walks with the barrage of attacks, should must continue to share these stories. Through our collective voice, the perfect victim will be destroyed, carrying away the burden of grief and guilt.

Photo by DilipMuralidaran via Flickr

Photo by DilipMuralidaran via Flickr

Podcasting Love

Photo by ganatronic via Flickr

Photo by ganatronic via Flickr

We had the pleasure of being interviewed by Laura, the mind behind Fully Engaged Feminism. She describes the blog and podcasts as written by a feminist for feminists to talk about feminism.

My goal, and hopefully our goal, is to discuss how the fight to end patriarchy stalls and sputters when there are other oppressive forces at work. Fully Engaged Feminism is about kyriarchy – defining it, exposing it, and looking at its force within activist spaces with the goal of ending their sometimes exclusionary acts. [link]

After a few technical glitches, we finally were able to meet up and have a very organic discussion about street harassment, this blog, and where we want to go with it. Listen to it here.  And, if anything, you can enjoy James Brown in the background.