Monthly Archives: July 2009

CTA Bus Drivers have Problems with the New Harassment Policies

Photo by Daquella manera via flickr

Since WMATA doesn’t have its own anti-sexual harassment PSAsor published information about how WMATA employees should handle and respond to sexual harassment on our trains or buses, we follow what is going on in other cities and we LOVE to askWMATA, “what the heck? why are we so far behind?”

Last week we reported on the new policies implemented in Chicago. Thanks to some amazing young activists, the CTA told operators to tell perpetrators to stop their behavior and if needed, call for backup.

Apparently the bus drivers are not so thrilled about this new policy. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

The head of the CTA bus drivers union said drivers can’t be expected to defend passengers from sexual harassment without proper backup from transit managers and Chicago Police.

“You’re putting our people in more harm by directing them to get involved in curbing harassment on a bus when you’re not offering them any protection,” said Darrell Jefferson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 241.

Jefferson was responding to initiatives the CTA unveiled earlier this month to curb sexual and other types of harassment on CTA trains and buses.

Jefferson said he didn’t mind the policy — he wants passengers to be safe. But he doesn’t want bus drivers to get into trouble for telling disruptive passengers to knock it off, and he wants police to come promptly when called. Read the full article here.

What do you think, Washingtonians? What kind of anti-sexual harassment policies and PSAs does WMATA need?

Experiencing Public Sexual Harassment is Exhausting

I get sexually harassed on a daily basis in DC, so for me to post here regularly would get laborious. But I recently had one of the worst episodes so far, and I thought it was worth sharing:

It was about 10am in the morning, and I went to my porch to wait for the plumber that was a block away. I was standing in my doorway in casual board shorts and a generic tank top, hair back. Basically my grubby pajamas.

There was a lot of traffic on my street (P & 10th NW), so cars were halted. I noticed a man in a van was trying to get my attention by motioning with his hand that I should come toward him. With the other hand, however, he was making a “V” with his fingers, and very specifically using his tongue to graphically imitate vaginal oral sex. I was in such shock and so horrified that all I could do was stare in disgust rather than simply walking away like I usually do. Moments later, he changed the “V” hand to a fist, and started bobbing his head up and down over it, imitating a blow job, all the while using the other hand to motion me over toward him.

Because I had just filed a police report the night before about someone that sent me a text message of their erection, I was feeling particularly vulnerable and intolerant, so I screamed “Do you want me to call the cops, @sshole?”

–To which he laughed and screamed back, “No, I want your p*ssy!” before driving off.

I know people say we should just let these experienced roll off our backs, but when they happen day in and day out, and you are a female alone in the city when they happen, it really wears on you. I was so disgusted, and felt so violated that I simply broke down crying in frustration.

It is truly exhausting how often I experience this type of thing.

Location: P & 10th NW

Submitted by Miss B

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

2.5 Years of Harassment

Photo by dizzy-miss-lizzy via flickr

Photo by dizzy-miss-lizzy via flickr

This is my first time visiting this site, and I’m very relieved to know it exists. Though it seems to be a forum where we can only preach to the choir, I’m glad to have it as a sounding board.

I moved to DC 2.5 years ago from California, and have been harassed more within those 2.5 years than I ever did in 28 years of life in CA. I literally cannot ever walk anywhere in the city without several sexual comments being thrown my way. Some are more innocuous than others (i.e. “hey baby, work it, girl,” and general whistles and kisses), but the greater majority of the comments are extremely graphic in nature, borderline threatening, and always have the effect of making me want to either never leave my house or wrap myself in potato sacks when I do.

It is extremely upsetting, and I have even considered leaving DC because of it. It makes me feel unsafe, it makes me feel violated, and it can sometimes even depress me for days depending on the incident. I avoid certain streets entirely on my way to work, taking the longer route instead, if I know I’ll be targeted somewhere specific. I either change my clothes or throw on a huge sweatshirt before walking to the grocery store, since I always get targeted there. When I need to walk somewhere and can do neither of these things, I put my headphones in, even if I don’t want to listen to music, and blast my music just so that I won’t be able to the disgusting things that are being said to me. I realize that all of these tactics are consistent with victim behavior. But given that “fighting back” only seems to exacerbate the situation, I’ve resorted to them.

It’s upsetting me more and more the longer I live here. It’s getting worse, and I don’t know what to do anymore.

Location: All over DC

Submitted by Anonymous

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

Out of control!

Street harassment is OUT OF CONTROL. Apparently i cant walk down the street in spandex pants to the gym. Two guys in a white delivery van were hanging out their window yelling “damn, you looking sexy today” and honked at me and then some douche on a bike rode by and yelled “work it girl”.  I’m sweating and walking to the gym. How is that sexy? I guess just walking in the city is sexy.

Location: Dupont Circle

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.

Creepy Driver

This story was submitted to our friend over at Stop Street Harassment.  Since it happened in DC, we are cross posting it.

I was walking from my house to the Potomac Avenue Metro station in DC on a hot Saturday afternoon, unusually dressed up (for me) in shorts and a cute tank top to meet up with friends at a small party. A guy driving a silver SUV said something to me along the lines of “hey, you’re looking fine.” Inappropriate compliment by total stranger, bleh. But then, he kept driving extremely slowly and kept talking to me. At first, I think I just glanced at him and kept walking, I didn’t say anything.

When he kept creeping along beside me, I started to get nervous. I was near my trusted corner dry cleaners, and abruptly turned and went inside the cleaners. I told the lady there what was going on, and just chatted for a few minutes. I waited until I saw the creepy guy in the silver SUV finally drive away before going back out to the sidewalk. I shouldn’t have to duck inside off the sidewalk or feel afraid to get a little dressed up because of creepy guys harassing me, but this episode reminded me why I don’t even try to look cute more often. And it’s always worse in the summer when wearing a skirt or shorts or (gasp!) exposing arms or shoulders.

Submitted by Anonymous

Location: Near the Potomic Avenue Metro

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.

WMATA, Groping on the Metro is a Problem

Photo by thisisbossi via flickr

Photo by thisisbossi via flickr

I was in a crowded train and felt something behind me. At first I thought it was a bag, but then it definitely moved. The guy behind me was groping me. I ran off at metro center and got on a redline train. He followed me on the train and aggressively grabbed my butt before jumping through the open doors. This was not the first or last time I have been physically harassed on the metro, but it is one of my most distinct memories. Some of the stories I hear sound like we’re living in Cairo and not the nation’s capital. It’s embarrassing and it’s time WMATA did something.

Location: Blue Line to Metro Center

Submitted by CM

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.

Harassment = Not Funny

1st warm day of Spring. I didn’t want to ride on “Frat Row” but the main drag was completely shut down by partying students. When I was riding on a particularly dangerous segment, a car of boys came alongside and one grabbed my butt. If I had fallen (most people would have-I’m a very experienced rider) I would have been squished between the car and a 2 foot high curb. I memorized the license plate. The police considered it sexual harassment; male co-workers considered it funny; a lawyer friend said I should have approached it as assault with a deadly weapon (the car) because I would have been seriously injured or killed. The follow up investigation: I was shown a group photo of the fraternity whose member owned the car and I had to identify from that – as if I could. I sure wish I had more aggressively pursued the case.

Submitted by AS

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.