Too Close For Comfort

 

Photo by Steve & Jemma Copley via flickr

 

While walking to Dupont with two colleagues – S, a woman, and K, a man – a gaggle of various express buses blocked the path across H Street NW from 14th Street. My colleagues and I, attempting to hold a conversation and navigate the crowded intersection, became caught up in the confusion and I, in particular, was not as aware of my surroundings as I would normally be.

It was at that moment that I felt a vague tickling sensation towards the bottom of my butt – too close to my crotch for comfort. At first, I thought perhaps I had backed up into someone or that one of my friends was playing a joke on me, both poor ideas since I had only been moving forward and the friends I was traveling with were from work and not nearly close enough to me to be so physical. Quickly dismissing those scenarios, I spun around to see a haggard man with few teeth in tattered grey clothing snickering at me. Suddenly, I felt dirty.

Then I lost it. I can’t remember exactly what I said in my rage, but I know I told him to “never fucking touch me again,” that what he did “was harassment,” and called him some variety of “fucker” name on several occasions. The man just made kissy-faces at me and laughed before staggering off to the other side of 14th Street.

“Yeah, go ahead and fucking laugh,” I shouted after him, sounding angry but feeling weak and defeated.

If anything good came out of this whole situation, it was that I discovered how much other people are disturbed by harassment, too. A lady near me asked what happened and responded with “That’s disgusting” when I explained. A man, also standing nearby, muttered something about “belting that guy.” S and K also asked me if I was ok several times on our way to Dupont. Receiving sympathetic responses from bystanders instead of apathy was heartening.

Still, I was violated by a stranger and I feel disgusting. Melodramatic as it sounds, it’s almost enough to make me not want to be touched by anyone for a long time.

Submitted by @sweetpearacer, aka Obie on 11/20/2009

Location: 14th & H St NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

4 responses to “Too Close For Comfort

  1. I know what you mean about not wanting to be touched. I’m so sorry.

  2. you should be very proud to stand up for yourself. not to dramatize, but you should consider talking to someone about what happened. your reaction is understandable, but it may last longer than you’d like. it’s okay to take your own feelings seriously, so please take care of yourself.

  3. You’re not disgusting.
    That man is.

  4. For the cost of a light tool belt, a geologist’s magnifying loupe, and a rock hammer, you could have a ready-made skull-penetrating hammer legally carried anywhere. Just sayin’…..

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