“Imma Make You Have My Baby”

Photo By Ed Yourdon via Flckr

All packed up and heading to the airport to watch my little brother graduate from high school, I walked from Adam’s Morgan to the Columbia Heights metro. I took the back way through my neighborhood to avoid being catcalled by the men generally hanging outside the Christ House on Columbia Road. Even though I have a few friends who live on that street and I like walking on the busy street in hopes of running into them, I often take the back way to avoid the calls.

Heading to DCA, I boarded the yellow line heading towards Huntington at Columbia Heights. Somewhere between there and U Street, two boys who had entered the train moved to the empty seats directly behind me. I could barely understand them and I only started paying attention because I could feel their words aimed at me. I had headphones in, listening to an album made by a friend for my birthday with my nose in a magazine. Their words got louder, the tone more arrogant and threatening. What were they saying? I started getting nervous. Did I turn off my music or could I suddenly just hear their voices, my mind no longer able to hear the music in my ears? I’m not sure. And then I heard, “[something, something] BABY doll. Yeeeah girl you know you can hear me. Awwww you playin all ignorant and shit?” I could feel his breathe on my neck. “Yeah, I’m going to cut you, make you have my baby. Aw bitch you just ignorin me. Imma make you ha ve my baby.” It continued.

I felt panic take over my whole body. A thick spike of fear raced through my spine, into my arms, through my stomach and down my legs. Their voices continued booming into the back of my ear. I never looked up but I am certain they were talking to me.

A small part of me was screaming to get up and tell these boys off. But I didn’t. I was too scared. They were talking about raping me and doing it openly in public. Right there in the middle of the metro. Remembering how WMATA has a poor history of not keeping women safe from sexual assault and knowing the amount of violent crime that occurs in the area, I decided on the safer choice to remain silent and concentrate all my energy on ignoring them. Besides, I had heard them mention something about Shaw and that stop was coming soon.

Pulling into the station, my eyes beating into the magazine, my face shaking with concentration and fear, the boys got off the train. Then my fear turned into rage and my eyes darted frantically back and forth between the young man sitting in front of me and the middle aged man in a suit sitting next to me. I searched for even an ounce of recognition. Did you just see that? Did you just hear them? My eyes and face pleadingly inquired. Nothing. The young boy sheepishly glanced over at me and quickly glanced away. There is no doubt he was petrified too. He just didn’t know what to do.

I turned again to the older man, my stare pounding and filled with anguish wanting to shout, Why didn’t you say anything???

But I didn’t. I just sat there silently. What good would it have done if they had said something anyway? If these boys were as dangerous as I had thought, sticking up for me probably could have put their safety in jeopardy too. I thought further and concluded that what these men could have done was acknowledged what had happened to me and let me know that it is not okay. That would have been the best and safest reaction to what had happened.

But they didn’t. And I don’t need them to anyway it just would have been nice. Anyway, I already had my mind made up that I would write a Holla Back DC post, so instead of wasting time thinking about what these men could have done for me, I spent the rest of my ride pulling together this post. Thanks for existing.

Submitted by Jeanne Brooks on 6/6/2010

Location:Yellow Metro between Columbia Heights and Shaw

Time of  Harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)

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

13 responses to ““Imma Make You Have My Baby”

  1. Golden Silence

    Jeanne, please know that the boys who said all those things are cowardly scum. They know how worthless they are and project it to the world in their horrid actions.

    I apologize that this happened to you, and I hate that people sat and watched this go down. Someone could’ve pressed the red emergency button, called Transit Police…something. But I agree with you when you say that maybe they were afraid those boys would’ve retaliated against them.

    Stay strong, and you have my support. To go through hell like that is scary.

  2. Jeanne, I’m so sorry you experienced this, and received no support or comfort from the people who were sitting around you. There is hardly an excuse for the fact that no one spoke up for you; the pain from this, on top of what you had already endured from your harassers, is another trauma onto itself. I hope you’ve been able to get a lot of care and validation from friends, even if you can’t get any accountability from the men who intimidated and threatened you. As frightening and difficult as it was for you to remain silent, I think you did the right thing. Your emotional and mental safety were already in jeopardy, and losing your physical safety on top of that would have made the situation much, much worse — protecting yourself and preventing the encounter from escalating was the only thing you could have done, and demonstrates a lot of restraint and strength on your part.

    Thank you also for sharing… having to rehash the incident in your mind by putting it into words must be very painful, but you definitely have a network of people here at HBDC that care about and support you.

  3. I’m so sorry, Jeanne! How terrible and frightening!

    The least the two witnesses could have done would be to start talking to you or something. It’s sad that people ignore things like this. I know it’s scary for everyone, but we should all be in this together.

  4. This is a horrifying incident, and no one should have to undergo such an ordeal. I wonder, however, what the commenters here would recommend the other two people, the silent youth and the older man, to have done in this case? Do you think these young thugs are any less terrifying to a middle-aged man than they are to a young woman? They run lose without conscience and terrorize us all. We could say the older man should have done something, but saying so would be to say he should have risked injury or worse. Noble, perhaps, but required? What do you think?

    • Golden Silence

      I wonder, however, what the commenters here would recommend the other two people, the silent youth and the older man, to have done in this case?

      Jenna brought a good idea up in her previous response:

      The least the two witnesses could have done would be to start talking to you or something.

      No one was expecting the bystanders to jump up and start kicking the boys’ asses then taking their names, but some show of support would’ve helped. They could’ve offered to call the police when those boys were off the train if they felt too unsafe to do it in front of them. Some acknowledgment that they saw what happened to Jeanne and were concerned about her well-being…something.

    • realistically, are those kids really going to beat up a man on a crowded train if he tells them “leave her alone”? sure, they may, and rest of the train may ignore it and the man may be hospitalized or die.

      but at some point everyone, and i mean everyone, has to stand up for ourselves collectively, for civilization and civility, against violence and sexism and misogyny.

      if everyone on that train who heard something said something, those kids would be off the train with their tails between their legs.

      if not now when and if not us who and all that jazz.

  5. That’s horrific. Jeanne, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Your response to ignore them was probably the best you could have done in that situation. Those men were truly cowards if they had to gang up to verbally harass a young girl. Know that you are the brave one, no matter how afraid you were, you did not give them the reaction they wanted.

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  10. It makes me furious that certain men still deny that this even happens.
    All too concerned with covering each others backs and leaving black women and black young female children open to this type of terrifying and daily abuse and still have the audacity to wonder why we have on the majority a lack of respect for them. *Shakes head* Sometimes they need to stop blaming whitey and look in the mirror.

  11. I was already shaking by the time I reached the end of this post — and then I saw your name. Jeanne, I’m so, so sorry this happened to you.

    And, YEAH, the man and the boy (anyone else on the train who wasn’t the sole target of violent verbal abuse) should have said something, anything to break the focus of the verbal assault.

    This is why when you see a man screaming at a woman in the street, you ask him directions to somewhere/anywhere — so he has to break the escalating focus on that woman. And yeah, he might get mad at you briefly, but he’s not going to haul off and punch you for asking where the nearest metro stop is.

    The other people in the train car should have looked the kids in the face and said “… no.” Or even rolled their eyes and sighed at them. Anything.

    Even if it didn’t stop them, one moment of reprieve for Jeanne, or solidarity in disgust as a freaking human being would have been nice/made it less physically terrifying for this person who is alone even though she’s in a metro car with other supposed humans.

    You don’t have to pick men who are starting trouble up by the scruff of their necks and toss them through a door to help the person they’re singling out for abuse — verbal or otherwise — just at least make an attempt at disrupting them.

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