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I wanted to share an experience with your readers and see what they thought. First, like many women in DC, I get hollered at all the time and I find it infuriating — I typically wear headphones (when safe) not because I need music 24 hours a day, but just so I won’t hear people yelling and honking at me on my walk to work.
Last week I was walking home from work and was approaching Scott Circle. A man walking a little faster than me began to pass me, gave me a great big friendly smile and said, “I just wanted to tell you I like your walk. I hope you have a great weekend.” Instead of my usual angry roll of the eyes or “Get some class, would you?” I found myself smiling back and saying, “Thanks” (to the ‘have a great weekend part’ anyway) — pretty rare for me.
Now, let me say that if some dude is ogling me from behind, I really don’t want him to tell me about it, and still found that part irritating. But there was something about the way he spoke to me that caught me off-guard, and in retrospect I think it was that, yes, he was “hollering,” but he also spoke to me like a fellow decent human being, and not his personal sex toy walking down the street. (Unlike this morning when I passed a guy on a corner who yelled “Oh baby, you sexy thing!” over and over in front of 10 other loiterers until I got half a block away.)
I guess this encounter made me feel that finding a solution to street harassment isn’t a zero sum game. I’ve often told harassers that “If you want to speak to me, just say hello, and ask if I’m having a good day, it’s really not that difficult.” And that’s basically what this guy was doing. He didn’t yell, he wasn’t trying to prove his dominance, and he certainly wasn’t threatening. So I’m sort of torn, but I do know that if every person who approached me on the street spoke to me like this guy, I wouldn’t be left feeling so rage-y at the end of my walk.
Submitted by HG on 8/8/2010
Location: Scott Circle
Time of Harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)
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