A little positivity:
I had an experience recently that seemed like it might end up as a negative, degrading street harassment experience. I am very tall, and dressing in shorts and skirts (even long ones) for the hot weather has produced some gross commentary about my legs. However, the other day, I was walking down L street under the Convention Center overpass when I saw two teenage boys walking toward me.
My heart sank – these boys looked like they had just gotten off work; they were in matching uniforms, that were untucked, and were joking with each other like they were blowing off steam. They also fit the physical stereotype of street harassers that, hard as I might try to ignore, I often get confirmed in my experiences in DC. I prepared myself, but something great happened:
Looking me straight in the eye, both boys said “Hello.” I replied, “Hi.” Then, without saying anything insulting, or commenting on any specific part of my body, they paid me a compliment.
“You look great!”
I smiled, said thank you, and went on my way. They did not call after me, or comment further. I felt like an attractive person who had been seen as a whole person, not a collection of sexual objects.
And, yes, even this level of attention could be considered harassment for some. It is important to acknowledge that some women don’t want strangers to comment, even respectfully, on their appearance. I am usually one of those women; I am made uncomfortable by such comments. However, I felt this was an overall positive experience.
(And before the commenter who likes to suggest that positive experiences come because women are attracted to harassers, and that’s the only difference, let me say that I’m in my 30s, and not interested in teenagers. What made this experience positive was exactly what I’ve said above.)
Submitted by K on 8/19/2010
Location: L street between 7th and 8th
Time of Harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)
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