Monthly Archives: July 2011

“No. I am not a piece of meat…”

Photo by Sweet One via flickr

Photo by Sweet One via flickr

Hey, y’all, I posted this on facebook and tagged Hollaback DC, but wanted to submit it the blog, too because I feel so great!!

I was just holla’d out outside the Potbelly at CT and L NW (on my way back from getting lunch at another shop) by bike messengers who are always making trouble. I turned around and said “No. I am not a piece of meat and I am not a sex object. I am a woman!” One of them got mad saying he was just telling me I looked nice, and I told him that he was treating me like an object.

He then told me I was a “nasty ass slut” so I flashed my wedding band and said “I’M MARRIED!” and walked away. Got back to my office and called the Potbelly and spoke with the manager, Frank. He was sympathetic and understanding. He said he had been dealing with this problem for 5 years, but he can’t get any help from the police or the golden triangle people and they’re not actually on the premises since they’re outside the fence area.

He also said the police tend to not want to do anything because they think these jerks should be able to say whatever they want, even when it turns into harassment and vicious name calling. I’d like to see what happened if the sister/wife/mother/daughter of an MPD cop got holla’d at.

Submitted by Kat on 7/27

Location: Connecticut and L NW

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.

I JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.

This morning I left my house to walk the 3 blocks to my bus stop. It is a particularly hot day in DC, and I am wearing a long red sundress. I sometimes hesitate to wear this dress because it tends to generate attention from men, (which in and of itself is a frustrating statement), but I feel pretty in it and it’s perfect for a hot summer day, so I put it on this morning.

I was a mere 1.5 blocks away from the house before a van turned the corner and immediately slowed as it approached me. Then, of course, the driver rolled down his window and began to try to get my attention as he coasted slowly along side me. When I stopped to look at him and tune in, he was smiling and saying “Oh, wow, beautiful, mmm, wow……..”

I looked straight at him, gave him a dirty look, and said “Please stop now– Women don’t like that!” He just kept smiling, and almost laughing, threw his hands up as if to indicate, “I’m sorry about that, but I can’t help it!” Then he chuckled to himself, and coasted slowly away until I’d disappeared around the corner and he couldn’t see me anymore.

When the bus dropped me at my metro station (New Carrollton), I was standing on the platform feeling annoyed and wanting to be left alone. But because I’ve developed an almost animal-like awareness of predators at this point, I could immediately sense one man in the crowd who was extra aware of me. When the train arrived, I made sure to walk down the platform to ensure that I got on a car that was not the one closest to where he was standing.

Not surprisingly, however, once I was seated on a train car far from where he’d been standing, he happened to walk onto that car as well. –And then, or course, he sat down on the seats directly across from me and began staring at me. I ignored him, and then I heard the inevitable “How you doin’?”

I didn’t even have the energy to say anything or look at him. I simply took a deep breath and ignored his question until I realized that I didn’t want to be silently leered at for the entire ride, so I got off at the next stop and entered another train car.
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“Get away from me, and leave me alone.”

As usual, the escalator into the Judiciary Square metro station was out, and I had to walk down the steps into the station. I was wearing very high heels, and the handrail was too hot to touch, so I was walking very carefully.

As I neared the bottom, a man passed me and said something to me. I was concentrating so hard on walking down the steps that I didn’t hear him, but when I looked up, I noticed him waiting at the bottom, and staring up at me. I immediately froze (about 5 steps from the bottom), and said: “Get away from me, and leave me alone.” He immediately responded “Bitch, I was just offering to help you down the steps,” and proceeded to launch into a tirade of profanities and threats. As we walked into the station, me a distance behind, he continued to turn around and yell at me. I was so rattled, and shaken, I was relieved to see him head toward the opposite platform than the direction I was going.

Maybe my initial reaction, having not heard his offer of ‘assistance,’ was a bit harsh, but when you’re harassed every single day, you become a bit defensive. No, I don’t need your help, and your reaction to my defensiveness confirms that you weren’t really interested in helping me anyway. A simple, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you,” would have sufficed. I really didn’t need the string of “F*** you, you stupid bitch”s that came after.

Submitted by Jenn on 7/22/2011

Location: Red line, Judiciary Square

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.

“Look, I’m sure you’re nice and not creepy and all…”

Photo by Shutter Bug Chef

I was walking a friend’s dog while he was out of town when a guy on a bike stopped next to me and asked me a few questions about the dog, which made me wary, but all in all, was no big deal so I engaged him. Presh golden lab, by the way.

Then he switched into questions about where I lived (I gave a vague “around here”), my name (gave a fake one), and what I did. It would have been awkward for me to leave, because 1) the dog was um, doing it’s business; and 2) I wasn’t exactly going to run away with the dog. It was the middle of the day, moreover, and I had a dog with me, so I felt relatively safe, just creeped out.

Then the dude asked “Can we be friends?” I responded, “Um, I don’t normally make friends with people I don’t know.” He gave me some crap about “But we could get to know each other and be friends!” I told him that no, I wasn’t interested in “being his friend,” nor was I going to give him my number, as he had requested.

He looked positively insulted that I wouldn’t give him my number or agree to be friends with him, and asked why not.

I thought about giving him some b.s. reason (e.g., “I have a boyfriend,”) but I figured that after years of street harassment and being cornered by “polite” men on the street who apparently don’t care or don’t know that they’re intimidating, honesty was the best policy.

I told him “Look, I’m sure you’re nice and not creepy and all, but lots of creepy men have approached me on the street in the past, and I don’t KNOW that you aren’t creepy or a rapist. I’m not saying you ARE, but I’m just saying I DON’T KNOW. So, maybe you should stay stuff to guys you see hollering at women on the street, because the less of that shit that happens, the more apt you are to be able to approach women in public without them immediately getting their guard up.”

He looked like he had never previously considered this possibility.

Blowing his mind felt nice.

Submitted by anonymous on 7/19/2011

Location: NY Ave area subdivisions

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.

Borders Creeper

About a week and a half ago, I decided to go hang out downtown so I could get out of my apartment. I headed into Borders to do some browsing. I went to the little catalog search kiosk and was typing in some keywords when a guy (early twenties, around my age) passed by me and went into a section nearby. He was nicely dressed and just looked like a normal guy hanging out in the bookstore. I glanced up for a second and saw him look at me but didn’t think too much of it and continued to search.

I headed to a section to browse and after a few minutes noticed the same guy walk again and look at me. I had a feeling that he was just trying to check me out, but I wasn’t interested, so I ignored him.

I went to a part of the section where there were some chairs. I was standing next to an empty chair with my back facing outwards and browsing when I felt someone walk behind me and sit down in the chair. I looked down and realized it was the same guy. I don’t remember if he was looking at me again or just pretending to sit there out of all the empty chairs in the area.

At this point I started to get uncomfortable and a little annoyed, so I quickly left and went to a different part of the bookstore. I didn’t see him for five or so minutes so I relaxed and continued to browse. But then he came back. He was wandering around the section I was in, up and down the aisles and looking at me when he passed by. At one point he got really close to me and was pretending to look at books, but out of the corner of my eye I could see that he kept looking up and over at me. He was kind of just hovering around. So I moved yet again. I was starting to feel anxious but there were other people in the section with us, so I wasn’t scared that he would physically hurt me or anything.

He kept slowly wandering away and then behind me and “looking at books.” So I got exasperated and looked up at him for the first time and just stared with a “what is your problem?” look. He looked surprised that I had noticed him and then walked away. I didn’t see him for ten or so minutes and was relieved, but then after that he came back yet again.

So I made a big deal out of slamming my book down and walking out of the store. He didn’t follow me out or anything, but I walked home really quickly.
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“And then he pulled out a gun…”

There is an extreme harassment experience that I went through about a year and a half ago that still impacts the way I live my life everyday. I walked into a store to grocery shop and left the store thinking I was going to be murdered. Here is my story:
On February 25, 2010, I entered Shoppers grocery store in Largo, MD, to do some shopping. I had been dropped off by my younger brother (16) and he went into another store in the shopping center. Now around that time I had been getting street harassed so much that I was literally scared to go anywhere by myself. I had asked my brother to come into the store with me but he said that he was going to McDonalds and would meet me later.

As I entered the store I scanned my surroundings and I saw a guy who was in an aisle close to the entrance (my harassment experiences causes me to this). I had my headphones in my ear but my music turned off.

Anyway, as soon as I entered the specific aisle I needed to go to I could hear someone behind me. Ironically now the guy who was in the aisle close to the entrance is now behind me as soon as I stop (interesting huh). He starts frowning and asks me in a rude tone, “Are you just gonna stand in the middle of the isle like that?”

I was baffled because I was the only one in the isle and I am only 5’4 and medium build. There was no way I could have been in his way. Based on all my harassment experiences I was pretty sure what was going on, he was trying to harass me. It was no coincidence that he was towards the entrance of the store when I entered and saw him and as soon as I stopped, he was behind me.

I calmly said,”You don’t have to talk to me like that just because I’m a woman. How was I supposed to know you’re behind me?”

As I was rationally saying this, the guy was mumbling over me, he then slid past me (without me moving an inch) and said, “Why don’t you learn to turn your music down and maybe you’ll hear.”

Now as I mentioned I had headphones but know music and the reason was because of stuff like this. I’m TIRED of guys harassing me and this one was using this as a reason to harass me.

He appeared to be an adult. Who is he to come into a store and talk to another adult like this? I then told him he was ignorant…you know what he did? He leaned forward and YELLS in my face that I am ignorant. At this point we had an argument because I was pretty damn tired.

I am so tired of males harassing me whenever I’m by myself. It has affected me to the point where I no longer feel safe and at that point I was 25 years old and had years of street harassment under my belt. This was not the first time a male had harassed me in the grocery store either, but this one was more aggressive and I was damn sick of it!

Anyways a crowd started to form because we were yelling at each other and I became embarrassed. I moved to another aisle and told him our conversation was over and you know what happened? He followed me into the next aisle with a big smirk on his face and continued to yell at me. That was IT!

I called my brother and vented about what happened and he was disgusted. I would always tell him about how guys would bother me in public and he always thought I was being dramatic. Well this time it happened with him being right across the street. This is where things got a little messy.
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Followed Up My Block

I was walking home around 2 PM when a guy started following me. I slowed down to see if he would pass me, and he came up next to me and starting hitting on me. He kept asking my name. I kept looking straight ahead and saying that I wasn’t interested in talking to him. Finally he turned (after saying “nice to meet you” and asking my name for the fifth time) and walked back where he’d come from; he’d gone out of his way to follow me up my block. One of my neighbors was outside washing his car and gave him the evil eye as he was walking away. Hopefully I’ll never see him around again…

Submitted by anonymous on 7/14/2011

Location: Georgia Avenue and Quebec Place NW

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.