Monthly Archives: November 2011

“Smile for me!”

I was walking to the metro, on my way to my job as a nanny, having an absolutely terrible day when I passed a group of guys who hang out on the block. One of them said “Good afternoon.” I ignored him, cranky and wrapped up in my head. He and some of his friends kept going. “Good afternoon! Hey! Good afternoon! Hey, baby girl, smile for me?” I completely snapped and yelled back “Fuck you! It’s a shitty day! I don’t have to smile. You don’t have the right to tell me what to do!” They started laughing and made fun of me until I was around the corner. I’m worried now that in the future if they recognize me the harassment will escalate.

Submitted by Izzi

Location: 7th and M Sts. 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.

Flipping the Bird

Speedwalking in a nice dress to my ushering gig at a downtown theater this afternoon, I encountered a carful of grinning guys, who courteously slowed down in the middle of the intersection to greet me with some semi-intelligible but almost certainly charming commentary on my body and movements. Accordingly, I flipped them off and went on my way.

Afterward, the guys almost certainly forgot immediately. I, on the other hand, spent the rest of the walk mulling over the incident, wondering: “Was I too harsh in flipping them off? Maybe they were saying something useful and I was a total jerk. I should check my purse for items that might have been falling out, and see if my dress had ridden up (no on both accounts). On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I heard the word ‘ass’ once if not multiple times . . .”

What’s wrong with this picture? While flipping the bird isn’t perhaps the most constructive response, it was an expedient way to express my displeasure about the uninvited aggression, which is essentially what street harassment is whether its practitioners are aware of that or not. I just hate that I spent so much time afterward wondering what/if I had done something wrong, when I was really not the one who needed to be doing the reflecting.

Location: Thomas circle (Mass & 14th NW)

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

Submitted by Anonymous

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.

Just Being Cautious

Late last Saturday night (3am-ish), My husband and I drove a friend over to Chinatown to get his car. En route, we saw a large man bear hugging and lifting what looked lika a nearly-naked, struggling woman from behind. I slowed down, and as we get closer, we saw him try to shove her into a car. I said, “aw hell NO” and pulled over.

We popped out of our car, and my husband asked the woman if she was okay. The man accused us of being racist for thinking he was hurting her, and told us that we should mind our own business. (I will not identify the race of any person in the story, because to our minds, that was 100% irrelevant.) Thankfully my husband did not engage the man, but instead calmly waited for the woman to answer – at that time, we noticed the woman’s friends (who were sitting in the same car the woman was being put into) who spoke up and said that the woman was very drunk (which was clear) and that this man was helping get the woman into their car. He did, then got into his own car, at which time they drove off separately and we felt comfortable leaving.

I had a very dear friend in college who was forced into a car, driven to a remote parking lot, then raped repeatedly for the better part of an evening. So, as I said, we didn’t care who the man was, we simply, collectively, refused to turn a blind eye to a situation that looked as sketchy as that one. I believe in the social contract – even if I’m wrong, I’d rather break up a potentially bad situation, rather than pretend I didn’t see it.

Location: NY Ave & 6th Street, NW

Time of harassment: Late Night (12A-5A)

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.

Hey Sweetheart

I was crossing the street when a man leaned out the window to yell at me. “hey sweetheart. Hi sweetheart.” when I didn’t respond, he yelled “just say hi. Just look at me “. When I still didnt he screamed “fuck you” and drive off, but not before I heard him call me a bitch for not acknowledging him.

Location: 10th and Florida NE

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.

Shape or Size Doesn’t Matter

Last Thursday night, I was meeting a friend for a movie at E street and had to change to the red line. I was walking towards the metro platform at Chinatown when I heard a sort of clicking/sucking noise coming from behind me (sort of similar to when someone makes a “tsk” noise with their tongue and their teeth).
I turned around to find a man leering at me, smiling with an open mouth. Annoyed and grossed out, I walked on.

What was more infuriating was when I got to the movie theater, and shared my frustrations with my friend. At first, he seemed to sympathize but then asked, “So what, was he gross or old? What did he look like?”

I was so annoyed that I just stared at him. I tried explaining that his appearance didn’t matter. I wasn’t annoyed because of how the guy looked; I was annoyed because I was harassed and can’t do something like go on the metro without being bothered by a stranger.

I’ve heard this argument many times, that women are only offended when the harassment comes from a man of a certain stature or appearance and are flattered when it is a young, attractive man. I have been harassed by men of all shapes and sizes. Guess what? Every time, I feel grossed out, irritated and belittled.

Location: Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro

Time of harassment: Night (7:30P-12A)

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.

“Hey Baby!”

I was walking my dog down R St. and was in the middle of the block b/w 13th and 14th when I thought I had heard a hissing sound seemingly out of the blue. As I turned my head a man on his bike smiled as he realized he got my attention, laughed and then said “Hey Baby.” Still staring at him b/c I was still processing the harassment, his smile turned to a growl as he continued to pass me by with a an angry “Fuck you bitch!” at my lack of response. When that happened I immediately looked around to see if anyone else was close by and that’s when I felt threatened as I did not see anyone on the block. But he continued to bike on as I continued to walk my dog, and think, that as a person who is currently struggling to deal with PTSD that I do not feel safe in my own neighborhood.

Submitted by VLL

Location: 13th and R Sts, 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.

An Open Letter….

An open letter to those dozen people walking by 18th and california nw sunday at 3:10pm,

Go to hell.

A woman yells “I need a cop, I need a cop” and you do nothing. You don’t even approach to see if my wife and i are being physically threatened by that man. He was following us, hissing in vulgar terms about us going to hell and that men eat pussy better. We were afraid and you did nothing. I even tried to protect your son from him, I told the man there was a child across the street and to watch his language.

I hope we didn’t disturb your lovely afternoon.

Make no mistake, there is a campaign of terror, of threats of violence against women and lgbt citizens, across this city. I shouldn’t be afraid to leave my neighborhood, but I am. You saw something and said nothing, and it hurt me more than that vile man. you’ve reminded me that, despite your undoubted liberal leanings and token gay friends, my family and I are alone on these streets and we shouldn’t count on you to stick your neck out.

Once we have kids of our own, we’ll have to teach them that you people are easily scared. A kid need an adult but you might not help. We’ll tell them to scream for help anyway because it can scare the bad guy off. Our kids will grow up tough but alive and prepared for just how selfish and scared you really are of how hard our lives are. You may find it unpleasant to believe these things happen in our “one city”, but it goes and you should care.

So, again, on behalf of myself, my wife and our future children, go to hell.

And the next time I see you getting hassled, I’ll still come over and even call a cop. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.

Submitted by Cathy

Location: 18th and California, 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.