Don’t call me Sweetheart!

April 28, 2010

Just when I thought I could go almost two weeks free of nonsense!

This morning, I left my apartment to head to work and there was a moving truck outside. Three people (two men, one woman) were trying to help the truck park outside the apartment.

I continue walking, and I hear a loud “HAVE A NICE DAY, SWEETHEART!” barked at me. It was one of the moving men.

“Don’t call me sweetheart!” I snapped, not missing a beat.
“I was just trying to tell you have a nice day,” the guy says.

I hate when they do that. The same thing happened with another guy who was in front of Rosslyn Metro a few weeks back. He says the same thing, I had the same response, and his answer was “What? I can’t say hello?”

It’s as if these men are in denial of their actions. Did you not just call me “SWEETHEART” dummies? It’s not the fact that you said “hello” or “have a nice day” to me, it’s the fact that you had to call me “sweetheart” along with it. Do you not remember doing that?

In both instances, when they had “Can’t I just say hello?” or “I’m just trying to tell you to have a nice day!” responses, I responded back with “If you wanted to say ‘hello’ you would’ve just said hello” and “If you just wanted to wish me a nice day, you would’ve just said ‘have a nice day’.” These men are dense beyond reason.

Dear men who feel obliged to tell women they don’t know to have a nice day: Feel free to tell us to have a nice day, but don’t call us “sweetheart,” especially when we don’t know you.

– Tired of Being Harassed

Location: Arlington, VA

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

“Don’t shy away – speak out!”

April 27, 2010

Lebanese activists work on anti-harassment campaign, image Via Google

“Don’t shy away – speak out” is an anti-sexual harassment campaign launched by activists in Lebanon to address the problem in public places and the workplace.

“Raghida Ghamlouch, a social worker with the non-governmental Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women, said Lebanon’s social fabric does not encourage victims to speak out.

‘Lebanese society is still macho and systematically places the blame on the woman,’ Ghamlouch told AFP.

‘Women are told it is their fault if they hitch a cab off the street, if they are dressed a certain way, if they come home late, and so forth,’ she added.

‘And for women who are adults, it is even worse: They are accused of having deliberately provoked the man.’

Another factor that silences victims are Lebanon’s unjust laws, which do not explicitly consider harassment a crime.

And a convicted rapist in Lebanon is let off the hook if he consents to marry his victim.

‘Even police mock women who come in to their station to file complaints of harassment or domestic violence,’ Hashem said….

‘If the complaints increase, perhaps then the authorities cannot discount it,’ Hashem said. ‘Perhaps then they will see it is a real problem.'”

So clearly the activists have their work cut out for them and their work is very much needed!

It’s crazy how world-wide victim-blaming for gender-based violence is, huh? From Egypt to India to the UK to the US of A and now Lebanon…I am tired of hearing that women are to blame!

Anyway, bravo to the Lebanese activists and may they help break down the culture of victim-blaming and empower women to come forward against harassers.

Ladies only at all times

April 27, 2010

Malaysia is launching “ladies-only” cars on the KTM Komuter train for the Sentul-Port Klang route. Naturally there are pink stickers and banners to designate the cars as ones that are “Ladies only at all times.” And unsurprisingly, this new initiative is in response to men sexually harassing women on the train.

Segregation on public transportation is not a novel idea. In fact it’s becoming a worn out one. Let’s place the blame and the action on the perpetrators, not the women who are the targets! So here are some novel ideas, brought to you by me, off of the top of my head:

  1. Bar men who harass women from riding the trains.
  2. Give men who harass women citations and make them sit in men-wh0-harass-women cars.
  3. Give all women who ride the train mace to use on men who harass them.

In all seriousness though, check out the subway anti-sexual harassment campaigns occurring in Chicago, NYC, and Boston, which do not place the blame or the onus to avoid harassment on women. Let’s have more of that!

When men are in a group

April 26, 2010

While bike riding with a friend this afternoon, two men in a car honked their horn and shouted “nice ass”. My companion was female but I wonder if I were with a man if this incident would have occurred. This type of thing seems to happen more when “men” are in a group or with another man. It disgusts me how often this type of behavior happens.

– anonymous

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

Oregon shrubbery harasser

April 21, 2010

I am on a business trip and after I checked into my hotel this evening, I went for a run. I like going running new places. I was on a dead end street off of a busy one when I heard a man’s voice, “Hey girl, run girl, yeah you better run girl!” Then in an increasingly aggressive and louder tone of voice, he started yelling, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!”

My heart started pounding. It was an otherwise deserted area and a location unfamiliar to me. I turned around to see who he was and maybe confront him, but he was hidden from view behind shrubbery. As his aggressive tone sunk in a bit more, I felt frightened and I sprinted back to the main road and made my way back to my hotel, trying not to cry.

It may not sound like that big of a deal, but it’s really shaken me up, especially since I am now in an empty hotel room in a new state across the country from where I live. This incident has made me feel vulnerable as a woman out in public on her own and that makes me really mad. I have every right to be in public and not be harassed and frightened! I’m not going to cower and hide and not go for a run or travel by myself but in this society, I know that comes with a risk of being harassed or assaulted by scary, disrespectful men 😦 It makes me so ANGRY!

Shrubbery where the harasser's voice was coming from

Anyway, I drove back there in my rental car and took a quick picture from my window. It’s only of bushes, but it marks the spot.

When will women be safe?


Location: Clay Street SW, Wilsonville, OR

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

“Afghan scuzzball”

April 20, 2010

In an Afghan-owned grocery store that sells Middle Eastern and South Asian products. I was shopping, minding my own business, and this absolutely scuzzy sleazy-looking Afghan guy, unshaven, unkempt, shirttail partly hanging out–you get the picture–says behind me “Hey, beauty, where are you going?” I ignored him, of course. He followed me through an aisle full of Islamic religious items, saying “Where do you live?” as I continued to totally ignore him. Then he sneaked up behind me when I was about to get in the checkout line, and said “Want to go with me?” as he bumped his whole body up against mine from behind.

So I wheeled around and shouted out loud “Leave me alone! Don’t touch me! Get away from me!” I had taken harassment silently innumerable times before, but this time I just snapped. He was startled and backed off. There were several people around, including a store employee, who pretended nothing had happened. I paid for my purchases and was leaving when I noticed he had hung around behind me, waiting. If he had tried anything else, so help me I would have broken his ugly face. I took a women’s self-defense class taught by Lauren Taylor in DC and learned how to inflict severe injury on harassers if necessary. Anyway, he didn’t follow me out of the store and the incident was over, except for the work I had to do within myself to recover from it.

I’m Muslim myself, and I’m seriously pissed off how the extreme sexual segregation in Islamist fundamentalist societies raises men in total isolation from women so that they never learn how to behave properly. There was nothing in that sicko scuzzball’s behavior but open hatred and aggression toward women. He assumed because I’m Muslim that I would meekly submit to harassment. I hope I taught him a lesson.

– JbH

Location: Herndon, VA

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

Making a harasser feel uncomfortable

April 20, 2010

M Street in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC is a magnet for harassment. The last time I remember NOT being harassed while on a lunch break was when it was raining on Tuesday. Something needs to be done about these trolls.

I was heading back to work, and I saw these two punks hanging out on the street, bothering a woman who clearly wasn’t interested. They were leering and checking her out. I stepped in and said “Ugh! Nasty!” to them.

“You [sic] ugly!” the shorter one said. “Ugh to you!”

I then pulled out my phone and took a photo of the guy and his friend, as well as a video. Of course, he’s bold when he’s hanging out checking out women, but hides under his coat when the attention’s on him.

I yell at him to not harass women as I film the (short) video, and he can be heard yelling “Stop harassing me!” back. He also yelled “I don’t care if you take my video!” (didn’t get captured on video), but apparently he did since he kept trying to hide!

As soon as I stop filming and headed on my way, he gets bold again. He uncovers his (rancid) face and follows me for a block, yelling that I was a “fucking ugly bitch.” “I’ll fuck you up!” he yells. Of course, all those people on the street either turn the other cheek or think it’s funny.

I started dialing 911 on my phone, letting him know I was calling the police. “Call them…I don’t care!” he says.

I got in touch with dispatch, but it was useless. I told her the harasser was on M between Wisconsin and Potomac yelling threats at me, then she asks me again:

Dispatch: “So it’s on Wisconsin…”
Me: “No, on M between Wisconsin and Potomac.”
Dispatch: “What’s it again?”
(me sighing)
Dispatch: “Ma’am, can you hear me?”
Me: “Yes…I don’t know why this is so hard for you to get!”
Dispatch: “I need an address…”
Me: “It happened on the street! There’s no exact address!”

The phone goes quiet and I hang up. DC’s MPD, useless as usual. Besides, all that time it took between that exchange the harasser got away.

With all the harassment I’ve been through lately, I’m surprised I didn’t feel like crying this time. I was annoyed, exacerbated, and fed up. I don’t know why I keep standing up to harassers when no one steps in to help, when I keep opening myself up for more harassment, and when nothing seems to change. When I had a brief moment to think about this, I realized that I’m not going to change my reactions to this, regardless of the outcome. I need to keep drawing attention to this nonsense until things change. While I couldn’t get a shot of his face and couldn’t get a soundbite of this guy calling me a “fucking ugly bitch” on video, I at least have something to show. Also, it made the harasser uncomfortable, just like it made that woman. If he thought what he did was right he wouldn’t have hid himself. I will keep taking their photos and videos until things change. I hope other women who look at this site and other street harassment sites feel empowered to do the same.

– “Tired of Being Harassed”

Location: M Street, Washington DC

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.