Making a harasser feel uncomfortable

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.

2 Responses to Making a harasser feel uncomfortable

  1. Good for you. you give me courage to speak back too. The more of us who do it the less it will be tolerated…and you are brave and give me hope things can change!

  2. Golden Silence says:

    The more of us who do it the less it will be tolerated…

    Exactly! We need to keep drawing attention to this ridiculousness until people start to see it as a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. How can people turn their backs and act like nothing’s happening when someone’s getting cursed out?! What the hell! Are people that blind and deaf? Harassment’s become too normalized, and we need to show how abnormal it truly is.

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