I have many street harassment stories….it happens to me almost every single day. But I really want to share a positive experience I had yesterday!
I was on the sidewalk about 10 last night, walking home from the metro station. I noticed a man crossing the street and walking in my general direction. He caught up to me as I turned the corner, but he made a point to walk in the middle of the street rather than staying close to me on the sidewalk. After about a block, he arrived at his car and nodded to me as I passed.
I kept walking, realizing that this man (a) recognized that a woman walking alone at night might reasonably feel unsafe if an unknown man were to walk too close, and (b) adjusted his path out of respect for my comfort.
A minute later, he drove by, and pausing across the street from me, he said through the open window, “Ma’am, I just wanna make sure you’re OK.”
Floored, I responded that I was fine and almost home. I told him that as a woman walking alone at night, I had noticed and appreciated his effort to give me ample space. Then, he said he’d stay where he was and watch to make sure I got home OK, if I didn’t mind. As I approached my building, I turned and nodded my thanks. He responded with a polite beep of his horn and drove off.
Sir, I know you’ll probably never see this, but just in case you do, thank you. Thank you for being aware of how your presence might affect a woman walking alone on a dark city street. Thank you for making me feel safe by keeping an obvious and comfortable physical distance. And thank you for going above and beyond to ensure that no other stranger on the street would have an opportunity to steal my sense of safety, for at least that one night.
Most days, I hear things like “Hey baby,” “What’s a sexy little thing like you doing out here all by yourself?” and “you better stop bending over before somebody gets excited.” I can’t describe how refreshing it was to be treated with such consideration and respect by a stranger.
Location: Congress Heights neighborhood, Washington, DC