I find street harassment such a difficult subject, not because what I experience is particularly harrowing or serious, but hard to handle because of the nature of my job. I work as a Police Community Support Officer in an estate. When I am not with my beat partner, and especially in the summer months, I experience a great deal of shouting and very inappropriate comments. In an ideal world, the uniform should make me ideally placed to deal with these situations. In actuality it makes it so much more difficult. When someone makes these comments, as a female, you have two options, either to ignore it and walk away, which makes you the weaker sex, admitting defeat and allowing that behaviour, or you confront the person in question, which makes you a shrew, someone who is clearly over-reacting and that as a female is clearly only a step away from hysteria. Either way, you are normalising the harassers’ behaviour. In uniform this becomes so much worse. Should I ignore it, scuttle away and look meek and timid in front of the people that I am supposed to be policing? Or do I call them out on it, look like the heavy handed arm of the law, and possibly make a large incident out of what started as an inappropriate comment. I cannot imagine myself having to call for a van to pick up an offender because they cat-called me – “well sarge they said they wanted to pinch my arse.”
I am lucky in that most of the time I am with my beat partner, and on the rare occassion that someone will call out when he is there, he normally responds with a “oh you’re too kind”, or, “i’m taken sorry mate”, which is the best way yet of diffusing the entire situation.
I hate the way that as a strong independent female, doing a job that takes resilience and strength of character in incidents of street harassment it is clearly a no win situation. It seems all i can do is cross my fingers for a shift in culture.
– Anonymous m
Location: Southampton. United Kingdom