DC could learn something from Madrid

October 27, 2010

Some good new to share for a change:

I’ve lived in DC for the past 4 years, and have posted here many times about what horrifying, vulgar and threatening street harassment I’ve encountered in our nation’s capitol. At the end of August I posted about my experience being attacked and sexually violated by a man in Columbia Heights.

The experience, especially after 4 years of extreme harassment, left me feeling exhausted and terribly vulnerable. I had just been accepted into a program where I’d be teaching English in Madrid, Spain for 3 months, and I felt terrified at the idea of going to a foreign country as a female alone after everything I’d experienced in DC.

Well, I’ve been here in Madrid for exactly one month now, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t had ONE SINGLE PROBLEM since arriving in Spain. I walk all over town every single day, and I’ve yet to hear a harassing word or sound uttered at me, nor have I received a single leering look! If the men here are admiring me, they are being utterly respectful and classy about it. I feel remarkably safe, and have even had a few men that I’ve met through meetup groups offer to walk me to the metro if it’s late at the end of the night, just to ensure that I am safe.

I can’t express how relieved I feel. The idea of returning to the exhausting world of DC street harassment upon my completion of this program is off-putting indeed.

I just thought it deserved noting that in Madrid, Spain, then men are actually NOT behaving like depraved animals toward lone women on the streets. DC could learn a little something from this city, and from this culture.

– B.

Location: Madrid, Spain

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.


A man on a bike grabbed my ass

June 22, 2010

Tonight while walking home in my quiet well-lit neighborhood, a man on a bike grabbed my ass. As it was a narrow sidewalk and he had to squeeze past me, it took a minute to realize what had happened. He grabbed my ass! There was no doubt it had been intentional — he turned around and grinned at me. Twice. The entire time I was so surprised that all I could do was glare.

Even now I’m not sure what I should have done. Yelled at him? Made a scene? Ignored him?

– anonymous

Location: 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.


Yuppie Harasser – Power Play

April 14, 2010

Today, a 20 to 30-something white male in a business suit harassed me near the corner of 14th and T Streets NW in Washington DC at about 9 A.M. He was clearly going to work and was in a hurry. The man decided to cut the corner and walk in front of me and my dog. At the same time, my dog saw a bird behind the man and walked towards the man. I stopped my dog, but my dog’s first reaction to walk towards the man caused the man to have to pause. Apparently stopping was too much of an inconvenience for the man. He glared at me and came closer to me. I apologized for my dog and told him I was working on the dog’s behavior around birds. Then, the man kept walking the other way, towards his destination, and after he was about 10 steps away, he yelled back at me at the top of his lungs, “There’s something else you can do. Control your dog!”

First I felt humiliated but then I felt angry, helpless, and disgusted. There was nothing I could do to tell him that his behavior was inappropriate and infuriating. I also became very aware of the power differential between us. He’s a male and I’m a female. He was wearing a business suit (a sign of his higher class status) and I was wearing workout clothes which did not necessarily reveal anything about my class status. I thought for a split second that if I were a male in a business suit I would have followed after him and told him that he was a coward for yelling at me while he walked away. I was shaky and unsteady on the inside. Then, I tried to focus on my dog. My dog had sat down politely and was waiting for my next cue. I thought about how I wanted to enjoy the nice morning and spring air with my dog and didn’t want the harasser to ruin my morning. I took some deep breaths, tried to acknowledge my anger and move on. I suppose I partially succeeded for the r est of my walk, but I am still feel angry enough that I immediately came home and looked for this website to share my story.

– E

Location: 14th and T Streets NW in 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.


“I felt like a lab specimen”

April 9, 2010

I’ve already dealt with several street harassers this week. I thought the bulk of my harassment was  over. But nope, that was only the beginning!

When I boarded the bus to go to my studio for a workout, these boys sat near me (one of them sat next to me). I tried to ignore them but they were so obnoxious. They were making commentary about the girls walking outside, and it was tacky. (I’m sure my looks got rated by them as well.) I excused myself to move away from them when I heard what sounded like the click of a camera phone. Did these clowns just take my photo?! I heard snickering and giggling after I moved.

A few moments later, a woman boarded the bus, and the boy who I was previously sitting next to started patting on the now empty seat next to him while checking this woman out. I had had it with being quiet and had to say something.

“You do not respect women,” I said. “No respect. I saw you checking out those girls outside, I saw you checking out that woman who just boarded, and I know you took a picture of me.”

These boys denied any wrong doing. The one who took the photo claimed it was a gun application on his phone.

“My phone makes that same clicking noise when it takes photos,” I said. “You’re lying.”

Then they changed their story and saied that they were taking pictures of each other. And when it came to checking out women, first they denied it, but then they said they were “grown men and had the right to check out fat [phat?] asses.” So which was it? Either you were ogling women or you weren’t.

I started taking photos of these boys (and a video that came out too poorly to post), and they got pissed.

“Yo, this bitch is taking our picture!” they yelled. (Though only two are pictured, there were actually three of them. One was sitting on the other side and out of the camera’s range.)

I felt like a hypocrite for a moment, and yes, those boys let me know that I had no right to complain about them taking my photo when I did the same thing.

They repeated it and then the bus driver yelled at me to “stop taking pictures. You can’t take pictures on this bus!”

Since these boys were full of lies, I decided to lie back. “I erased the photos,” I said. “Let it go!” (Obviously I didn’t really erase them.)

But they refused to let it go. They started making comments about me, calling me “ugly,” “bitch,” and even calling me a “faggot.” They did running commentary about what I was doing (“Ooh, look at how she’s moving her mouth!” “Look at how she’s trembling!”) and told me to “shut up, mind your business” and “Don’t you have a book to read?” What assholes.

Then other passengers jumped in. A woman on the back of the bus yelled “Bitch, that’s my man you’re messing with. If you touch him, I’ll beat your ass!” The whole bus looked at me and laughed. I felt like a lab specimen. It was a sick feeling.

The boys finally decided to stop clowning on me, but this was one stop before I got off so it wasn’t much relief. I think the boys got off at the same stop I did, but I didn’t bother to look behind me and thank god they didn’t try to get the last word or action. I’m just upset that I didn’t get the bus number or the route number (the 30-Line buses all go the same direction to Friendship Heights, and I rarely take notice of which one I board when I do).

When I got to my studio, I wanted to cry. I was so shaken up and didn’t deserve what I went through. But since most of my friends tell me the same garbage of “You should have ignored it,” “You need to get a thicker skin,” and “Why do you always have so many problems and get into so much trouble?”, I didn’t want to say anything about it. I survived my workout and those horrible feelings had left my system, but I took the train home afterward and when I got off to transfer at Metro Center, a guy waiting to get on the train looked me up and down and said “Mmm…beautiful!” All that anger came right back and I immediately called him “Ugly!” in response.

I feel like my freedom of movement is long gone. I can’t go anywhere without some man making commentary about my looks, and when I reject them, they get aggressive. And I’ve learned the hard way that no one will jump to my defense and help me when I get into a bind with harassers. The peanut gallery will either gawk, stare, laugh or turn their heads and ignore it.

I am tired of these men and the bystanders treating me like garbage. It makes me feel so worthless.

– “Tired of Being Harassed”

Location: One of the 30-Line buses going towards Friendship Heights, 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.

[Editors note: For people paying attention to the photos posted with the stories lately, mostly they have been of African American men. This does not mean men of other races do not harass women. Men tend to harass women of their own race the most and the blog contributor who has submitted the stories w/the pics is African American.]


Metro rape reports “got lost in the shuffle”

April 2, 2010

I take the Washington, DC, metro to and from work every weekday, so I have general and personal outrage over this report from the Washington Post:

“There have been four rapes on Metro property this year, up from one last year, but unlike assaults reported elsewhere in the Washington area, at least two of the crimes were not immediately made public.

Metro officials gave differing accounts of why the public was not informed about the crimes. Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said on Tuesday that the police deliberately withheld information on two assaults that occurred in the parking garage of Largo Town Center in February as they searched for suspects. However, Peter Benjamin, chairman of Metro’s board of directors, said information on the attacks “got lost in the shuffle” during the February snowstorms.”

Once there is a report, how hard is it to notify the public so they can take necessary precautions/be aware of potential threats in that area?

HollaBack DC! just wrapped up Public Transit Awareness Month in March and they have more to say on this disappointing news story.


“Can’t even go on a coffee break…”

March 26, 2010

Yesterday I was walking across 17th St. (at the intersection with K St. in Washington, DC) on my way to meet someone for coffee. As I stepped back up onto the sidewalk from the street, a guy on the corner said to me, “Hey there, beautiful.”

I just ignored him and continued walking by. After I got past him, he said, “F*** you!!” I was scared to turn around and say something because what if he decided to get violent after using such violent language and tone?

I ignored him again and was a little shaken by the time I got to the coffee shop.

– anonymous

Location: 17th and K 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.


Outrageous harasser on the morning commute

March 24, 2010

Photo by contributor

I board the bus heading to work this morning. The driver wishes me “good morning,” I return the favor, tap my SmartTrip card and head to the back of the bus where I find an available seat. I get lost in space as I read my book.

At Rosslyn, a man comes on the bus, looking mad as I don’t know what. He’s rambling, cursing about this or that, and just gives me this bad vibe. He sits two seats down from me, clumping his backpack down between us really hard. He pulls out his paper, cursing while he reads.

He says something to me, but I ignore it, thinking he’s saying something ignorant. Then I chose to move away from him, and he gets pissed.

“Fuck you,” he says. “When a black man tries to talk to you, you run away, but when a white man talks to you you smile and get all happy. Stuck up black bitch! You love the white man’s dick. You’ll suck a white man’s dick! You ain’t shit anyway. You ain’t got no ring on your finger. Ain’t no one want you. And you got knotty dreads – nasty. You probably ain’t wash yo’ dreads ‘cuz you afraid…”

All this nonsense when I was trying to read a damn book!

I pull out my phone…

“Go ahead, call someone! You ain’t got no one to talk to,” he says.

…and take his photo in the rare moment he wasn’t looking. Then I head to the front of the bus, away from this fool, and ask the driver to call the police.

“This guy is on the back of the bus cursing at me for no reason at all,” I said. “Telling me I suck white man’s dick and other nonsense.”

The guy walked up front from the back of the bus and starts saying more crap! He’s directly behind me at this point.

“I opened a window and she got all scared and moved away!” the crazy man yelled. “I tried to ask her about the window and she ignored me and moved away.”

“I didn’t realize you opened a window!” I said. “You were sitting at the back of the bus, cursing and ranting, talking about me sucking white man’s dick—“

“Watch your mouth!” the driver snapped. “You two need to stop.”

Why was I getting blamed? I didn’t raise my voice or curse, and I was only repeating what the guy had been saying to me.

“Go ahead, cry and whine to the driver,” the crazy guy continues. “You all fine until someone insults you, then you want to cry like a baby.”

“I am not crying,” I said, calmly. “You don’t see me crying.” This was so frustrating.

The crazy guy goes to the back of the bus, still ranting and cursing, and a nice gentleman gave up his seat in the front of the bus so I could get away from this guy. I had the foresight to have Metro Police’s number on my phone, so I called them, described the guy, told them the bus route and bus number, and where we were located at. Sure, the driver can tell me “good morning” but he’s pretty much useless for anything else.

The crazy guy got off a few stops before I did, so I called Metro Police back to let them know that.

“You’ve just gotta stay humble,” the guy at the front of the bus said. “Guys like him are everywhere. All you can do is keep your cool, don’t let it get to you…” and stuff I was just too distracted to take in at the moment.

When I got off the bus I thanked the guy and told him to have a good day. Yet I feel numb. I’m just so used to being sexually harassed that I’m surprised I didn’t start getting angry, or cursing, or crying or showing some kind of emotion. All those people on that bus just sat there and watched me get cursed out and called names because I chose to ignore a crazy lunatic on the bus. Is this like Pay-Per-View or morning entertainment to them?

Things need to change. Not only do harassers need to be held accountable for what they do, the people who sit idly by and watch this stuff happen need to do so as well.

– anonymous

Location: 38B towards Farragut Square (Bus #2600), Washington DC