Dear PoP

“I was just wondering if you could do a post about sexual harassment on the streets? Walking between Petworth and CH and back Saturday garnered me no less than 9 comments, ranging from Que Puta to Hey White Girl come here! and so on and so forth. I don’t know if it’s the standard summer heat causing trouble or what, but I feel like tensions have been way up this week!”


Tired of being harassed.

From a follow up email that made me laugh (despite the serious topic at hand).

“I’ve been living in Petworth for over two years and aside from the time someone set a stolen car on fire outside of my kitchen window, this is probably the most drama I’ve had to date. ”

Dear Tired,
Unfortunately, I have recieved a number of emails along these lines over the past month or so. Ed. note: the emails I have received have discussed street harassment in Petworth, Columbia Heights and Shaw. It really aggravates me to know so many people have to deal with such unpleasantness. As I am very tough lad from the mean streets of Long Island I haven’t had to deal with this problem. But from talking to those who have dealt with it I can pass along what they’ve told me. Walk with authority but don’t look like you’re trying to pick a fight. Don’t slow down. If the comment is not outrageously rude you can smile, say thank you or nod but keep walking straight. If you feel threatened try and walk into a store or restaurant if you are along a busy street.  I’m afraid that’s all I have.


So for the ladies who have encountered this unpleasantness what advice can you offer? Is this type of behavior typically worse in the summer months?

135 Comment

  • On Friday I heard a black teenager tell a white woman that he hoped she’d get raped because she wouldn’t acknowledge him hooting at her. I found that really shocking in that, while I grew up in the 1980s/90s, even then we were so ingrained in segregation from generations past that a black teen talking about raping a white woman on the street would have started a fight immediately on racial grounds alone. It was really a shocking generational moment for me.

    and the gu

  • I agree with walking with authority. My general rule is just act like you don’t hear them and keep on walking. Also usually a good “No, thank you” to propositions works. Even if you have to do it a few times, and then if they keep talking I just go back to ignoring.

    Also no eye contact is a good thing.

  • Living in Shaw and walking around here, I would say that am harassed at least every other day… I think it is something that most men don’t think or know about because it simply doesn’t happen when they are around. I recently told a male friend some stories about times my roommates and I have been harassed in DC, and he was completely shocked.

    I could go into full-on feminist analysis mode on the subject, but I’ll spare you that… basically I find that my response varies greatly depending on the situation, and I think it’s really something where you have to go with your gut. If it’s a situation where I am vulnerable, like on a quiet street at night, I might smile, nod, or walk quickly by with my head down so as not to make them angry. However, if it’s on a busy street where there are other people around and where I could get somewhere safe if I had to, sometimes I’ll say something like “Excuse me, what makes you think you can talk to people like that? It’s really not okay.” There have definitely been times when I’ve lost my temper and flipped someone off or started cursing the crap out of some jerk, but I don’t really think that’s going to teach them anything, so I try to stay cool.

  • Sometimes I acknowledge comments, if they are along the lines of “hey” or “how are you doing.” I figure, okay, let me just give this person the benefit of the doubt and just say hi back. If it’s an innocuous comment like “I like your hair,” I say thank you. Nastier stuff doesn’t get an acknowledgment, of course.

    Sometimes I do wonder…I tiptoe lightly into this comment…if I don’t get the same kind of harassment that my white sisters receive because I’m black. I am not suggesting that white women somehow deserve that kind of treatment. But I’ve read quite often about very intense street harassment I haven’t experienced that my own self, and I wonder if it’s because maybe, as a black woman, I’m not as “novel” around here?

    It’s unacceptable behavior regardless. I’m not trying to defend it in the least. I just wonder how I’m usually able to get not much more than a “hey girl, how YOU doing” when other women seem to suffer so much more. The propositions I get aren’t much more than “lemme talk to you” and I don’t get much blowback if I just keep walking.

    Now of course, having said this, watch while I get harassed 50 times in one day…!

  • It’s ALWAYS worse in the summer. And it can get pretty threatening. I agree–no words, no smily, just pretend they don’t exist. Really frustrating. Often racial, too, sadly…. I sometimes wish some guy friends would walk behind me just to see what it’s like to be a woman trying to walk down the street in DC…

    And DON’T FEEL LIKE IT’S YOUR FAULT! I once was nearly raped while wearing an old tshirt and blue jeans, with my hair in braids, totally nonsexy–but sometimes, even still, it’s tempting to feel like if you saunter less or do something different, you can keep it from happening–but that’s just wanting a sense of control (totally understandable) it’s not actually true.

  • Just curious, how many of these comments are made by black or latino men to white women? I.e. how much of racism and/or different cultural standards is at play here? E.g. it does appear that in some latino cultures this is much more “ok” and women (sadly, perhaps) are so used to it they simply shrug it off or ignore it.

  • I’ve been told, but don’t know if this is true or not, that with the Latinos, sometimes if you stop and sternly say, would you say that to your Mother or Sister if they were walking by? Would you want someone to? That works a bit culturally. Don’t know if it works for white or black harassers. Or even if it works at all, just been told that before.

  • I used to get cat-called quite frequently while walking along Eastern Av in Takoma Park. Yes, it was much worse in the summer. Doesn’t the number of rapes increase in the summer? Remarkably, I noticed that I wasn’t hollered at as much once I moved to Petworth. The men I passed would just say “hey” or “how you doin” or something more neighborly like that. And to the question of race posted above, I have to say that it was mostly Hispanic men who hooted at me, and the Afr-American men seem to be just folks sayin “hi”.

  • I am really sorry folks have to put up with this. My wife, walking home from the gym has been called a white assed ho by a bunch of 9 year olds. I don’t think I have ever seen her so mad. My sense is that this is a case, once again, of parents not teaching children proper manners. In fact I don’t think parents teach children in our neighborhoods much of anything except how to have more children.

  • My problem is that I never think of the right thing to say until I’m already three blocks away.

    Anon 4:55 AM. I’d venture to guess that this is black or Latino men making comments to white women in the majority of the circumstances mentioned here. It is in my case at least. I’m sure that some of it is different cultural standards or norms. What trouble me is whether “we” as women should be expected to tolerate harassment in the name of cultural acceptance. I think it’s a case by case thing. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes its just an old drunk man saying “Hello beautiful lady” in a way that is uncomfortable but not necessarily threatening.

    Not to make light of harassment, but if you haven’t seen Angela Johnson’s bit on cat calls from various ethnic groups, it’s pretty hilarious. And spot on. (in my opinion)

  • Obviously I haven’t been the target of this, much. But I am surprised when I see a group of men do it from their employers truck or worksite. Has anyone ever tried going to the employer to complain?

  • my wife will not go for a run the neighborhood because of this.

    I think a lot of it is not meant to be harrassing, but it is a big problem.

    Thre is a blog about this as well

    and here is a big story on it

  • I guess it does also make a big difference whether you are called a “white assed ho” or “hey gorgeous” or being whistled at?

    Well, at least the latino men seem less likely to carry a gun around here so perhaps its ok them let them hear it and put them into shame right then and there.

  • i have two girl roomates (neither of which are hard on the eyes) and they deal with this bullshit all the time. what makes me so mad though is when guys will make comments and holler at them while im with either of them…those fools dont know if thats my gf, wife, sister, cousin, whatever, yet they still trash talk them like they have a chance of sweeping them off their feet for i dunno what..a relationship? quickie in the alley? dinner?

    has any female commenting on this post ever been won over by some skinny little bitch in a beater and backwards hat yelling things about how he likes your thick ass from his moms porch? i mean really, what are these idiots thinking?

  • cristobal, I must say that I have never seen some one yell at my wife, or roomate when I am around.

    My brothers wife has the same problem when he is not around.

    Please do not take this the wrong way, but how tall are you?

  • Cristobal – I don’t think winning over the women in the point of thier behavior. I think their point is to make you and your roommates feel uncomfortable and angry. Like spitting when you walk by, it’s thier way of letting you the gentrifier know that you are on thier turf. I just wonder if the best thing we could do, would be to ignore them completly.

  • Winter is great, the colder the better. I loved living in Wisconsin – everyplace was safe at 2 degrees. No harrassment below 10 degrees. Funny Georgia Ave story – this spring, clutching my yoga mat, running the gauntlet of hooting street people en route to Yoga House, a rough-looking man in front of The House (strip club featuring Girls!Girls!) called out to me in a clear pleasant voice, “have a good class!” I thanked him…

  • Steve- that might be the case sometimes (like with the more hateful/violent comments) but I don’t think that’s always the case- if it were, I think more comments would be made toward men/in the presence of men as well.

    My guess is that a fair amount of the comments are made from men in pairs or small groups as a way of flaunting their own manliness to the other guys- kind of like an ego boost or something?

  • mjbrox, i have been (lovingly, i hope) nicknamed ‘beast’ by friends since high school and on through college to today, if that tells you anything… when im walking with my roomates, its usually hand in hand, or arm in arm, and most people would guess that we are a couple i think. im glad that noone has ever tried to get at your wife when the two of you are together, but i would say that more often than not, when im walking with my girls, i might as well be invisble as far as being a cat call deterent goes…i guess the fools could see my size as a challenge though, like trying to show off by hollering at the hot girl with the big guy…

    steve, ive seen the spitting thing more times than i can count. i do ignore it and just write it off as the ignorant behavior of a scared little bitch. i dont have much respect for anyone who wants to mark their territory like an animal by spitting on the sidewalk right in front of me…

  • cristobal,

    Be carefull out there.

    I have had people tell me that if someone is going to try mug someone my size (6’4” 200lbs) then they probably have a gun or knife.

    Even though, I would not put up a good fight, they do not know that and will move on to and easier target.

  • “What trouble me is whether “we” as women should be expected to tolerate harassment in the name of cultural acceptance. I think it’s a case by case thing. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes its just an old drunk man saying “Hello beautiful lady” in a way that is uncomfortable but not necessarily threatening.”

    I think you shouldn’t. It makes me sad to even think that there are good people who think that they would have to put up with such behavior in the name of cultural awareness. I know that we’re taught to accept a lot and be tolerant but darnit, people should feel SAFE.

    Funny story — I was out of town this weekend and I took a train from the airport into the city where I was staying. I got out at the right stop, but didn’t know where my hotel was, so I asked a bunch of young black men if I was headed in the right direction. They pointed out where I should go and I strolled off and of course one young man wanted to join me, ask me if he could see me later, whatever. So we were just chatting and then I said “all right sir, here’s my hotel, thanks so much for walking me here.” And he said, “Sir! I like the way that sounds.” Cute kid. Anyway, it makes me wonder sometimes how much some of this cat-calling is just an extremely stupid, asisine ploy to get acknowledgment in a world that really doesn’t have anything good to think about black men.

    However, I’m not saying any of that to suggest that harrassment is something that anyone has to put up with. But it does explain why, if someone speaks to me decently, I will try to say something decent back. I don’t know why it’s a woman’s “job” to have to be so friendly all the time, but I’m not strong enough to fight that larger battle.

  • This is interesting- have any other women experienced this kind of behavior while walking with a man? No one has ever bothered my while walking with my husband, but if he’s 4 feet ahead or behind me, apparently I’m fair game. I wonder if his appearance has anything to do with it. I would think his build is fairly average though? 6 ft tall 180ish pounds? Very curious. Perhaps men are complicated after all…

  • saf

    When we first moved here, I was younger and thinner. We also stood out a LOT more than we do now.

    In those days, I got a lot of the “hey white bitch,” and we both got a good bit of “go back to Virginia!” (Which actually bothered me more, as I would never even consider living in Virginia.) But you know, none of that came from people who actually LIVED here – it was all from the corner boys.

    These days, it only happens once in a while, and it is much more crude and sexual, and still, yes, racial. And it’s still not coming from people who actually live here. And I am older, slower, and until recently, walked with a cane for the last year. I don’t know if that changes things.

    I do think that the fact that I have lived here for so long, and walked around this neighborhood for so long, does make a difference. Most of the people who live/work/hang out around the neighborhood have been seeing me/us for years, and many of them know us to speak to. The people who yell at me are the ones who assume that I don’t belong here. In reality, THEY are the ones who don’t belong here.

  • Have seen some respond to “Hey, white lady” with an equal ” Hello, black man”… kinda funny, as if we are just walking around identifying colors and sexes for a general census exercise or something.

    When I first moved here I got hollared at a fair amount, even though I am a young, tall, male, but I think that had more to do with the fact that I drive an old Cadillac convertible. Used to shout at me, “hey light-skin”… Never tried the response of “hello dark-skin” as it seems that might be different somehow…

  • I have not gotten harassed when walking above the Georgia/Ave. metro. However, all bets are off below the metro walking down Georgia. I also happen to be a redhead and for whatever reason that seems to make it worse.

    I got the same type of treatment when I lived in Harlem but after I lived there long enough and everyone knew me it didn’t happen as much.

    My favorite was being called whatever random white woman entertainer popped into the person’s head at the time. I got called Brittany Spears a lot and my sister even got called Gwyneth Paltrow one day.

  • I wish Golden Silences had not discontinued her blog. It was a great resource for my wife.

  • How about the men on the list – it may not be sexual, but what kind of harrassment do you get? My husband was walking home from the metro yesterday when a 10 year old kid started thumping his chest at my husband and said “Hey, MFer, you don’t belong here.” Makes me want to take their parents and shake them. People talk about “the man” keeping them down, but the saddest thing in the world is when its your own parents keeping you down.

  • Parkwood – I have experienced it. I would go to lunch with coworkers (4 guys) in Old Town and walk by construction workers and almost never fail to either be stared at or receive cat calls. I wasn’t even dressed nicely (jeans and flipflops). I think it’s less of intimidation than it is a verification of their own manhood to themselves. In some cultures machismo.

    I think the reason that many women hate it – at least why I do – is because I can’t tell if it’s harmless and just meant as a compliment, or if the person is really thinking about acting on their feelings if they get the desired reaction. Basically, I don’t want to do anything that could increase my chances of being raped, to put it bluntly.

  • Some of the Latin dudes do it in groups due to the fact that any women they care about in their lives are back in their home countries, so it’s been so long that they’ve had a woman or girl in their lives to love and respect, that they’ve forgotten what it means to show respect. Doesn’t cover everyone obviously, but for some.

  • I dated a woman once (briefly thank god) that really enjoyed the attention. If she got cat calls she’d stop and flirt with the guys. Unfortunately I know this because she did it whether or not I was with her, hence the “briefly.”

    My point though is that somewhere down the line, these guys that do this must have been rewarded for their behavior at some point too, in order to keep doing it.

  • Just want to point something out here as I can see Race is being brought up a lot here. It has nothing to do with Race. In a place like DC it is easy to point to race because class falls along racial lines in this town. Go walk through parts of south baltimore and or southy in boston. Where there exists something that does not in DC. POOR White people. You will be harrassed. Oh Yes. You WILL be harassed.

  • i’ve lived in various neighborhoods all over d.c. and been harrassed at some point in each. it ranged from the seemingly harmless, hi honey to in my face disgusting stuff. i can deal with it. what i hate is having to make myself blank, if you will, a little smaller at that moment. now i do it automaticly and i get pissed at the harassers and myself. that can’t be good.

  • The only time I’ve ever received comments when accompanied by a male is in Petworth actually, and always from the Latino guys leaning out the 2nd floor windows of the boarding house on the corner. My boyfriend is not a small guy, maybe they feel it’s safer from up there. I always lumped Latinos in with the French and attributed comments as cultural.

    While looking for a new place, I got a few comments in Shaw. They were inappropriate and occurred w/ more frequency than anything I’ve experienced in Petworth, but not threatening. If they had started to follow me, then I would have worried. I did have a teenager tell me he wanted me to wrap my legs around the poll on the metro and “switch it” while I was waiting to get off the train- that’s probably the most offensive thing I’ve heard myself. I wrote it off as something he learned from a music video. Seems like the more offensive things come from youths?

    My tactic is no eye contact and if that doesn’t work, just ignore it. It’s worked everywhere in the world so far.

  • Some of the Latin dudes do it in groups due to the fact that any women they care about in their lives are back in their home countries, so it’s been so long that they’ve had a woman or girl in their lives to love and respect, that they’ve forgotten what it means to show respect. Doesn’t cover everyone obviously, but for some.

    Actually, I think these 18-22 year old guys living in group houses are no different than a typical frat boy. No one likes people in fraternities because of how they treat women and no one likes how these guys treat women. The distance from home, church and parents definitely is a contributing factor, but I’d just say that a bunch of guys living together and working all day with guys 6 days a week is going to result in bad behavior.

  • My favorite was being called whatever random white woman entertainer popped into the person’s head at the time. I got called Brittany Spears a lot and my sister even got called Gwyneth Paltrow one day.

    In NYC in the 1980s I heard two teenagers shout out at a punk girl with bleach blonde hair, “Hey look it’s Patty Duke!”

    f*ckin A! Let’s get some people getting called Patty Duke up in here.

  • To anon at 10:41.
    “It has nothing to do with Race.” Uh… when anyone says “hey white bitch” or “light-skin” or “cracker”, regardless of their race, I am pretty sure that is racial in its orientation…

  • I was walking back to my place from the CH metro with a date last weekend and as we were walking some Hispanic guy passed on her side he grabbed her ass. I was not aware it had happened until they were way past us. I don’t think she wanted the confrontation that might have happened if she had told me while they were within arms reach. It really made me upset and I’m sure it made a wonderful impression on my date.

  • I’ve never seen any sexual harrassment when I’m with Lil’ Gal, but I have read about these type of incidents. If it happens to her it either must not bother her enough to tell me, or she has decided not to.

    Also, I’ve never seen the “spitting” myself either. I think I’d probably break out laughing if someone did that to me.

  • Otis Pl: don’t take her to Paris. It’s common and accepted there to grab a woman’s ass

  • i was once walking down mt pleasant st and an older latino man started walking with me asking me what i was doing — after ignoring him did not work. i firmly told him i was going home and he can just keep walking on ahead of me. to my surprise he did walk off in front of me and left me alone. not 5 seconds later and a young white guy came up next to me and said “you’re really going home. that’s a shame.” and i’m sure he thought he was being cute but i was furious. it comes from all sides. people just need to get it through their heads that you shouldn’t talk to someone like you know them on the street at night time.

    ugh — and i am usually not bothered by a ‘hello’ or short compliment. but yesterday as i walked to the union station metro there was a young white man trying to get people to stop to sign his petition and he saw me coming and started singing “you are gorgeous” at the top of his lungs. like that would make me want to talk to him or take his cause seriously… anyway, these examples just go to show that this type of thing can come from anyone all they need is the ego to think that women want to fall all over them.

  • JnDC,

    you missed the point. Doesnt matter if the crap they hurl is racial. Obviously if the harassment is white on white it wouldnt involve racial jabs. But in the nieghborhoods i mentioned you will still be told what positions they want to bang you in and other grotesque come ons. I am saying all races harbor this element. Just in DC we do not have poor blue collar whites. So you have to take a feild trip to see it in action.

  • DCer, I don’t think anon meant that the comments had nothing to do with race but that the cat calling itself has nothing to do with race.

    personally I think it is a tiny bit of cultural backgrounds but mostly with social/financial class. Its really big in Italy to cat call at the markets. The men there can do it in more than just one language. I’m asian and I was yelled at in Chinese, Italian, Japanses, Korean, English, and a few I did not recognize. It was also not uncommon to have men point straight at your chest and yell “boobies” at you but once away from the markets the cat calling subsides The women also dress a lot more conservatively up top than women tend to here during summer, wearing jackets and concealing their cleavage. . I do think in some cultures you may find it is more widely expected and accepted, but to say its a race thing implies that pretty much all the men from that culture do it which we know is just not true. It seems it usually is the poorer men who seem to partake in this in any race I have come across being cat called. I have been harrassed by white, black, hispanic, italian, but the one thing they usually have in common is their social/financial backgrounds.

  • Sorry I meant to write to JnDC not DCer

  • saf

    Alicia – you’re kidding, right? You don’t really believe that?

    It is NOT common and accepted in Paris to grab someone’s ass. (Yes, I have been there. Yes, several times.)

  • I lived there for 6 months (on study abroad) and spoke with the local program director (a woman) who told me that. Yes she is French and yes she’s lived there her whole life. Not to mention it happened to me and almost all of the girls on my program.

  • How many of you men were taught by your mother or father or both that it was rude to make comments like the ones we were discussing? Say what you want about other countries, but I think it would not be inaccurate to say that the general consensus in the US that cat calling and similar behaviour is rude. I don’t care if you are black, white, red or green. It is rude. In DC, my wifes experience has been young black males. She grew up in San Antiono TX, where it was young latino males. Regardless, in the former case I think it is a complete lack of parenting skills and in the case of the later it is a mistaken belief that what is acceptable in El Salvador is acceptable here.

  • I actually had a spitting incident recently…and it, like the rest of the crap being described here jsut doesnt make any sense to me. I was driving home down 13th, and just South of military I was stopped at a red light. two guys were talking in the middle of the street, and as the light turned green, before i had moved, one taps the others shoulder and indicates they should get out of the street. As I passed, again, without gunning my engine or any crap like that, the one who needed the direction hocks a huge one smack in the middle of my windsheild. Of course I ran the wipers and just thought it incredibly odd. was I supposed to confront him and demand to know why he spit on my windshield? was I supposed to be indignant about not accellerating AS fast as I could have? The worst part about it is that I couldnt stop thinking that their behavior was fit for a stereotype! Why the hell shouldnt I call someone acting their stereotype out? I mean, if I were penny pinching and being an ass about $, Im sure there are many who wouldnt hesitate to call me a cheap Jew.

    The same behaviors, spitting, littering, cat calling, generally disrespecting the world I think stems from this notion that society doesnt respect races other than whites. I am certainly not saying that this isnt the case…HOWEVER, I think in our urban environment it really isnt the case. I think where we are people earn their respect by being the people that they are. Not because they are the black people that they are or the hispanic people…yadda. Perhaps this is idealistic or naive of me…after all Im old enough to realize that racism and sexism are real and do exist in the world…but I just dont see it. I dont see “gentrifiers” tyring to push people out of their homes (slumlords maybe, but not ordinary folks who just buy a house!). Increasing property values and tax rates are not “our” fault…they are a product of a lot of intentional action by a lot of interested people and groups, including…elected officials! No one wants to stagnate growth, because it is generally good for everyone…so if you want things to remain the same and the poverty to exist as it did even 5-10 years ago…Im sorry but the ship has sailed and you did nothing to prevent it.

    Im sorry for the rambling post…its probably incoherent, but stuff that Ive wanted to scream to deaf ears for a while. The last thing anyone wants to hear when they are acting out are the rational reasons why they shouldnt.

  • Saf- I’ve been to Paris with a female, as well.
    Personally, I assumed that Alicia was trying to make a joke, albeit, a very unfunny one.

  • The worst place I’ve experienced the cat-calls has been in CH…usually along Columbia Road. I usually completely ignore and keep walking, and that seems to do the trick. But there have been times when I feel I should be wearing a snowsuit in the middle of July–I feel like its my fault these guys are commenting b/c I’m wearing a short skirt.

    The worst was when a guy actually grabbed my hand in passing. I’m usually a very passive person, but was all set to yell, “what right do you have to TOUCH me?!”

  • saf- it might not be “accepted” but it seems much more common there than here. I’ve never (knock on wood) had anyone physically touch me here. Paris, not so much.

  • Man, all these cat-callers are what is ruining my game!

    I always wondered why the women here in DC will not look at you in the eye on the street no matter how nice how smiley how polite and innocuous you are.

    In fact, thats mostly an american trait. all over the world people look at each in the eyes as you pass them on the street. its nice, i like it.

    and to the commenter who said that she felt like she had to be ‘nice’ all the time –

    get over yourself!

    yes, you have to be nice. its part of being a decent human being. and that includes acknowledging someone who says hello to you on the street (in a nice way of course) as well as SMILING BACK when someone smiles at you.

    its what makes the world go around.

    exchanging pleasantries

  • Part of the answer is power dynamic. They feel powerful enough to demand a response from ANY advance, whether its “hey girl” or worse. Many times you see men get angry when they are ignored and thier “power” is nullified by silence. Returning a “hello” to a “hello” is OK, but acknowledging and enabling bad behavior probably isn’t ideal.

    Also, guys, you can call out other guys when you see this type of thing happening. If you’ve never seen a woman harrased in real life before, join me on 18th and Columbia any Thursday thru Sunday night. We can heckle the hecklers together.

  • I worked with an African American businesswoman from Harlem in 2006 and she would often lament that there was literally no entrepreneurial spirit in the African-American community here in DC. In Harlem, she’d say, roughnecks had vans and delivery companies or painted houses, or were clothing designers or worked on broadway or owned bars and grandma would fight like hell to get their grandkids a scholarship to a prep school or at least the school that Fame was based on. Down here, she’d say, roughnecks stood on the corners and their girlfriends worked for the government and the kids went to school whenever. The basic idea was that she was a liberal, but even she thought it was a terrible idea to strive to work for the government rather than own a dress business.

    This is probably borderline insensitive for me to type out at all. But I think that at some point we can say that it’s ok for us to be angry about these behaviors and see how cultural norms play into the perpetrators looking at their victims as “the other” while Dad doesn’t automatically take the car keys away, grounding Jr for acting like an ass on the sidewalk. Like what I’ve seen happen to teens on our block where a) there is a Dad, b) the Dad enforces rules c) the kid drives the parents car d) there is acknowledgment by the family that this behavior is unacceptable.

    I’ve seen in one single family on our block an adult child go whacko and get picked up by the cops multiple times and the Mom simply tell us that she was “praying” he’d see the light WITHOUT KICKING HIM OUT OF HER HOUSE!

  • Whoa there. Lay off the “blue collar” and “poor” comments. Being a horses’ ass has nothing to do with race OR class. Anyone whose ever seen how “rich” men behave at a club (where acting like an ass is appearantly okie-dokie), or a football game knows this to be the case. Are frat boys let loose in places like the French Quarter “blue collar”?

  • Kalia and Anon 10:41 make a good point that maybe this isn’t a race thing, it’s a class thing. I honestly have not lived any place with a lot of lower-income white people, so I have no idea what those neighborhoods are like or what kind of lovely cat-calling I might experience there.

    I’m still curious to know if I get less cat-calling because I’m black. But I’m just one data point — maybe I get as much as anyone here, or maybe I get less because of where I hang out, where I walk, where I live (north of the Petworth Metro), etc. It seems like I got a lot of it when I was living on Columbia Road in A-M from the Latino guys, but because I don’t understand much Spanish maybe I was blissfully ignorant of what was being said behind my back. Black guys just seem to want to holler, but no one has said anything obscene. I don’t recall even being called a bitch, at least, not recently.

    What Anon 10:43 said about having to make yourself “blank” and “smaller” is soooo on point. I hate that part of me is thinking “please don’t hurt me” whenever I have that kind of interaction with a male stranger. It’s not like I’m LIVING IN FEAR OMG!!!….but it is a constant awareness that just really wears you down.

  • this is not a discussion about harassment at Clubs or Sporting events

  • Okay, behavior like this might not be exclusive to race or to social class, but it is 99.9% a product of MEN. Guys, police your brethren, whatever their race or social class. Somewhere along the way lots and lots of men have gotten the idea that it’s okay to treat women this way. Lots of men have also gotten the message that it’s not. Perhaps it’s incumbent upon the latter group to spread the word to the former. At least it couldn’t hurt.

  • Anoneemoo, you really have no idea what is going on in my life, or in my head, when you’re going around with your pleasantries. You have no idea if that last time I smiled at a guy he said something nasty, or if I just have something on my mind, or if I’m sick, or depressed, or sad, or if I just didn’t hear you.

    So please, don’t tell me what I need to be to be human. Get over *yourself*, not everyone owes you a big grin and a “how you doing!” I exchange pleasantries the *vast majority* of the time when I am approached in a pleasant way. But sometimes I don’t, and part of being a nice human is realizing that some things (like my lack of a greeting) may HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.

    I swear, you would never have men telling other men “smile baby!” or something like that. You’d never have a man call another man a “bitch” for not acknowledging a comment. So why are women on the hook all the time?

  • chrstina,

    you’re ‘on the hook’ because men say things to you.

    you don’t to them.

    so you don’t ‘put them on the hook’

    simple as that

    sorry if you’ve got something bad going on, but this is a universal thing.

    here in the states, women never look or make eye contact on the street. they all live in fear of whatever or disdain or whatnot.

    in latin america for example, woman are major eye contact makers. and its part of the culture. just like the man on other side of that exchange is looking at them making advances.

    take the same men here and put them against the women of america and you’ve got a problem.

    by the way, i’m not talking about harassment, cat calling, violence or anything else.

    simple hellos and smiles.

    its what makes life worth living – positive peaceful exchanges with your brothers and sisters of the universe!

    PS do you realize how cranky you sound?

    PPS men have a little secret exchange that works all the time. its the little head raise. like a nod but up instead of down. men do it all the time. its our way of saying hello while still being dudes.

  • Re: Spitting

    Happens all the time. Do you think it happens more to those of us who wear suits to work? I live between U street and CH metros. I quit using the CH Metro after work because I got sick of 15 dudes spitting at me and harassing my girlfriend the whole way home every day.

    Spitting? When did this become the thing? I thought folks showed off by walking across the street against the light daring folks to hit them. I guess now it is spitting.

  • Of course, this posting would get such a huge response with such a variety of perspectives. It sucks that women have deal with this bs everyday.

    The race component definately sucks.

    As a black woman, it seems to me that I am harassed more often than white women. From the comments I’ve seen here, when white women are harassed it is often with a racial component. The most I get is “morena” and its not nasty. That whole rape comment has never occured to me, but i have been followed and cussed out if I ignore their shennangians.

    Generally, it’s hello, how you doin’, but often times its blowing kisses, following, and saying other threatening things.

    If I am walking with a white male, some people have often felt it necessary to say nasty things about that fact and to put their hands on me. It is complicated and I don’t quite understand it. It doesn’t matter if I’m in business suit or sweats, I’ll still get harrassed.

    Lets be clear on this: IT IS OKAY TO BE MAD. It’s horrible that women have to think of this before they go outside. I don’t want to get too Women’s studies, but it is an invasion of your space. Why do men own the streets? Why should we ignore it or try reason their bad behavior? I think we should confront folks if we feel comfortable, but never put yourself in danger.

    I think we should as support each. If you see someone who being followed or telling a man to leave her alone… come to her aid or call the police. I often wonder if anyone would take notice if some idiot attacked me, especially as a black woman.

    This is why I love my bike, but i still get some hollas from bikers and pedestrians alike.

  • I’ve spent time in areas with lower income white people (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Brooklyn and Staten Island) and I never saw this kind of street hassling there where someone would be sitting on the sidewalk and yelling or making cat calls. I think there was some kind of attempt to pick up the woman these guys were talking to, at least from my perspective.

    In Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Philly, It would be more like… “ooh yeah” or “whistles” but it’s from one guy directed to his friends letting his friends know that he “liked what he saw.” It was like they were watching TV or talking about a cheerleader, it wasn’t cool, but it wasn’t an attempt to really interact with them.

    In Philly I also saw women snap back like, “I know your grandmother, punk, and I’m gonna tell her what you said to me.” It’s that kind of Irish community where everyone knows everyone.

    Where that occurred, where a guy came up to a woman, like on the boardwalk at Ocean City or in a blue collar area of Philadelphia or Baltimore, it was more like “Small talk” than a street hassle, even if it was, technically a street hassle. Can you imagine an erstwhile nerd from The Office saying, “Helllooooo” or “Bon Jovi, I saw him in 1986.” And the woman brushing him off? That’s what I saw. In my example the woman is wearing a Bon Jovi shirt.

    In Brooklyn, I saw a lot of “Hello Girl you’re looking fine” from Sopranos-style “guidos.” There, when the women would ignore them, the guys would turn to each other and say, “Lesbian.” If you’ve never seen that, it was really common there. I saw that kind of thing in Little Italy in Manhattan too.

    You can hit the midway at any county fair this year and see rural white rednecks do this sort of thing. But with the southern guys, I swear the attempt is to actually get a date.

    I have never been to southy in Boston- on purpose!

  • Christina–
    Just a quick note about my experiences with street harassment vs. yours: Like you, I also live some distance north of the Petworth metro, and I don’t think I’ve gotten *any* inappropriate comments since I moved to the neighborhood two years ago. Unlike you, I’m white. So maybe it’s something about the sleepy and polite blocks above 4000? I don’t regularly encounter groups of young men sitting on corners–instead, the people I pass are either elderly or parents with small children, and everyone just says hi.

    (And I agree with you 100% regarding your 12:28 comment!)

  • sorry if you’ve got something bad going on, but this is a universal thing.

    go see a therapist if you believe this, you need your head fixed nutso.

    I can’t speak more plainly than that. you’re f’d in the head and you need to talk to a doctor.

  • That’s really slick, anonneemooo, the way you turned a discussion about harassment into one about “simple hellos and smiles,” and then artfully made it all about the woman’s “appropriate” response.

    You might not engage in the type of harassment we’re addressing here, but you do share the thinking that underlies it, namely, that women need to respond to men in a way that pleases them. Anything less and we sound “cranky,” whether the exchange began as a “simple hello” or something more edgy.

    How do you think women should respond to harassment on the streets? That is the question. Not whether or not pleasantries should be returned with pleasantries.

  • Yeah, anoneemoo, I feel cranky because it’s irritating to be judged based on whether I say hi to someone or not, so I don’t really care how I’m coming across. You’re not the first person I’ve heard to say this.

    I repeat, since you don’t know me, you don’t know what I say to men. You also don’t know what men say to me. One of the first things I said in this whole exchange is that I am nice to people who are nice to me. But sometimes, I’m not in the mood, and that’s my business.

    I’m sorry if you’re a Nice Guy and you’ve said pleasant things and gotten ignored, but that’s not a problem with women, that’s a problem with the many Un-Nice Guys who have preceded you. I’m sorry if the States are different than other countries and you think those other countries handle things better, but cultural differences are cultural differences. We in the States have a right to our culture just as much as women in Latin America have a right to theirs.

    So while you are talking about positive peaceful exchanges, please aim some of your attention at the Un-Nice Guys who make just walking to yoga class or hanging around in the neighborhood so unpleasant for many of the other women who have posted here. These women aren’t telling lies about their experiences — this stuff really happens, and they’re not positive, peaceful exchanges.

  • anonneemooo- I understand what you are saying about being a descent human being, but this comment you made was out of ignorance. You’re not a women. You’ve probably had some man follow you or threaten you in the why many of us have experience. You’ve probably never been groped in front of several people that did nothing. That could make you a little worried when walking down the street

    What you are experiencing is called privilege. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Listen to a woman’s perspective.

    I don’t give a fuck where the fuck you are from— groping women is not cool. I’m not saying everyone’s got to lose their culture (I come from an immigrant family), but we’ve got to have standards.

  • ZetteZelle, north of the Metro must be like Mayberry! 🙂

  • Just on a positive note, I lived in Petworth for seven years and I was never heckled. Maybe I am just butt ugly. No really, I never had a problem with it. All of the fellows I encountered just said hello and kept on moving.

  • Someone made a great point about this being a social class issue, not a racial one.

    The bottom line is that one cannot expect those in a lower class to have the same manners/socialization that they do. For this reason, I place catcalls from these men on the same level as a dog barking at me. Doesn’t matter. They don’t know any better.

  • The best was when a hooker got mad at me for not saying anything for calling me gorgeous (I just smiled) as I was walking up New Hampshire from the metro. I also heard a kid about 11 or 12 try to hit on me or another girl walking by, by saying things that 11 year olds, or anyone, should be saying. Part of me wanted to chew him out but I wasn’t sure if that would have had any effect.

  • If you are able to, (or are willing to change habits slightly), I would suggest biking as a strategy to avoid this type of harassment. On a bike you may get hollered at, but in my experience you either don’t hear it, or are so far gone by the 2nd word, it doesn’t really even register. There was a period of time last summer when my bike was not an option, and I was walking and taking the bus, and I actually started having homicidal fantasies about stabbing the men on Columbia Road and in CH who would constantly harass me. Some mornings I would be so angry/sad/disturbed by the time I would get to work I couldn’t even focus. Once I got my bike back and I started riding again, it’s down to about 5% of the volume it was at while using the bus/walking.

    Another response that I have tried is to just say “Stop.” And I didn’t yell it, or say it in any distinct way. It sorta sounded like the way you would say “stop” if you were reading a stop sign to a 3 year old. Sometimes it worked. Other times it would REALLY piss them off.

    A co-worker of mine who experiences some of the most bizarre comments I have ever seen anyone recieve, ex: “Hey, I’d fuck you”, responded with “Compelling!”. Redirecting the comment into the ridiculous context it’s in can be sorta interesting.

    There’s also the disappointed head-shake. Sorta like if you fucked up SOO bad, that your mom couldn’t even muster up words and just hung her head and shook it in shame.

  • speaking of this, does anyone know of a good, cheap/free, self-defense class?

  • ok let me put this another way.

    i live in columbia heights. i’ve been chased by a drunken mob of latino homeless guys, i’ve been assaulted by a group of young black men, and i’ve been harassed on countless other occasions both here and abroad.

    but you know what? i still look at people in the eye and smile and say hello or head nod or whatever.

    throwing the baby out with the bath water aint the way to peace and it aint the way to overcoming this issue.

    not looking at people on the street is way to shut down close off and disengage.

    and to the poster who claimed i needed psychological help for suggesting that human interaction is universal, i just have no idea what to say to that. thanks for reading the whole post where of course i say that assault, harassment or other items like that are clearly wrong.

    and by the way the following comment from christina is what took me down this path of comments:

    “I don’t know why it’s a woman’s “job” to have to be so friendly all the time, but I’m not strong enough to fight that larger battle.” – christina 10:04AM

    i am sorry it feels like a job for you to be friendly.

  • I just wanted to point out that any time someone grabs your hand/rear/etc. without your permission, they have just committed assault and battery in DC.

    In a perfect world you could call the police and press charges. The problem of course is that this is frequently a lot more trouble than it’s worth.

    I’m a male, so I don’t get catcalls, but I have run into my fair share of teenagers around the city who will come up and shove me or do a shoulder check into me. I’ve yet to call the police and have them arrested, but each time I don’t, I feel bad. I feel like some of these kids just need a wake-up call. If they never get any negative feedback when they do things like that, they will never understand how to fit into society as an adult.

  • There is a difference, to me anyway, between harassment, and trying to talk to a woman passing by.

    Saying, hey there, you look good, what’s your name, may be annoying, but contrary to what some seem to perceive, it’s not a threat or an attack, and people are allowed to talk to one another without asking permission.

    On the other hand, saying “i’ll fuck you” or anything like that, that IS threatening and completely inappropriate is a whole other story. Those guys should be kicked in the balls repeatedly.

    I understand that bad apples ruin it for the bunch, but non-threatening flirting from the street, without more, is just a fact of life. Dudes try to pick up women, that’s what dudes do.

  • The bottom line is that one cannot expect those in a lower class to have the same manners/socialization that they do. For this reason, I place catcalls from these men on the same level as a dog barking at me. Doesn’t matter. They don’t know any better.


    Gotta disagree with at least part of this sentiment. This is exactly what we should expect from everybody, regardless of income, and I’d argue that 95% of people who do and say this sh*t actually do know better. Basic norms of decency shouldn’t hinge on social status. The more we tolerate/passively accept it, the more we socialize a new generation of kids who really won’t know any better. Not saying you should risk life or limb to try to stem the behavior when you’re the subject of harassment, but there’s got to be a better way than just ignoring it.

  • im not sure harassment of a sexual nature is a class issue, on the street maybe but most women and some men im sure have experienced a kind of vieled sexual innuenndo almost anywhere else, not as scary and crazy making but harassment for sure i personally find this more difficult to deal with at times. not that i want some fool following me screaming “i want some of that bitch” but at least im clear that this person is being a pig and i can call him on it . without having to do a lot of dancing around.

  • Like many others, I have to chalk up this behavior to bad parenting. My heritage is both black and Latino. If I had EVER said anything like the comments on this board to a woman, BOTH sides of my family would have made me wish I was never born. And I know I’m not alone in that regard. I remember the days when “You wasn’t raised right” was as much of an insult as calling out yo’ mama. And yes, bad parenting extends across racial lines. I’ve heard that kind of nonsense from all kinds of men.

    Depressing anecdote: co-worker of mine, white woman, attractive, about 25 y.o., was walking by a group of kids, 8-9 year olds at best, in CH. One proceeds to openly take a piss on the sidewalk. She’s shocked, but ignores them. The little pisser yells, “Yeah, you know you want it, white girl.” What made me even angrier than the comment wass that he was either parroting some fool who thought it was okay to talk like that around an 8-year-old, or even worse, directly taught him to talk like that.

    We need to go back to the days when the whole community, not just the parents, would call out a kid for yelling that way, no matter what the race. Used to be that the black communities were where this was most strictly enforced. If I had talked that way as a kid someone would have marched straight to my mother to tell her, or they would’ve have taken it on themselves to slap me into next week. And that would’ve have been cool with my mother. In fact, in someone had already slapped me into next week, she would’ve come back and slapped me into the week after next.

    Wrong is wrong, no matter where you come from. And the problem is, the fools who are doing it aren’t reading outraged blogs. They’re out there right now, yelling at your sister.

  • If I am ever fortunate enough to have children and I have a son, I will give him the same advice that was given to Lloyd Dobler in the movie “Say Anything” – “Don’t be just another guy…Be a man.” The common thread in all of the crappy behavior cited above is the incredibly poor job that our society does in raising men. There is no shortage of males in our society, but there are aren’t enough men. Men don’t say nasty things to women on the street if their advances are ignored. Men don’t say nasty things to women in bars or restaurants that ignore their advances. Men don’t believe that a woman who allows a male to spend money on her on a date is implicitly agreeing to have sex with him and don’t say nasty things to any woman who fails to live up to that expectation. Men don’t sexually assault women.
    It’s not an issue of race or class. Women of all races and classes have put up with crappy behavior from males of all races and classes for years. That’s because there has been a failure across racial and class lines to raise men. The failures may be more or less pronounced in some areas than others, but they exist in all areas. It’s a man issue.

  • It’s not ONLY a man issue. While I pretty much agree with SG, I would add that it’s a WOMAN thing too, because there are too many gals, like the guys mentioned above, who don’t just ignore advances, but turn around and insult a man who makes the tamest of “how are you’s” in a bar. There are too many gals who enjoy or at least pretend to enjoy negative attention from guys. There are too many gals who clearly expect a man to bankroll them in exchange for their time and yes, sex.

    Sexual assault is illegal, immoral and unable to be justified in any way. Saying nasty things or verbally harassing someone is horrible as well. I’m not condoning that behavior. Any guy who does that is scum.

    However, to just simply blame guys for not acting like men ignores the gals who encourage the behavior. Humanity problems require fixing from all of humanity, both genders.

  • anoneemoo, we’re not talking about the same type of stuff, so, agree to disagree, okay? It’s not a job for me to be friendly. It’s a job for me to constantly have to be determining which men are okay and which are not, when sometimes I just don’t want to talk. That’s my right, correct? To just be left alone? You may think it’s wrong, but no one *has* to engage with anyone if they don’t want to.

    When you get mad at a guy for not returning your pleasantries and call them cranky, then we’ll talk. In the meantime, if we ever meet, I’ll let you buy me a drink and I’ll tell you aaalll about it.

    dcdirewolf, why does what you’re talking about have to be something that guys do? I get that it’s not meant as threatening, I really do understand what you’re saying. But, it’s not as easy as you may think to distinguish non-threatening flirting from something more ominous. Attackers aren’t usually wearing an “I’m an attacker!” t-shirt. So why is getting picked up on the street just something that women should expect?

  • Christina, women should just expect it because it’s been done in all cultures in all places since biblical days. No public education plan or parenting classes or police action or pushback is likely to change it. That’s what I mean by it being something guys just do. Trying to get guys to stop hitting on women in public will be like trying to get the sun to stop shining.

    I believe firmly that illegal, violent, threatening behavior or truly harassing (as opposed to annoying) behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any form. But the other stuff, I just don’t see that ever changing. So hating on it will just drive you crazy without any movement on it.

  • Okay…and how do we define “truly harassing” from “annoying?” It is possible that we might have different definitions of this.

    I guess I’m always thrown in these conversations when someone says that men are just incapable of changing their behavior, so women just have to learn to deal. I mean, I’m obviously going way off the reservation, but seems to me to be the same mindset that, taken to a far extreme, leads to women having to cover themselves in some country, because the men can’t be expected to control themselves if they see hair or a face or a bare ankle. It’s the woman’s job to control men’s behavior. But maybe it should be a man’s job to control his own behavior.

    Since the vast majority of my male friends don’t hit on women in the street (and I assume you don’t hit on women in the street,) I know that men are capable of this kind of control.

  • DCDireWolf- thanks for the reality check for all us crazy broads that just want to get some milk at the grocery store without being bothered. Thanks for getting all biblical and shit. If folks don’t want to change their behavior, just be prepared to get shanked.

  • Guys should get shanked for saying “hey baby?” Isn’t that extreme?

    Most men are capable of self control, but the truth is that since the beginning of man and woman, there has been a group that are NOT capable of that self control.

    So to me, it seems wise to concentrate on the truly threatening, dangerous and harassing, then try to keep that group of guys from hitting on you on the street or at the bar.

    I understand that women just want to get milk at the store without being bothered. But maybe if women changed the criteria of what is bothering and what is not, there wouldn’t be as much bothering, if you catch my drift.

    Obscenities and vulgarities and physical assaults and violent talk and sustained getting in a woman’s face-all criminal, wrong, immoral, intolerable and unacceptable.

    Garden variety cat calls? Maybe those shouldn’t be considered such a “bother” and be just simply ignored or laughed at. And as I mentioned earlier in this thing, some women clearly don’t find it bothersome, the cat calls, not the other horrible stuff.

  • I think the women should get together and harass us men.

  • DCDireWolf- the title of this post is street harrassment. Key words. So stop talking about picking up broads at a bar.

    You’re being too sensitive.

    All i’m sayin is that when you act crazy on the street and try to harrass folks you don’t know- be prepared to be shanked by crazy ass bitches.

    Now, how great would it be to have men scared as shit walking around with the heads down- afraid to make eye contact because a couple of their boys got shanked last week?

    I’m just sayin…

  • What is being lost here is the tragic epidemic of female-on-male sexual harassment. Am I really the only one here who has to suffer through cries of “nice buns” and “hey there big boy” every time I try to buy food at the Giant?

    DCDireWolf, since the beginning of time there have been a group of men that are incapable of self control in lots of ways — inability to refrain from sexual assault, or violence, or drug/alcohol addiction, or rampant infidelity, or any other matter of bad behavior. That’s not an excuse, it doesn’t make it right, and it certainly should not shift the onus to women to have to put up with it. Whether it is a class things or a race thing or whatever you want to call it, I seriously doubt women walking around Woodley Park are subject to the volume and intensity of cat calling they have to face in Columbia Heights. It is wrong, plain and simple, and culture or inherent maleness or whatever are no excuse.

    One of my problems with DC is people are willing to overlook all manner of petty crime / nuisance, whether it be graffiti or litter or direspective women or throwing rocks or spitting or whatever, and try to use culture or poverty or whatever as an excuse. To me, it is patronizing to suggest that certain socioeconomic groups are incapable of basic human respect. It comes down to, are you totally self-interested or do you give even an iota of thought to the impact your actions have on the community or those you encounter? I am not a big fan of Rudy Giuliani, but I will say, under his regime, people in NYC stopped putting up with many of the annoyances that had become accepted as a part of daily life in New York — the squeegy guys and so on — and the city is a MUCH better place because of it.

  • My point is that catcalling isn’t plainly and simply wrong like verbal harassment or physical assault is plainly and simply wrong.

    Catcalling is annoying, but not wrong, in my view. Lots of things are annoying but not wrong. Panhandling is annoying, but not wrong. Giant billboards advertising shit we don’t need is annoying, but not wrong. People playing loud music in public is annoying, but not wrong.

    Sometimes people are too sensitive, and I think with harmless catcalling, that’s what we’re dealing with here. But yeah, title of the post was harassment, and I apologize for taking things off course. Harassment sucks and shouldn’t be tolerated.

  • Anon, you are cracking me up!

    “I understand that women just want to get milk at the store without being bothered. But maybe if women changed the criteria of what is bothering and what is not, there wouldn’t be as much bothering, if you catch my drift.”

    I got ya! “Chicks, stop being so sensitive and edgy and shit. You need to understand that for some men, you’re just entertainment, so even if you’re not feeling it, just get through it. Let it roll off your back. Men are going to do what men are going to do.”

    Well, DCdirewolf, that’s what most of us do all the time. If you go back to the beginning of the thread, you can see time and again where posters said “I just ignore it, I just don’t look, I just don’t pay attention.” Of course, *then* we have to deal with assholes calling things after us if we ignore them, or calling us “cranky” and telling us how we should act since we don’t put on a big grin. It’s a no-win situation — for women, that is. Men never have to change, since they’ve been doing it since “biblical days,” and nothing every changes — except, whoops, it has. We’ve become more civilized. There is no reason why this couldn’t be better.

  • I’m pretty sure there is a giant misunderstanding happening here. DCDireWolf, Anonneemooo and any other guys who think we’re talking about the “hey girl, how you doin?” type of comments, wondering why we can’t all just get along should go on a walk with a willing female friend. Walk half a block back from her. I bet you’d be shocked. Maybe even angry.

    As for guys picking up girls on the street, I guess that if men have a god given right to do this, then women should be equally god given right to ignore him or give a cold reply, without being classified as rude, scolded, or worse yet, called a “f*ckin skank” no?

  • And please enlighten me on how you go about getting men to change their catcalling behavior? This has been a “problem” for thousands of years, surely women and sympathetic men have tried to change things? Has it worked? What do you suggest? Proposed laws that likely won’t pass, and if they do, will be added to the rest of the public nuisance laws that aren’t enforced? Public awareness campaigns that need to be funded by D.C.? Good luck on getting the money and even if you do, good luck on the campaign actually working. Better parenting? I’d love that since we have a youth gang problem in D.C., but if you can’t get solutions to the parenting problem to cut down on murders I doubt you’re gonna get it for catcalling.

    I don’t think we’ve become all that more civilized in this area. And this is one thing I just don’t see changing much since it never has. Wishing things were different certainly won’t make it happen. So yeah, I think it would make sense to let it roll off your back. Some parts of life will always be less than perfect.

  • As for guys picking up girls on the street, I guess that if men have a god given right to do this, then women should be equally god given right to ignore him or give a cold reply, without being classified as rude, scolded, or worse yet, called a “f*ckin skank” no?

    ABSOLUTELY! Definitely not trying to defend lowlifes.

  • DCDireWolf, I think you are talking about “harmless cat-calling” like there is one set definition for whatever that is. There isn’t.

    I know you are not trying to condone harassment. I think it’s better to stick to that one major point on which we agree.

  • DCDireWolf, the other problem with cat calling is, you never know when it is innocent or when it isn’t. You have no idea what is like to walk around worried that this is the time that they are going to follow you home or worse.

    What are you, some sort of caveman? If I man wants to talk to a woman he can have some manners and walk up to her and politely introduce himself by himself. Yelling out of a moving vehicle honking your horn, calling me baby or beautiful, shouting from across the street telling me to come over so he can talk to me, or giving me an appraising look while standing in a group of other men eyeing me like their next meal is not flattering, its not fair, and its just degrading.

  • I don’t disagree that catcalling can be degrading, unfair and unflattering.

    I’m not a caveman, I don’t do those things. However, I am a realist and understand that there will always be men who do those things, no matter how they are received. And again, they are received differently by different people. When I used to walk down Columbia Road in Adams Morgan with my ex, latin dudes would lean out of windows and yell down “hey baby” and whistle. And she would stop, look up, and go “heyyyyy boys!”, smile, flirt a bit, then leave. Pissed me off, but that’s another story.

    What do you suggest Kalia, other than wishing the problem away, be done?

  • DCDireWolf- I don’t believe that this is something we regulate. It’s just common fuckin’ sense. There is a generally lack of respect in this city and in our neighborhood. A place where people throw trash into their own neighborhood, don’t call the police when they hear their neighbors screaming for help, and allow their children to run around like they ain’t got no sense.

    This does not happen every part of the country. It doesn’t even happen in most poor neighborhoods.

    This issue of respecting women goes in tandem with these other issues of people giving a fuck.

    We just need a little decency.

    I’m not saying that street harrassment is only regulated to DC, but I think it is much worse. I don’t get the same level of foolishness in New York City.

    I just think we should raise the level of expectations when we can. When it is safe, back me up when some dude is following me. At least alert the authorities. Tell your boys to chill out. That’s all i’m saying.

    I really do think cutting a few motherfuckers would help.

  • “I just think we should raise the level of expectations when we can. When it is safe, back me up when some dude is following me. At least alert the authorities. Tell your boys to chill out. That’s all i’m saying.”

    I’m down with that. My boys don’t do that shit, but I’m down with being a source of support.

  • “DCDireWolf- I don’t believe that this is something we regulate. It’s just common fuckin’ sense. There is a generally lack of respect in this city and in our neighborhood. A place where people throw trash into their own neighborhood, don’t call the police when they hear their neighbors screaming for help, and allow their children to run around like they ain’t got no sense.

    This does not happen every part of the country. It doesn’t even happen in most poor neighborhoods.”

    Yeah, this is the crux of things right here, we have problems a lot deeper than the catcalling. I’m all ears on how to inject self respect into a lot of people that live in our community. Not sure how do go about it myself other than leading by example.

  • I think one thing that could be done is changing from a mindset of “oh well, boys will be boys” about it. I don’t think that the police have to get involved. I’m not talking about drafting up new laws. But what did you say to those guys who were whistling at your ex? What do you say if/when you witness men treating women in a degrading way? What do you do when you hear “your boys” saying something about women that you know isn’t right? Peer pressure is powerful.

    If your mindset is “well, the woman shouldn’t be so sensitive, nothing will ever change, it’s been this way since biblical days” then, you’re right. Nothing will ever change. This isn’t something one woman, or even a great many women, can do alone. First we have to convince men that this is even a problem. The conversation we’re having with you and anoneemoo can give you an idea of how difficult this can be. If you civilized males are thinking that part of this is the woman’s problem to deal with, how can we ever reach the “uncivilized” males?

    I do appreciate that we are at least part of the way there when you and anonemoo say you know harassment is wrong. Now we just have to get to the next step, where you realize that women, like all people, have a right to just be treated completely regularly, not as a potential date or a plaything or anything else, unless they seek that attention. Walking down the street is not “seeking that attention.”

  • Thank you, Kalia and Christina! Also, it’s not just that you don’t know whether this particular guy will attack you or not. Thank my lucky stars, I’ve only been physically assaulted once, and it was very minor and by someone who was clearly mentally ill. But I have experienced, as I’m sure most of the women have, how a guy whose cat call gets ignored can turn ugly and violent, going from calling you “beautiful’ to calling you ugly, or a bitch, or a whore, or something even more threatening. And after 10 years of living in DC, I haven’t gotten used to that. I’m sorry if that makes me weak, but when I get home and lock the door after a particuarly threatening encounter, it can still make me shake a little. And if I can avoid going home and having to calm myself down from some man who is bigger and stronger saying threatening things to me simply by walking quickly with my head down at night, and politely smiling without making eye contact during the day, then I think the nice man who was just trying to be complimentary can get over the fact that I didn’t respond.

  • “I’m not saying that street harassment is only regulated to DC, but I think it is much worse. I don’t get the same level of foolishness in New York City.”

    I have to disagree with that. After 5 years, in Central Harlem I was on the receiving end of plenty of harassment. Usually, it was harmless but on occasion I got followed into stores. Once I walked around a black plastic bag on the street and apparently pissed off the owner of said plastic bag and got called a “c##t.” Also, was asked once if I liked “black d@#k.” I could pretty much count on being harassed if I dared to walk out on the street by myself. It did get somewhat better after I had lived there for awhile and people knew me in the neighborhood but as soon as I was out of a 5 block radius it was business as usual.

    I am pretty sure that it depends on what parts of NYC you frequent just like DC.

    I have no real solution to the issue but I don’t think it is worse than other places. It is socioeconomic in the sense that many of the said harassers don’t have jobs and have time to stand out on the street bothering women. You don’t see this in more affluent neighborhoods because people have shit to do and don’t hang out on the sidewalk all day and night.

  • “And please enlighten me on how you go about getting men to change their catcalling behavior? This has been a “problem” for thousands of years, surely women and sympathetic men have tried to change things? Has it worked?”

    Slavery was the norm for most of human history. So was treating women like chattel. The ideas of racial and religious tolerance as the norm really only took hold in the last century, and really, it hasn’t even been all that long that people bought into the idea that all people have equal rights, and should govern themselves, rather than have a small group ruling over everyone else. These were all firmly entrenched concepts that we’ve all managed to change, so why is this behavior supposedly immune to change as well? There are always going to be people who rob, rape, and murder, but just because we can’t eliminate it, it doesn’t mean we condone it, or that we don’t try to prevent it.

    You’ve also been saying that people are too sensitive, and that they need to let this stuff roll off their back, but really, who are you to tell someone else how they should feel about this, or how they should respond to it?

  • My husband is from Latin America, I speak Spanish and have lived there. If a woman is whistled at, called things like mamacita or whatever, as she walks by, she ignores it, quickens her step and does not respond. Because she is una mujer decente and such vulgarity gets no response. I absolutely look straight ahead, keep walking purposefully and do not answer back. Except the other evening, an older Latin guy said hey, baby, I knew he barely spoke English, and I just smiled.

  • DCDire: Too right. Leading by example and (especially with kids) calling them out, not in an irate out-of-control manner, but firmly with some tact are ways to deal with the general problem of respect.

    Now, obviously, a 5′ tall woman (unless she’s a 5′ tall mean, nail-spittin’ woman like Lil’ Gal) isn’t going to dress down a grown man on the street, but a ten year old? You can’t blame them for acting like a child if you aren’t willing to be the adult.

    Shaking your head (metaphorically) and uttering stale stereotypical platitudes about the “lower classes” only reinforces bad behavior. There is nothing “upper class” about respect, and the most diabolical behaviors I’ve seen in my life haven’t happened on Georgia Avenue.

  • I am so sick of it that I’m actually planning a move. I want to return to a world where I don’t dread taking my dog for a walk because of what I will probably encounter. Three years and I’ve had my fill.

    Men aggressively standing in my path and staring me down. Comments about the “fucking white people.” Group of boys throwing rocks at my boyfriend and I. One guy threatened to stab me once because I didn’t acknowledge his comment. Unfortunately I don’t speak spanish, so I have no idea what those are about.

    I have definitely found myself in situations that could have easily turned out badly if I hadn’t acted smart and aware.

    I agree with walking with authority and no eye contact.

  • PS. I want to send out a big heartfelt THANK YOU to the guy on the bus earlier this year that stopped the hispanic fellow on the bus from grabbing me. I don’t know your name, but I remember your face and the deep gratitude I felt. I tried ignoring him and when he started to take it a step too far you jumped in, stopped him, and switched seats with me.

  • My hats off to those that choose to live there and put up with this, there are options. Nobody should have to live in fear.

  • Now, when I said shank some motherfuckers, this is example from missed connections is also acceptable and encouraged.

    to the perv who groped me on my way home – w4m – 30 (Mt. Pleasant)

    Me: caucasian, white yoga capris and tan tank top
    you: Latino, 5′8, in your twenties, sports jersey, short hair, mole on your face.

    You might have been following me for a while, Mr. Perv, I don’t know – I was on the phone with my mother, venting about my roommate situation (we had to find a new one) and my job search (like, I need a job), when you snuck up behind me, and gently squeezed my ass. Not just the top of my ass, but kinda low, kinda close to my you-know-what, if you know what I mean.

    You know, even my boyfriend needs permission to get that close, so having a perfect stranger attempt access so suddenly, so completely out of the blue, triggered my fight-or-flight response. And I *fight*. Did it hurt when I grabbed your collar and punched you in the head? I’m a little worried that I didn’t get enough momentum in my swing to make you feel it, seeing as I’m kinda short (5′2″). But you must have felt bad when you took off running and I chased you down so easily – it’s not that you’re slow, dude, it’s just that I run fast, as you might have suspected from the well-muscled form of my posterior, had you been viewing it with its athletic potential in mind.

    It was all worth it when you realized you couldn’t outrun me and so you stopped with your back to me in shame, and I kicked you in your hole. You might not remember, but I said: “Are you sorry? Are you sorry? Say you’re sorry!”, and you did. That was great. Then I said: “run on home, you asshole! Run home!” and you did that, too!

    Ladies, these pervs are cowards who run in fear when confronted with any kind of resistance. They are weak and pathetic.

    To the two guys who came out of their houses when they heard me yelling – thank you for being so aware and willing to help out-especially – Chris, was it? – who walked me home. It’s great to know the people here care about the safety of others. Thanks so much.

    My mom was really worried, because she heard me start swearing and then the phone went dead (I closed it so I could chase the motherf*cker down) and she thought I had been hit by a car. When I told her what happened, she told me not to be so agro, and pointed out that he could of had a knife or something. True. You’re right, mom.

    But you’re unlucky if you’re from this neighborhood, Mr. Perv. Cause I’m here ALL THE TIME (no job, remember?) and next time I’ll MACE YOUR FACE.

  • Wow! Now we’re comparing “hey baby, you look good, come talk to me” with the institutions of slavery, and with robbery, rape, murder, and with general notions of equality? I can’t really take those analogies very seriously.

    When the boys were whistling at my ex I didn’t challenge them because my ex immediately started flirting with them and talking to them, so I assumed she wasn’t upset with them. In other words, sometimes just walking down the street IS seeking that attention. Now if you’re the guy doing the whistling, and every now and then a woman is receptive to that whistling, you’re probably going to do it again sometime.

    I do not agree that women or men have the right to walk down a public street or sidewalk with the expectation that no one will talk to them. Women and men have the right to be in public and not be assaulted or be threatened with assault or harassed. But they do NOT have the right to be “left alone.” Or not looked at or not spoken to. The right to be treated “regularly” means sometimes being hit on in public, absent violence or threat of violence.

  • I was a part of a class once here in the city that discussed how to deal with sexual harrassment on the street. The advice for women, was A: dont escalate the situation with cuss words or insults back. B: if you do respond it should be something very direct and with a stated feeling and alternative behaviours, example: “It makes me feel uncomfortable and degraded when you say “—–“. In the future please say “good morning maam(or what youd like to hear)”. I know one very pettit female friend of mine who used this strategy here in the city when a man roughly complemented her on her breasts. He was so taken aback that he stammered good morning maam, over and over as she walked by.

    Also for women you can try to bring attention to the harrasser. If hes standing to close to you or making inappropriate comments call him out specifically: “excuse me can i get everyones attention, this man right here in the red baseball cap and blue shoes keeps putting his hand on my thigh and telling me —-. Could everyone here please take a second and help me identify this man and what he is doing.” I know it sounds corny, but i gaurantee you that will shut up the harassers real fast.

    Another big thing is that us Men need to stand up for women when he here them being harrassed. Dont pick fights, but the most effective thing we were taught was to turn to the harrasers and say in a firm voice “Stop harrasing women, I dont like it, no one likes it, show some respect.” this phrase opens them to society judging them and not just you picking a fight.

  • This conversation has taken such a depressing turn. I feel like we’re all people of good will here — no one has said “Hell yeah, I harass women and I LIKE IT!” and yet, we’re still so far apart on this one.

    All I can say is that for the men who are saying “well, it’s not that big a deal sometimes” — YOU are not the guys who are the problem. You are not the ones who escalate a seemingly innocuous comment into something that is much more scary. Please, please, please believe me — please go back and read some of these comments — that a “threat of assault” doesn’t always start off with “hey lady, I’d like to assault you. I am threatening violence right now!” It often starts off with just what you’re talking about, being “hit on in public.” And sometimes you cannot know what is friendly, and what is not.

    DCDireWolf, if you know that being eyed and looked up and down is degrading and unfair — you said as much to Kalia — why are you defending it so? Why are you telling folks that they have to deal with it? We know that some men are going to engage in this behavior no matter what. But do we have to deal with men who know better saying that it is tacitly okay?

    I KNOW that it’s something I have to deal with; I’ve been dealing with it since puberty — probably more than you have had to deal with women hitting on you when you walk down the street. But I wouldn’t expect someone to tell me that it’s all right just because it happens. Lots of bad things happen, and people deal with them in their own way. Some women flirt back, that’s their deal. But that doesn’t make this activity acceptable, just because some people accept it. That’s like saying that it’s okay to sell drugs on the street corner, as long as the people who live around there aren’t bothered by it.

  • “That’s like saying that it’s okay to sell drugs on the street corner, as long as the people who live around there aren’t bothered by it.”

    It’s a topic for another post I guess, but I somewhat agree with that statement. If the people there don’t mind, it arguably is okay. I don’t really have a problem with non-violent street commerce.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s not cool to impose a blanket cultural ban on men looking at women or speaking to women in public. That’s ridiculous, it goes too far.

  • Dcdirewolf. You want to know how to get men to stop catcalling? if every other frikkin guy out there will stand up for the women around him and refuse to let it slide, if women stand their ground and let their displeasure known. In other words if we do nothing it will continue, but if we make it a culture that makes clear this behavior is not acceptable, then yes we can stop it because peer pressure is the main cause in cat calling, Men enabling other men to keep up the self inflating cat calls.

  • I’m talking about what you are calling “being hit on in public.” “Speaking to women in public” is not how this thread started. Is “Que Puta” harmless cat-calling, as long as the guy didn’t put his hands on the woman in question? How about hey bitch? I’ve asked this before, but I’m not sure I got an answer — what do you consider “harmless catcalling?” Does anything go as long as you don’t use profanity? As long as you don’t follow the woman? What if you follow but don’t touch? What if you touch but don’t hurt? Who gets to come up with rules for how much is allowable — the man, or the woman?

    I feel like part of the problem may be that we keep using terms without defining them. I feel like you think I’m saying a guy should be kneed in the groin for saying “good morning.” But you’ve said that you agree that being eyed and cat-called to some extent is degrading, but it’s a degradation that a woman should be expected to endure (I feel like that’s what you’re saying now, please tell me if I’m misinterpreting this) That she shouldn’t let it bother her so much. I think that’s an opinion you’re entitled to hold, but I don’t think it should be too surprising that there are at least some women who prefer not to be degraded at all. Maybe “que puta!” is harmless cat-calling to you, but it’s not to someone else. And she does have a right to feel that way.

    DCDireWolf, I don’t think you are the problem. I would have no fear meeting you in a dark alley (assuming I knew who you were, of course.) But you’ve got to see that you’ve set up a situation where a woman is expected to be able to read a man’s mind and know his intent, so that she can know whether to be “bothered” or not. Wouldn’t it be easier if we all just spoke to each other kindly and politely, without the sexual, “hitting on” part of the equation? If we manage this in office situations (more or less) then why can’t it be managed on the street?

  • “Wow! Now we’re comparing “hey baby, you look good, come talk to me” with the institutions of slavery, and with robbery, rape, murder, and with general notions of equality? I can’t really take those analogies very seriously.”

    You missed the point. I wasn’t saying that catcalling is an offense equal to slavery or rape. In fact, the whole crux of my argument is that street harassment is a far, far lesser offense than something like slavery – so far lesser you can’t even put them in the same ballpark. Yet, slavery – which was the norm for most of human history – was abolished. If we could abolish something that’s such a huge offense, why can’t we abolish something that’s trivial in comparison? Why should catcalling be any different?

    And since you didn’t answer, I’ll ask again: who are you to dictate how a woman should feel about being accosted on the street? Who are you to tell women that they’re being too sensitive?

  • I think profanity filled statements are harassing and unacceptable. In fact, public profanity is usually against the law, at least on paper.

    I think looking a woman up and down, while offensive, cannot possibly be and should not be prohibited behavior. No one should be able to stop someone else from looking at them in a certain way. That’s just too much control over a human being’s liberty.

    You summarized my sentiment as “But you’ve said that you agree that being eyed and cat-called to some extent is degrading, but it’s a degradation that a woman should be expected to endure”

    Id’ say that I agree that a woman has every right to feel degraded by cat calling. What I don’t agree is that men should be forced to stop cat calling (again, as long as it’s not an assault or threat of one). Some shit in public life is degrading, annoying, and just makes ya mad! That’s the way the world works. Sure, we’d prefer it not to happen at all, but that’s a dream world. People have a right to be who they are short of injuring others. The guy on the corner has a right to be a pig, to a limit. I don’t like the idea of having cultural norms be like the thought police.

    It’s not right, in my view, to expect everyone to speak kindly and politely to each other in public. People have a right to be assholes. You have every right to not like it and to talk back to these guys and tell them to stop, so do I. I’m not against doing that at all.

    I just think a lot of the time, it would make more sense to concentrate on the truly dangerous behavior rather than get angry at the construction workers on the corner whistling or ogling. They have every right to whistle and ogle as you do to not appreciate it.

    As for offices, I think a lot of men are now scared to say anything nice to women in the office for fear of being accused of sexual harassment. That’s at least what I hear a lot of men say in the places I’ve worked over the years. That doesn’t mean we should put up with sexual harassment, it just means we can go too far sometimes in trying to force behavior.

    I do think it’s possible to be too sensitive about some of this.

    As for the dark alley part, I didn’t think we were talking about people hanging out in dark alleys, that’s not really the public sidewalk I was talking about. Any dude hanging out in a dark alley talking to women should be considered a dangerous threat and needs to be arrested.

  • I have to agree with everything Christina has been saying here.

    Obviously, no one is saying that men should be ashamed for even daring to speak to a woman on the street. I live in Columbia Heights, and a few weeks ago a man gave me a sincere and polite compliment, gave me his card, and asked me to call him. Nothing wrong with that.

    Most of the time, it doesn’t happen that way. Most of the time, I’m just walking along and as I pass a guy, he mutters something under his breath or yells something. It might be a simple, “hey baby”, which could seem completely harmless to someone like DCDireWolf, but let me tell you, it is often unsettling. The bad guys don’t walk around with “RAPIST” printed on their foreheads, so how are we women to know what these types of men intend? Even something as harmless as “hey baby” can be said in such a way, or can be delivered with such a look that the woman feels degraded/awkward/unsale – take your pick. I once was walking home at night and passed 3 Latino guys, one who was drunk and being physically supported by the other 2. The drunk winked and made kissing noises at me. I suppose that sounds pretty non-threatening, but it made me feel disgusting and all I wanted to do was rush home. That is not right.

    And DCDireWolf, I really resent your insistence that either some practical solution should be provided for this problem, or us women should just allow it to roll off our backs. This topic requested input from women in the neighbhorhood on the subject of street harrassment. We are all just sharing our experiences and annoyances. Yet in order for us to do this, you’re saying we must also present a practical and comprehensive plan, or otherwise just pipe down and accept that life is “less than perfect”?

  • Feeling degraded and communicating that feeling is one thing. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Any woman who feels degraded by a cat call and/or a look is fully entitled to feel that way. Just as the few women who don’t mind it are entitled to feel that as well.

    But it goes both ways, people are also free to feel and act like pigs too, short of committing crimes, and communicate their pigginess.

    You want the pigs to stop being pigs. Okay, ask them to stop, any way you feel fit, but if they don’t want to stop, they shouldn’t be forced to stop. Being a pig isn’t, and shouldn’t be, prohibited by law or culture. People should be able to be who they are.

  • “Yet in order for us to do this, you’re saying we must also present a practical and comprehensive plan, or otherwise just pipe down and accept that life is “less than perfect”?”

    Well . . . yes, sort of.

    I mean, you can complain all you want, it’s a forum, go for it. But what’s the point of complaining about something without adding ideas on how to change things? Complaining simply to complain seems a lot like running in circles. And actually, a lot of people in this forum DID indeed offer suggestions.

  • And I think it’s completely unfair to assume that every man that says “hey baby” is a rapist!

  • The “dark alley” thing was just my way of paying a compliment. 🙂

    I’m not even talking about “forcing men to stop.” I’m talking about men like you, of good will, feeling that such behavior is culturally acceptable, which gives tacit permission. If you had, or have, a child, I’m sure you wouldn’t be raising him or her to act like a pig. Because I think that in some ways, you don’t actually believe that such behavior *is* right, otherwise you’d do it yourself.

    I’m in agree-to-disagree territory, but DCDireWolf, I want to thank you for engaging me thoughtfully on this. Having conversations is a first step to understanding.

  • Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see anyone here proposing that catcalling should be regulated by the police.

    If this were a topic about kids on the metro with their music on too loud, and we were all sharing our experiences with loud kids and how they’re really irritating, would you constantly state that we should all just get over it because it’s not going to change and the government has no business regulating iPod volume?

    Why is it whenever women express dissatisfaction over the way they’re treated, we also immediatley need to be able to provide some grand justification for voicing our complaints? I just find it very strange how focused you are on that.

  • And, uh…hey baby, you wanna go out? 😉

  • DCDireWolf,
    The issue of this post was asking women if they also were experiencing scary and negative harrassment while walking on the street. It isn’t a blanket statement when we responded with a hell yeah we have experienced it, daily, and we dislike it, fear it, etc. It is not a blanket statement to say that we can’t tell the difference from one “hey baby” to another where one is just “hey baby=hi you are attractive and I would like to get you a cup of coffee sometime” or “hey baby=I’m going to follow you home and rape you in the alley where you family can identify your broken naked discarded body which was found in rock creek park” We don’t always know the intention behind it and it isn’t fair for us to have to make the decision of how to respond to these and then be called “cranky” or “whiney”. It is also completely rude to yell at a woman like she is a dog. You don’t know me how about some respect? Come over and talk to me. How is it fair we are getting pinged as women who are rude for not looking up and smiling back at someone who was rude to us to begin with? Like I said before, we are talking about men who are rudely cat calling which is completely different than being hit on politely. One way consists of someone following me in a van honking their horn saying “hey baby” while the other is a guy who walks up to me and says “hi my name is so and so…I wanted to say hi…” That is the difference. We are not complaining about these polite come ons. Just the scary inappropriate ones.

  • Try not to be so literal. “Rapist” was an example. Talk about missing the point.

    Besides, “Weird guy who might follow me home/curse me out” is too long to be printed on anyone’s forehead.

    Kalia – you are right on.

  • If you want to say “hey women, men will be pigs, accept it and deal” well DCDireWolf, women will also act like bitches than to men, for talking to them whether nice or not, maybe you should deal with that instead of criticising us for not even giving nice men a chance. It goes both ways. You blame women for making it hard for even nice guys to approach them…maybe you should blame the reason women have their defenses up…blame instead, the men who made them feel they have to act this way. If you don’t like it, change it. That means standing up for women when you see it happening. That means telling people that it isn’t right and we shouldn’t just deal with it accepting it because it is what it is.

  • Yeah, i think maybe we’ve reached the point where continued back and forth just rehashes the same points, for everyone.

    It has been a pleasure Christina, and the rest of you, to discuss this issue. I’d accept your cat call invitation, but I’d never figure out how to explain it to my wife. 🙂

    Peace everyone, best of luck negotiating the streets of D.C.

  • Remember that time Tyra put a fat suit and she experienced live as a fat person!

    hmm. Didn’t think so. Its a true story!

    Some of the men commenting need to become women for a week to experience to bullshit we have to put up with. Then some y’all who believe we are introverted overly sensitive crazies will realize that walking in the street, going about your life, is sometimes so fucking annoying to scary. Maybe only 1 in 10 says something crazy or crosses my personal line (and I’m pretty forgiving although i truly want to cut them), but if you are getting 10 different hollas in the 2 block walk from 16th to 14th on Irving– it make walking down the street a little ridiculous.

    It is a privledge that men enjoy.

  • Just found this conversation, here are some points:

    1. If a man is being a “pig” to me (whether the proposition is explicit or not) I will be a “rude” back to him. Yeah, we can’t change men’s ways and I don’t plan to change my “bitchy” ways and take it while I smile. There are women out there (none that I know of) that like it. I guess you can’t change the world and women (as usual) would have to deal with this till the end of time.
    2. As a latina I don’t appreciate people that say that in Latino cultures it is “ok” to harass women. I’ve lived in a non-central American or Mexican Latin American country for half of my life and while cat calling and groping is VERY common, it is certainly not accepted and not appreciated.
    3. On solutions: I’ve been groped in the old country and I’ve beaten the guy, he tried to run. I’ve been cat called very explicitly and responded with insults, guys acted surprised . I’ve ignored people and been called a bitch and have been attacked. However, I would try the recommendations by “conrad” on the class he took, they seem as something that might throw these pervs off.
    4. Most violent encounter: Literally in front of my building, back when I lived in U Street area when walking back home at night. Group of guys in their 20s pulled up next to me on their car and started cat calling “mami.. (I’m obviously latina so of course I have to be mami, spicy, caliente, mamasita, Maria, etc for these fools) come over here… explicit…” I ignored them, they told me I wasn’t that pretty anyway (this is the usual response when you ignore these fools) and as they accelerated one of them threw a bottle full of water at me and it hit me in the leg. It was thrown with such force that it left a big bruise that stayed for a while and pain that hurt for more than a week. I was perplexed, I could not believe what happened to me and the only thing I could think of doing at that moment is to limp back to my apartment and cry of anger, pain and disbelief…

    And, no I did not get their tag numbers, I was ignoring them remember?

    This kind of taunting dehumanizes you, specially when you do what people advise you to do when you get cat called (just ignore them) and then you get attacked.
    It is not OK that there is people out there that think it is ok to solicit, harass, or hurt somebody because they want their ego busted, or their d***k sucked, or because once, in their 20, 30 year experience of cat calling women, it has worked a couple of times.

    I know I can’t change the World by sharing my experiences here (or what some other people would call “bitching”), I don’t have the solution to the problem that people in this discussion ask for, I know that it is beyond me changing the attitude of million of men on this earth… It just angers me to know that I have to deal with these pigs because as one of the people in this board so eloquently put it: “sometimes just walking down the street IS seeking that attention.”

    sorry for rambling…

  • dont be sorry

  • E- Preach sista!

  • I ran “Don’t Be Silent” (linked upthread) from March ’07 to this March. I had to stop it because keeping up with it got to be too much (that, and I was sick of all the abuse I was dealing with online because of it). I did try to rally volunteers to help me with the site, but there were no takers.

    Though I no longer run the blog, I am still constantly documenting the harassment, be it taking down license plate numbers (if I can catch them), taking photos, and even taking video recordings of the offenders (I haven’t gotten the harassment as it happens on tape, but just having their images and reactions to my response is enough for me). I don’t leave my house for the pleasure of these men, I leave the house for myself.

    Since I moved this spring, I feel the harassment’s gotten worse. I live in the transitional part of my neighborhood (up north is nice, the southern part needs a lot of work), and am constantly dealing with sketchy guys hanging out on street corners, guys stalking me in their cars (one group drove by three times—twice they tried to “holla” at me, but the third time they were thwarted by a group of gay men/transgendered women who came out of their house ready to protect me from the drivers), and rowdy-ass kids who don’t know how to let people walk down a street in peace.

    There are times when I feel maybe it was hasty of me to stop the blog, but in the same token it’s not like I’ve stopped working towards stopping street harassment. I still get an occasional e-mail from a reader, and I still respond to them (depending on its context).

    To the original topic, race and street harassment, all I can say is that it varies from person to person. I am a Black female and the bulk of my harassment is from Black men. I’m a blip on the radar to White guys for the most part, but Black men constantly have a comment or a gesture for me, be it “Hey, baby,” “Yo, Gorgeous,” “Whaddup, Light-Skinned (I hate that colorist nonsense),” or inappropriate touching (one guy pinched me in the crook of my arm) or getting too close. And yes, too often for my tastes I’ve been called “ugly” for not responding to their advances. I don’t know what makes Black harassers target me specifically, but my theories are that misogynistic behavior from watching the explicit videos (coupled with a lack of role models at home), or a sort of “trickle-down” anger—Black men being ostracized so they take it out on a group even “lower on the totem pole” than they are, that being Black women.

    I got one e-mail from a biracial (half-Black, half-White) who said there are Black security guards at her internship, and that she’s the only Black intern at her job. The security guards are cordial to the White workers, but the guards are overly friendly with her, catcalling and giving “compliments.” They rush to open the door for her when they weren’t even anywhere near the door, and one got too close to her that she felt his business while walking by. Yuck. She said they catcall to her all the time. I gave her advice on how to handle it (reporting them), and hope things have gotten better for her. Once again, I don’t know why specific race harassers target specific race harassees. It just shows that race doesn’t matter in terms of harassment.

    It is frustrating to deal with this nonsense on an almost daily basis. I dread leaving the house because I know it’s going to happen. To the person upthread who said to “deal with it,” no, no one should have to deal with it. It is sickening to deal with men old enough to be your grandfather and boys young enough to be your kid brother deluging you with these disgusting comments and actions. Enough is enough. And to someone upthread who said this doesn’t happen in places like Woodley Park: Well, this Saturday I walked down a street in Cleveland Park and some man slowed his SUV to say “Hey, beautiful” in that sexual tone to me. This mess sadly happens everywhere and anywhere. I cannot stand these “compliments” from these men. I know I’m attractive and I don’t need their validation. If they need something to visually stimulate themselves, they need to lock their tired asses at home with a porn magazine or something. Leave us women trying to go about our days alone.

    Maybe in future (if I can get volunteers to help me), I might restart “Don’t Be Silent.” I just cannot shoulder the burden alone. And if I did, things would change so it’ll be a more productive blog. There’s just too much going on with street harassment in DC and DC needs a place to vent about it again.

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