Friday Question of the Day – Street Harassment Part 2

Scary Shorts!, originally uploaded by JUDGE DREDD76.


Back in April we had a FQoTD about street harassment. Now I don’t mean to be insensitive but I have to follow up on this question. You see, today as I was walking home from the metro I saw a woman wearing very similar shorts to the one from flickr above. And it got me thinking about this issue again. Let me just say I don’t mean to imply that anyone deserves harassment based on the clothes that they wear. I’m just wondering if it’s a smart choice in certain sections of the city where street harassment is a known problem. God knows, I hope women will be able to wear whatever they want to wear in any neighborhood of the city.

But it reminded me of when I was a kid going into NYC before NYC became much safer. When I would travel to the City I would always put my wallet in my front pocket. And I even remember school trips where they would tell those who wore jewelry to leave it at home. (There were lots of jewelry snatchings back then.) Of course nobody deserved to get there jewelery stolen but it was considered a prudent choice to leave it at home or put your wallet in your front pocket.

Anyway, my question is that maybe it’s not a good idea to wear shorts like this on certain streets, particularly if you are by yourself. Again, I’m totally disgusted and appalled by the street harassment stories we have heard. But isn’t it a good idea to dress slightly more modestly to avoid such unpleasantness? Or is that kind of like letting the terrorists win? I’m totally sincere with this query. I don’t know what the “right” answer is. I’m guessing there might be a slippery slope argument here. And I know there are harassers who would happily torment a woman regardless of what she is wearing. Like I said, I’m conflicted on this one.

So I thought I’d throw it out there for a FQoTD – in known street harassment areas should one choose their dress more cautiously?

68 Comment

  • (First off, clothing like * those * shorts, which clearly cross the line, are to be avoided in any public arena. If I passed her on the street, I’d probably tap her on the shoulder, smile condescendingly, and say something along the lines of, “Oh, honey. No.”)

    I assume PoP is referring to any sort of tight/short/cleave-y/suggestive clothing. In a way, it’s asking for commentary- but it is in no way asking for sex in any form. (even if the clothing in question compares to the attire of our wonderful DC street walkers)

    I am a “curvier”-type woman, definitely not Ms. Fit or Ms. Skinny. I wear boring, nerdy teachers’ clothing. I wear dork glasses, and rarely do anything to my hair. I’m not, in any way shape or form, a hot tamale. But not a day goes by that someone doesn’t say something (with a sexual connotation) to me on the street or in public. Some of this stems from the ol’ “black men love the curvy ladies with the pretty face” thing, but it’s still a case-in-point. In my experiences, and from what I hear from my hot friends, it truly does not seem to matter what a woman wears.

    Not much of an opinion I guess, just some observations/experiences from a female point of view.

  • Good idea to never wear those shorts. I remember seeing the prostitutes on L Street wearing panty hose with the built-in underpants – but no other lower cover-up, and this has that icky flavor.

  • “But it reminded me of when I was a kid going into NYC before NYC became much safer.” So true. New York City has been like a playground for at least decade. Its totally lost street cred. Might as well say you’re from/used to live in Orlando.

  • Harassment is not always about the clothes a person is wearing or the way a person looks. As with most types of gender-based violence and discrimination it is about power. By your logic (and I know this is not where you were going with your query) all women should be walking around certain areas of the city- I’m guessing you’re thinking of areas with large latino segments- in burqas.

    I’ve asked your question to myself a time or two, but hate myself for it afterward. And hate that sometimes I do think about that wort of harassment, that I’m forced to, when I get dressed to leave the house sometimes

  • Temperance, modesty should be the rule not the exceptipn conscientiously, one should be judicious on what they choose, also bear responsibility if too provocative.

  • Actually, in this day and age when most folks have iPods stuffed in their ears or are talking away on their cell phones, I’m surprised this is still a problem…and I’m not being flip, I’m being totally serious about this.

  • People should be able to walk the streets and not be harassed regardless of what they’re wearing. Unfortunately, your grandma could be dressed in a head-to-toe burqa and you’d still have guys grabbing their crotch and making smootchy noises. It’s not about appearance. It’s about the rush of degrading another person to make yourself feel important. This isn’t limited to gender-specific harassment, either.

    The purpose of immodest dress is to draw attention. Unfortunately, most of the attention you end up getting is from people you don’t want to attract.

  • I’m with the earlier commenters that no one should wear those “shorts” in public ever. That being said, I don’t like the idea of having to “dress modestly” because of street harassers. I already have to steel myself to walk out the door in the mornings once it gets warm- god forbid that the guys working on the new condos across the street (or in front of the takeout on the corner, or the bus stop, or whatever) should let me walk by in peace if I’m wearing a skirt. At times it’s been bad enough that I’ve considered leaving the house in sweatpants for a night out and changing a friend’s closer to our destination. The fact that I’ve even considered that infuriates me.

    Bottom line- no one should wear shorts like that ever, and I shouldn’t have to be “modestly dressed” to leave my house. One person’s modestly dressed is another person’s burqa. It’s an EXTREMELY slippery slope that I’d rather not be a part of.

  • Hiding your wallet and valuables makes it more difficult for a mugger to carry out their intent.
    But wearing conservative clothing does not make it harder for a sleazeball to carry out his verbal intent. He can do it just as easily whether you are wearing a string bikini or a burqa.

    It isn’t an accurate comparison.

  • I really don’t think it matters much what women wear in public. I have been harrassed looking pretty gross out walking my dog (think no shower, no makeup, and sweats). The person wearing those shorts probably just wears what they want because it doesn’t matter. She will be harrassed in those shorts or harrassed wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt.

    Street harrassment isn’t about the “clothes” and this post was obviously written by some one who hasn’t experienced harrassment. To make the suggestion that the clothing choice of a person somehow increases their chance of harrassment is just plain wrong. I know it wasn’t written with that intent of blaming the victim but it does put some of the burden on the victim where it doesn’t belong.

  • I agree with Julie where it really doesn’t matter what you wear, there will be comments. While i understand people get offended, no one has ever taken it too far, and i’ve come to realize that I will probably miss it when my youth is gone and it never happens to me. An occasional ‘ey mammi!’ has more just boosted my ego a bit. Some can go a bit far, but most are completely harmless.

  • If you would like to report street harassment and help break the cycle of scumbags please go here . Street harassment is never ok and can sometimes lead to much worse things as these men get even more bold.

    POP I couldnt figure out how to make the above a hyperlink..little help please?

  • Are shorts like that decent to wear in public? Probably not. But does that mean a woman who is wearing something like that, or something similarly revealing is more likely or “deserves” to get harassed on the street? No. Will she likely get more attention? Sure. But that doesn’t mean she deserves to or should expect to get harassed. As Monkeyrotica and woman have said well, it isn’t about the clothes you wear but rather a way a man can show his power over you.

    And as others have said, I have been equally cat-called wearing short skirts and heels as I have wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts. I’ve been cat-called in Columbia Heights and in my suburban hometown of upperclass grossness in Massachusetts. It has nothing to do with what you wear, nor even what area of the city you’re in. And I think women modifying what they wear won’t make a difference nor should they even have to modify anything about what they do. It’s the men cat-calling that need to step up and realize behavior like this isn’t OK.

  • No matter what I’m wearing (which is nowhere near crossing the line of inappropriate), every time I approach a group of men, I brace myself for harassment. Usually I just cross the street if I see ahead that I’d have to walk past men hanging out on the street.

    It is always a relief in the rare occasion that a gentleman will simply say, “good morning!”

  • Those shorts are just visual pollution. Sort of like short tops on people (men & women) with spare tires spilling over waistbands. People dress in all sorts of ways that are offensive to the eyes. It is worse during tourist season…. pastey legs and cottage cheese thighs wearing lime green neon colored t-shirts….
    Street harrassment can occur regardless of what you’re wearing but what you’re wearing can trigger it too in people looking for excuse. What immediately comes to mind is a period over on Q Street when white males dressed nicely (suit, tie, etc) had homesexual epiteths hurled at them, regardless of if they were gay or not, by the boyz in the hood that hung out on that street.

  • Making suggestive comments is all about power or the desire to project power. So to many a rude commenter, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the woman is wearing. Those of us who have better taste than the female in the picture are aware that the comments being made to us have little to do with how we look or are dressed, and are all about some obnoxious man trying to exert power/influence by getting a rise out of women knowing how much most of us hate it. Not only are we annoyed by the substance of the comments but for me at least, we may be more annoyed by intent behind the comments.

    On the one hand people should have the right to wear what they want without the suggestive comments. On the other hand I sometimes think that women who wear stuff like those “shorts” either don’t care about the comments or actually like sort of get a thrill.

  • It sure would be nice if we stopped condoning cultures that allow men to behave so poorly. Then women could dress as scantily as they pleased (it gets hot and humid in DC, don’t be a hater). But then we would be opening a whole nother can of intolerance. But isn’t it ok to be intolerant of behavior that should not be tolerated?

  • Since this is an anonymous site, I feel free to opine about this – so take it in the spirit it was given. I am a 21st century guy, but I am also a hetero. I would never, never cat call or make any obscene gestures.

    That said, if a woman dresses like that, I am going to look and look bigtime. Isnt that the whole point of dressing like that – you want to attract looks? In that case I am very happy to oblige.

  • I share many of the female woes, worrying about leaving the house in the morning, wondering if I’m showing too much ankle…and like most women I get some sort of comment, whether I’m dressed in a wool coat from neck to feet or jeans and a t-shirt. I’ve never understood why men feel compelled to do this (I realize it isn’t all men, and I’m not going to bash any one)..but the explanations that have been offered…that men do this to project some sort of power…I don’t fully understand them. It’s not that I don’t agree, but I’m just exactly does this make a man feel powerful? Because he knows he is intimidating me? Making my otherwise pleasant day sour? What sort of man feels good about that?

  • It’s obvious that women should be forced to wear burqas so men won’t misbehave.

  • Cottage Cheese…..EWWW!!

  • I have to agree with a lot of the comments so far. It’s so not about what someone is wearing even. I’ve gotten shit from people wearing all a whole range of clothes. It’s about power, not about sexual attraction.

  • not telling said: “Hiding your wallet and valuables makes it more difficult for a mugger to carry out their intent. But wearing conservative clothing does not make it harder for a sleazeball to carry out his verbal intent”

    Agreed. The comparison is not quite apt. Street harassment is more about the harasser wanting to feel powerful and superior and in control than it is about what the walker is wearing.

    And to M’s question about why men might feel more powerful when they do this, I don’t think it’s necessarily a conscious thing. The harasser is probably not thinking “I want to feel powerful, so I am going to catcall this woman walking by.” It’s more of a subconscious, culturally-inherited thing. Lots of cultures, including our own, subtly or unsubtly reinforce the idea of women’s bodies as public property AND often give men social status for being loud, invasive, and obnoxious. So I think a man could harass without an internal conversation about power and privilege. People who feel entitled rarely think about their entitlement, they just live it.

  • And let us not forget that this is not just a ‘men harrassing women’ issue. It happens the other way around too. And despite the collective voice of society telling women they should be offended by harrassment and men should be flattered by it, its still unsettling when it happens to me…

  • I agree that the clothes a woman is wearing seem to have little bearing on how much she gets harassed, and that in a perfect world nobody should have to contemplate how their outfit will be received by catcalling jackasses. However, there is a part of me that sees a woman dressed in a manner like our ass-baring friend above, and think that maybe she wants the attention? Because having your ass literally strangled by your shorts is not comfortable, and I can’t think of many reasons to wear those. I’m not some super modest nun type, and I certainly don’t think anyone is “asking for it.” But if you’re going to be judged and catcalled on whatever you display, regardless of how little, why would someone display so much?

  • Please add my voice to the chorus of “street harassment has absolutely *nothing* to do with what a woman wears.”

    Every single time I leave my house, I have to emotionally brace myself for when some guy or group of guys says something inappropriate, sexual or downright ugly to me. It doesn’t matter what I wear, where I am, or whether I smile or not. Men, and it is *always* men, feel utterly and totally entitled to comment on my body, my clothes and/or exactly how they’d like to touch me.

    This happens every single day I walk on the street.

    To suggest that if I somehow dress differently this wouldn’t happen is at the very best naive, and at worst, victim-blaming. Naive because as it’s been stated repeatedly here, women get catcalled constantly no matter what they wear, and victim-blaming because you’re implying that somehow, some way, I am responsible for the unwanted attention that is heaped upon me and if I’d just dress a little differently, it wouldn’t happen.

    Lastly: catcalls aren’t about sex. It’s fine when someone says politely that I look nice. But when men hang out windows screaming at me or follow me on the street, they’re not actually trying to get in my pants, they’re trying to show me that they can do or say whatever they want to me.

    It’s about power. And I *hate* it.

  • I’ve found that, if walking by a group of men, it’s best to say hello first, just in a friendly way as you pass them. It catches them off guard, takes all their power away (you’re a person now, not an object), and I usually get a friendly response. If I look straight ahead and ignore them, that’s when they are more likely to engage in this sort of behavior.

  • I clicked on this photo – it was taken in EUROPE not DC, I sort of wonder why we’re even discussing it. It’s not like we’re getting plagued by women in DC walking around with their butt cheeks hanging out (and in this country, there would at least be a tan line). DC is a pretty conservative place. I second others in this chat who’ve been saying that harrassment has nothing to do with what you’re wearing, anyway.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @PetworthRes The only reason I wrote this post was because I saw a woman wearing almost identical shorts walking home from the metro.

  • So, I also agree that what one wears has little bearing on to what kind of harassment one will be subjected. My own anecdotal evidence, though, refutes my own conclusion. My metro-to-work walk includes a trip through a construction zone. Generally, stereotypes of leering construction workers do not hold, except the day I deigned to wear a rather conservative dress and received quite a few unwelcome words. My usual jeans or trousers elicit no such remarks. This is by no means an everyday occurrence and I find it unfortunate others feel subjected to harassment daily. I am in a perpetual state of fast-walking-straight-ahead-glaring, but I can’t imagine that makes much of a difference. Maybe I’m not attractive enough? Well, it has its benefits!

  • I think Street Harassment does have some play in what you wear. Will you get harassed at least once in your life no matter what you wear? Yes.
    If you walk around DC in a string bikini are you likely to get harassed more then if you just wore jeans and a t-shirt? Most definitely.

    And I would compare it to getting your wallet stolen in New York. Just because your wallet is in your front pocket doesn’t mean it can’t be stolen. It’s just more likely to get stolen if it’s in your back pocket. Same with street harassment. Will you get it if you wear very modest clothing? Yes. Is it more likely you will get harassed if you wear uber short shorts and a really tight top. Most definitely.

  • First, using your own example with the wallet, would you be conflicted if a person kept their wallet in the back of their pants? Most likely not. You wouldn’t blame that person that got robbed for that. You would probably get angry that someone even dared to touch that person and take their wallet. Why isn’t that the same sentiment we feel towards street harassment?

    Second, we are all indoctrinated to think that what a person wears matters. We get that. But, that doesn’t mean that areas should be restricted because it is a sticky i-need-to-wear-my-thin-dress type of weather. We aren’t saying don’t view people and what they are wearing. But we are saying not to view people, particularly women, particularly women that may be dressed in clothing that you deem as “inappropriate” as property. Remember back to the Puerto Rican Day Parade in 2000? They thought that women wearing bikini tops and shorts were asking for the brutal sexual assaults.

    And third, if she wants to be hollered at, that is her right as well. Just like it is your right to be running down 14th street without your shirt on and having women and men oogle at you. We would argue, however, that most women don’t enjoy the unsolicited attention. We don’t realize that wearing a short skirt or a thin dress will get us attention. Just like we don’t think a suit or a jeans will make men grab our legs, shout inappropriate sexual innuendos, or think we are asking for it.

    For those who have been victims of gender based public sexual harassment in the DC Metro area, please submit your stories to us at Holla Back DC!

  • I love the way curvy has become the new euphemism for fat.

  • Some women are entirely too sensitive. Catcalls are just words. Ignore them and keep walking. Honestly, I wish everyone yelled at everyone about their bodies, men at women, women at men, men at men, women at women. This country is wayyyyyy too uptight.

  • Anon 12:17 – Catcalls themselves are just words, but they are often words laced with the possibility of physical violence. As many have said in earlier conversations, anyone who ignores the initially “complimentary” catcalls generally ends being called a bitch, a whore and so on, in ugly, threatening tones. Most of the time, the ugliness ends at words, though why should I be subjected to threatening language while I’m just walking home? Once, and only once, in ten years living in DC was I physically assaulted. But for months afterward, I’d find myself trembling the moment I got home and inside my front door. It’s ridiculous that I can’t walk home in broad daylight, an average looking woman in jeans and a tshirt, without the possibility of physical violence simply because I’m female.

  • One thing for sure is that if you wear ridiculous clothing normal people will mutter and laugh behind your back. There are short shorts and then there’s “is my underwear too long for this?”

  • I must live in a bubble b/c I have not witnessed this rampant street harassment that seems to be occurring in DC. However I would like to echo other commenters who have said that this is not about what women wear. And ugh, the shorts/undies up in that picture are a CRIME, somebody call the fashion police! If I saw them in person I would be tempted to make a citizen’s arrest.

  • It seems there are two extremes to looking at this issue: “they’re asking for it” vs. “any UNWANTED attention is harassment”


    I THINK a lot of you underestimate the effect of their appearance in arousing men, since women are more oriented to tactile arousal (as opposed to visual).

    Harassment is NEVER justified, no matter what a person is wearing, but a lame pass at you by a male that you do not consider attractive is NOT “harassment”, just like a one-night stand that u later regret does not constitute rape…

    If the guy making the comment looked like the celebrity of your choice and was sitting in a Phantom counting wads of cash, I’m sure you would be flattered, not indignant.


    If you would knock someone out for making that comment to a female family member, then you should probably keep that comment to yourself

  • And despite the collective voice of society telling women they should be offended by harrassment and men should be flattered by it, its still unsettling when it happens to me…

    Do you feel physically threatened and fearful for your life when a woman makes sexually inappropriate comments to you? Probably not. The dynamic is different when a strange man makes inappropriate comments to a woman. We never know if a random male catcaller is going to turn violent in 0 to 60. We have to walk around being on guard all the time, while you men have that male privilege where you don’t need to be on guard.

  • I had a young boy sit next to me on the metro once (despite there being tons of open seats), and he proceeded to tell me I was beautiful and then he asked me for some money (which I didn’t have any) so I say “I don’t have any”. Then he continued to talk about how he was going to follow me home and do sexually explicit things to me, which I responded “no you are not” [Keep in mind the metro is inbetween stops all this time] After this, he said he had a gun and was going to shoot me when I got off the train. So the next stop (which was Col. Hgts) I quickly got off the train before the doors closed.

    But that incident made me feel physically threatened. So you just never know! I have been assaulted, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

  • looks like I am the only honest Cro magnon guy on the site. The first thing i thought was yikes, where is the eyebleach. And like most guys I keep the filthy comments in my head where they belong. But i have yet to pretend to be enlightened. Almost all straight guys between 15 and 50 think this way, we just lie to you ladies is all, so we dont seem like the creeps we actually are.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    With reference to the issue of wearing short shorts, i say, if you got the legs then FLAUNT IT!!!!

    And i’m an equal opportunity advocate for short shorts for both genders too. In fact a man with great tennis legs, i’ll even practice what i preach….

    my motto for Summer 2009 is “Short shorts and BIG SMILES!!!!”

  • rg, don’t rationalize this behavior by saying “every straight man thinks that way.” no, they don’t. every straight man finds many women sexually attractive, and feels sexual desire for particular women (sometimes a very broad range of women). but they don’t think that about EVERY woman. more importantly, as has been pointed out, these inappropriate articulations are not about expressing sexual attraction; they are about fucking with someone’s psyche–intimidating, scaring or humiliating women.

  • @Goldie, I’m sad for you. 🙁

  • Conservative tastes are appropriate, not necessarily to debate with liberals, not necessarily burqas, more like the Amish or the Mennonites are more tasteful.

  • Mennonite fashion is “tasteful?” please tell me that was a joke.

  • yeh he’s sort of right – you’ll never hear someone whistling at a chick in a burqa

  • Wow, chalk one up for white men don’t realize how good they’ve got it, I guess. I can think of one time that my girlfirend mentioned a comment she got on the street, and she actually thought it was funny. Perhaps she just doesn’t tell me about all the other times. If I have witnessed a cat call in DC, it was so long ago that I’ve completely forgotten it. Sure, I’m aware of the stereotype about construction workers, but I’m actually in the construction business and can’t even remember witnessing any cat calls from the non-white guys with whom I work.

    That said, we guys, nearly 100% of the time, will turn to each other and smile or make a non-vulgar comment when a particularly attractive or sexily-dressed woman walks by. When there’s no one else around with whom it would be appropriate to acknowledge such things, we guys just fixate and admire the tight skirt, fitted shirt, 3″ heels, or plunging neckline as it passes*. I assume that such admiration is the intent when such things are made part of the outfit.

    * tongue-in-cheek objectification

    But no, no one “deserves” cat calls because of their clothing. POP tried several times to clarify that this is not his stance. I believe the point of his NYC analogy is that you can help your cause by not making yourself a target. A fat wallet sticking out of a back pocket or a collection of gold bracelets would attract attention of those who are prone to mugging people. Excessive cleavage on any part of the body would attract the attention of those who are prone to obnoxiously commenting on it. Mugging victims don’t deserve to be robbed and poorly dressed women don’t deserve to be harassed, but if you want to minimize your chances of becoming a victim, don’t put your valuables on display.

    Now, as for the argument that it doesn’t matter what you wear? Yes it does. I’ll assert that every guy falls along a gradient of tolerance for sexiness before it induces a cat call. For me, she’d probably have to be shaking something in my direction while smiling at me. For others, it’s a tight skirt. And for still others, it’s two X chromosomes. If you encounter the same set of guys in sweats, then again in booty shorts, you’re going to exceed more guys’ thresholds on the 2nd pass. The fact that you could come across someone with no threshold in any given outfit does not mean that you will always come across that guy when you step out the door. Not looking sexy will reduce the reactions you get from guys, but it will not eliminate them. Likewise, moving your wallet to your front pocket will not prevent you from getting mugged, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective in many situations.

    Lastly, not all societies on earth condone male cat calling. Most of middle- to upper-class America, with the possible exception of investment bankers, would shun one of their own for shouting vulgar things to women on the street. We would prefer to discretely lust after said women. If there’s any power play going on, it’s in the form of manipulating the media and advertisers to teach young women that their primary goal in life is to be sexy. It’s possible that a woman’s Darwinian animal instinct plays a role in making sexiness a high priority, but male leaders of society are fully complicit in taking it over the top.

    Interesting discussion everyone. At least I now know why nobody makes eye contact on the street anymore. Guys, at least, will say “hey” to other guys, if only to avoid looking away in an awkward “we weren’t supposed to make eye contact” way, but I often feel like the women I pass on the street look way too tense and nervous. It would be great if they, too, could say “hey” or even return my “good morning” once in a while. It kind of sucks to get 10-20 little rejections every day.

  • cut all the crap about her legs and her shorts “DOES ANYONE HAVE HER CONTACT INFORMATION” I will ask my wife if she will let me go out with her legs?:)

  • @Goldie, I’m sad for you. 🙁

    If you meant me, don’t feel sad for me. Feel sad for the men who feel the need to sexually harass any and every woman they encounter. I pity them for being so low on the totem pole (via their crass behavior) that the only way to bring themselves up is by putting us down.

  • All this obsession about legs…sick!

  • OK , she has a good looking brain.. I am willing to go out with her brain

  • Another burden on women to change their behavior in order to better contain the bad behavior of men. Really? That’s precisely why women in Islam live veiled — so men won’t be tempted. Men made that rule, for the protection of women. Dramatic? It’s the same principle.

    Gays in the nabe get harassed, as well. Should they wear less provocative flat-front khakis?

    This is a no-win argument. Sure, some of the guys here will always say “aw shucks, ma’am, we’re just being red-blooded men.”

    Until you walk the streets and *never* feel safe, you will continue to have no idea what we’re talking about.

    And just a tip to the ladies — a coping strategy. Whenever I approach a situation where the catcalls and the BS appear inevitable, I just start talking and muttering to myself. I don’t know why, but it shuts them down — and alleviates that “awkward” moment when you walk by them all tensed up.

  • @Golden Silence- Nope, meant Goldie and her/his ridiculous, off-topic comment.

  • It would be prudent if choice of attire/ words was modest , not radical change, as a person is responsible for the choices he/she makes without prejudice.
    Figuratively, a provocative style would certainly arouse very inappropriate thoughts, in other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.
    A burqa, a habit worn in a convent or the 19th Century fashions still seen with the Plain People (Amish) may be seen as extreme, a possibility remains that they serve as a reminder to to get too wild or indulge in excess as I realize there are honest people who are conscientious.

  • Ignorant White Guy – Thanks for your comments, especially the last paragraph. I’m a woman, and I agree that “It kind of sucks to get 10-20 little rejections every day.” Saying hello in passing to people (or just a smile) is much less awkward than trying to avert your eyes in order to not make eye contact with every person you walk by. Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • When the Petworth neighborhood was relatively new, in the Twenties, the cultural norms were of what was known as the the flapper which is conservative by todays cultural norms, men were quite as conservative as well, a release from rigid styles of the Victorian era for many, then as now, if one looks at the cultural norms, at the end during the Depression years styles were more conservative with white gloves, as compared to what happened elsewhere in the world ( the now famous burqa) at that time, as that would be another chapter in our history.

  • PoP: I get the sincerity of your question. I’ve been subject to all kinds of street harassment regardless of how I may be dressed. One time I was actually in my car, driving out of the Home Depot on RIA and someone yelled something pretty gross at me (I gave him the finger).

    I guess the bottom line here is that street harassment has little-to-nothing to do with how a woman is dressed. Ultimately, it’s about the need these men have to wield a certain power over women, and I think the vulnerability that some of these men feel in the form of their desire for women. And some of it is just passed down generation to generation, along with the bigger notion that it is a woman’s place to accept this type of behavior from men.

    There is no winning here for women. One time I had a guy follow me down Columbia Road– in broad daylight– for at least 1/2 a block. I asked him repeatedly to stop following me, but he would not. I ended-up taking out my cell as if to call police and he left me alone. Another time– back when Target was a hole in the ground and Tivoli Plaza was a skeleton– some men in a van harassed me as I exited the CH metro and followed me four blocks to my place (that was pretty scary). In yet another instance, I was crossing Park Rd and a guy in a car looked at me and just started wagging his tongue at me.

    You’re not asking a question that shouldn’t be asked, but IMHO the problem with questions like this is that they distract from the root source of the issue: certain male behavior in CH. It’s true that the responsibility for “risk-reduction” for sexual crime falls upon women, but it is also true that if another woman never, ever wore anything shorter than knee-length in CH, it wouldn’t make a difference in street harassment.

    Thx for the post.

  • @Golden Silence- Nope, meant Goldie and her/his ridiculous, off-topic comment.

    Sorry, I totally missed his/her comment. Yeah, Goldie’s comment was crass and uncalled for.

  • I have to echo each and every comment from the women on here that it does NOT matter what you’re wearing, some men will make completely inappropriate comments. Dressing “modestly” does not lessen this crap. I have experienced this first hand and have also been the victim of a groping from a stranger and have not just heard the hey babies and “do you want to sit on my face”, but also more violent threats involving sodomy……. This is about a culture where it is ok for some men to think and treat women and their bodies as public property and up for the commenting regardless of the impact this will have on the woman and her emotional and physical safety.

  • Common sense and being streetwise will lessen the chances of being accosted in despite an abundance of doubt seen nowadays.

  • Have you tried Georgia Avenue. Go to Crown Bakery of GA Avenue, they are the best breads, roti and cakes POP go by and take a few pictures.

  • anonymous. this has very little to do with common sense and being streetwise. the groping happened at 5:30pm on a tuesday 2 blocks from my work at 14th and k on my way home.

    the threats of sodomy/rape occurred during the one-block walk from the metro to my way home.

    in both instances i was wearing a suit. please explain to me how common sense and being streetwise would have somehow lessened the chances of this happening?

    how is walking my dog and getting verbally harrassed have anything to do with being streetsmart. are you suggesting that i sign up for a limo service that picks me up from my cube and walks me to my front-door?

  • I agree with you in reference to that being accosted is not acceptable, as common sense for me is to have a trusted friend or relative around especially walking after dark for clarification as I also agree with the original post PoP about his NYC background as the streets are not that safe as some degree of streetsmarts tie in with the commonplace robberies and threats in urban areas.
    God Bless.

  • Oops I forgot to add half of these people committing such acts could possibly have problems and addictions to drogs, alcoholism, and have mental problems as the workplace and the clergy have over the years developed strategies to confront in the workplace gender harrassment as you described.

  • Can you imagine what the front of that picture would look like in those shorts.

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