Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Street Harassment

I like to read Golden Silence's blog, Don't Be Silent --- Speak Out Against Street Harassment. Most females living in D.C. (and in many other cities) have experienced this but most, including me, tend to just deal with it as a fact of life. But it really shouldn't be that way and I appreciate that her blog at least keeps the issue in discussion.

Since moving to the neighborhood from the Adams Morgan/Mt. Pleasant area, I must say I have experienced significantly less harassment. Eckington is a more residential neighborhood than Adams Morgan or Mt. Pleasant and the streets I do go through on a daily basis just do not have the same amount of business and pedestrian traffic conducive to street harassment.

So far, the only incident I can remember was when I was on my bike at the corner of 1st street and florida avenue, nw, waiting for the light to turn green. A bike rider pulled beside me, then asked for my number. I said no but he persisted on starting a conversation. I said I wasn't interested, the light turned green and I biked away. Then, he followed me on his bike yelling for me to wait up. I yelled back to leave me alone and biked as fast as I could, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me home. But that's about it as far as incidents worth mentioning...and probably because being chased by bike was kinda scary.

Anyways, earlier today I left the following comment on one of her posts with my thoughts on the issue:

I read this post some time ago but I’m only getting around to commenting.

I like your blog and I peruse it because often times, I read something and say oh, that happened to me too. I have since moved, but on a daily basis, I walked Columbia Rd and occasionally Mt. Pleasant Rd and not a day went by that I didn’t encounter some form of street harassment. I was actually flashed in broad daylight when I walked down the alley besides the Safeway. Contrary to how you’re feeling, I think those who are harassed a lot, are harassed because they send out a strong and confident demeanor which is attractive to most people. And I think the comments and contributions you get from readers should show you that you shouldn’t feel singled out.

Street harassment has never bothered me to the point that it made me feel bad about myself or depressed. At the end of the day, there is just no room for me to give the street harassment I encounter on a daily basis much thought. It’s always just been an annoyance. I’ve managed to do my daily walks being deaf to anything I perceive as harassment. I look past harassing people as if they don’t exist, I ignore car horns, whistles, leers, etc. and like you, I’ll only respond to polite greetings or compliments. I think I’ve gotten so good at it, it is the people I’m with that will notice and say they feel offended for me.

People who harass want attention and I refuse to give them that. The only days that street harassment affects my mood or get a reaction for me is when I’m having a bad or tough day in general, when it’s a particularly disturbing or disgusting incident, i.e., being flashed, or if it’s racially derogatory. I admire that you post your experiences up and that you respond to your harassers, it’s gutsy and it takes a lot of strength to put your daily experiences in writing. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I think to let street harassment make you feel the way are feeling or bother you to the point of ruining your day is an extension of that harassment.

2 comments:

Kelly Mahoney said...

I've never had anything happen to me in Petworth, but near the bars, guys are jerks.

dcavocado said...

The bars in Petworth or around bars in general? Adams Morgan is pretty bad. Once on 18th street, a bunch of guys in a car drove out of an alley to block me off after I just had ignored their hollering minutes ago. Ah well...hope it doesn't bother your day to day.