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I get harassed on an almost-daily basis. It’s crazy, unbelievable, utter crap to think that a good chunk of my time out in the world is spent dodging unwanted comments. But it’s true. To prove it, I’ve kept a log. What follows is just some of the harassment I’ve encountered within the last 6 or so months. It’s not at all comprehensive. And I’m only one woman—if all the women in this city wrote their own diaries of harassment, we’d run out of paper to print them.
Of course, I did have peaceful stretches of days where nobody bothered me, usually in winter when people are quicker to get off the streets and when we women are covering up our shameful bodies. Not that doing that really stops anyone—there are still quite a few instances of harassment in cold months. Read on and feel the love:
Nov. 7, 2006
While walking the block from home to my car, I was harassed not once, not twice, but three times. It’s dark, raining, and cold, and I’m wearing jeans, a sweater, a hat and under an umbrella. The first time is the worst. They are uncharacteristically gross; I think one guy says he has “a big one for (me).” The rest are your basic “Hey, sexy, hey, baby.”
Nov. 15, 2006
Walking to car, just a quick block. Wearing jeans, sneaks, shirt with some cleavage, sweater. Guy lunges at me. “Good morning, how are you [unintelligible comments about me and my looks], do you need a ride?” I stop and turn around, stare directly at him and after a beat, sarcastically say, “Yeah, let me get in your car with you right now. That’s a good idea.” He says something else, which I couldn’t understand, but he also looks confused and pretty much backs off…
Also, is about my dad’s age. Gross.
Thanksgiving week, 2006
Thursday: I guess there are no breaks for holidays—hissed at repeatedly by group of men. Wearing jeans, heels, coat zipped up. I go insane and hiss back. They stop. What the hell is up with the hissing?
Friday: On way to my car: kissy noises from man in car on street. Am on my phone; give him the finger as I walk by.
Later Friday night: Walking across H Street. Car full of men slows down as friend and I cross, saying, “How you doing,” etc., etc. When we ignore and keep walking, they say: “Why won’t you come over to our car? White bitches.”
Dec. 12, 2006
Walking through Adams Morgan with friend at night. Jeans, winter coat. Man on street makes loud kissy noise as I walk by and says “beautiful.” I turn around and make manic kissy noises back. He laughs! Yay! (Note: was with gay friend so did not appear to be his property and was therefore open to harassment?)
Dec. 23, 2006
At home in Pittsburgh. Walking down Carson Street (sort of the Pittsburgh equivalent of 18th, but less insane), almost grabbed by bunch of guys when walking past club. “Hey, ooh, baby, come here” and hands go out. Say “Nope!” loudly and avoid them, jumping around the street like an idiot.
Dec. 30, 2006
Late night, walking from car to apartment: From across street, from a guy getting out of his car, hear grunts, kissy noise, and the popular low-pitched “beauuuutiful.” I have on jeans, sneaks, puffy winter coat. Puffy winter coat.
Jan. 2, 2007
Walking from bus to apartment: Jackass standing at parking meters, calls out, “Hey sweetie,” as I walk by.
Jan. 5, 2007
Walking in rain on street, jeans, coat, hat, etc. Some guy sticks his face almost totally under my umbrella to say, “Hello, sweetie.” Gross. It’s 9 a.m.!
March 25, 2007—three in a day!
1) Told I was “ugly anyway” after ignoring man calling out: “Hello, young lady! Young lady!”
2) At JR’s for a friend’s birthday. Have to fight the insane crowd to find him. All gay men, so no problem with all the bumping and jostling. A guy sees me struggling and moves back to let me through. I flash a grateful smile and a thank you; he returns the favor by grabbing me around the hips with both hands and licking his lips. I smack his hands away from me hard and yell: “Get off me!” Note: He was definitely not gay and being cheeky, like the guy earlier who passed close by me and exclaimed, “Oh my God, I’m straight!” This guy is nasty and keeps leering at me after I yell at him.
3) Kissy face made while walking later in Dupont.
April 13, 2007
Walking on H Street, wearing jeans, holding purse, CDs, records, etc. Kind of struggling. Two men approach and part so I can get through. One stands directly next to me as I pass, looks me up and down hard, and says: “Mmm, mmm, mmm. Damn!”
Sometime in May:
Go to the gym after work and take the bus home. I look a total wreck: Sweaty hair, wearing yoga pants and jacket. A short, 30-something man walks toward me, moves closer, and blatantly looks me up and down. He sucks his breath through his teeth and utters “sexy.” Really? I kind of smell. I pretend I can’t hear him and turn the corner.
Sometime in May:
Standing in front of my building, waiting to be picked up by friend for tennis. Have on shorts, T-shirt, holding racquet bag. Dudes in a car drive by, slow down: “Hey baby, can I play with you too?” “Are you fucking kidding me? Get out of here,” I say. They start to respond, looking smirky, but I lose it and scream “Get the fuck outta here!” They speed off.
June 8, 2007
Friday night, wearing skirt and boots, having a smoke on H street. Guy walks by with his phone out, points it at me and says “I wanna take a picture of you.” I stare at him with my mouth hanging open, pissed. I don’t even know what to say. He keeps walking and laughing with his friends, “Ooh! She mad!”
June 9, 2007
8 a.m. in Mount Pleasant. Last night’s dress and heels—risky—but I need to pop home and think early hour + short distance = no danger. Wrong. A few guys who are in an apartment above street level have a great time yelling out, “Ooh! How are you? Good morning! So beautiful! Damn! Look at her! Hello?! Hey, sexy,” and whatever else; goes on for at least half that block. I give them the finger.
Ten minutes later, walking back, having changed into tank and jeans. The upstairs guys are gone, but a guy in a car I walk by while crossing the street hangs out of it at me and says: “Good morning! Damn!”
June 15, 2007
Standing outside the Black Cat with friends after last call. Car full of men yells various crap out the window. My friends yell back, telling them that screaming out of cars at women is rude; the guys park the car and come over, more people jump in to confront them, and a fight almost breaks out.
June 16, 2007
Walking home through Adams Morgan. Wearing T-shirt and jeans. Dude sticks his face directly into mine to say hello to me. I recoil and say, “Ugh.” Later, a man repeatedly calls out to me after I pass, “Hey! Miss lady! Where you going? Come back!” Later still, a car full of men slows down to follow me as I cross a corner. The driver hangs out the window to call, “Hey, sweetie, hey, baby!”