Do you know D.C.?
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Last week, I asked you whether there are any cities where street harassment dare not rear its ugly head. As many commenters made clear, street harassment isn’t about where you are—-it’s about who you are:
Honks, shouts, barks, cat calls, offers for a ride, “smile baby”—-in a nice, progressive town in Arkansas. This isn’t regional. If there’s a place on Earth where grody dudes leave women alone, I’ve never heard of it. —-a. brown
Having lived in Philly (center city and south Philly) for the previous six years, I can say that street harassment does happen there– but in my case, it was generally from crazy/homeless people. I got a lot of guys yelling at me to ask if I had a boyfriend/was looking for a date or some “company”– one man, when I told him no, I was not looking for a boyfriend, offered to “bite that angry p*ssy all night long.”
I now live in Savannah, GA, and while people are a bit more…pleasant in the terms they use, I have gotten a lot of attention (I don’t wear short skirts/revealing clothing at all…if anything I’m pretty dykey). In a particularly unpleasant incident earlier this week, I was sitting in my window having a cigarette and a middle aged black man shouted up to me that he loved me and had something to tell me, and when would I next be down on the porch so he could talk to me?
I haven’t had anyone try to touch me in either city, but I’ve been trailed by cars, shouted at, catcalled, and had all manners of “love” professed to me everywhere I’ve been. I used to say that sure, I was flattered, but honestly I’m not. I’d like to be left alone. My girlfriend would appreciate it too.
A curvy WOC:
I think it also depends on WHO is not experiencing the harassment. I know that being a curvy woman of colour has made the likelihood of being street harassed WAY higher than my skinnier, whiter friends. For some reason because I have body fat, any clothing I put on can be over-sexualized. I’ve been harassed when a girl wearing MUCH less clothing walked right before me.
Also, I’m not sure how I feel about implying that being in a “safe, middle class” neighborhood makes one less likely to be subjected to street harassment. In New York I live in Harlem and I have only been catcalled *once* by a construction worker. The others didn’t even glance twice. However, when I’m around my work in Midtown…oh the street harassment is BAD.
So in short, I think it is about who you are and where you are in combination. I definitely did get touched a LOT when I lived in DC, however. New York is a welcome change. —-Wagatwe
I’ve lived in suburban and rural towns. Like some of the others here, I saw more street harassment when I was 11-12 years old (and more conservatively dressed) than now. No one would argue I was “more attractive” in braces and a bob. I suppose that various 20-40-something creeps think pre-teens are more receptive and clueless i.e. vulnerable. Moving hasn’t changed anything; looking like a legal adult has. —-h
In my research on street harassment, I’ve found it happens pretty much everywhere, though I personally think it’s lower in places w/higher rates of gender equity. But my research shows that if you drive or are often accompanied by others in public you’re not going to experience it as much as someone who walks or takes public transportation and often is alone in public. Young women, women of color, and members of the LGBQT community tend to experience it more. So if someone feels there isn’t much harassment in their area compared to another, it may be that you’re not in public as often or in the same way that you used to be. —-hollykearl
Near a harasser:
8 years ago, i moved from Philly (south of South) to DC.
Harassment there? Yes. In DC, i’ve perceived far more and what harassment I’ve observed often takes to the more severe–same floor, higher ceiling.
Harassments don’t all have the same motive. Some people are just being assholes. Some people are actually trying to be pickup artists (of a low class variety). Some think they are supposed to boisterously express sudden extreme attractions. Maybe there are other kinds.
To be harassed, one must be near persons willing to harass. —-DB
Photo via The U.S. National Archives