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Street harassment in Washington D.C. is both extremely common and readily ignored. Women who speak out about street harassment have been accused of arrogance and ungratefulness. Believe me when I tell you that women who catch street harassment don’t have to be hot shit. Most of the time, the only requirement is that they be women.
The real discomfort with reporting street harassment is that it requires us to call out the harassers. And some people are still more comfortable ignoring victims than they are admitting that their significant others, relatives, and neighbors routinely verbally harass people based on their gender. But hey, I’m not one of those people. Welcome to Profiles of Street Harassers! Up next: The Guy Who Honks.
THE GUY WHO HONKS(noun).
Weapon of choice:Automobile.
Defining characteristics: Guy Who Honks moves at an advanced a speed, making anticipation, avoidance, and examination difficult. Even balls on a truck are not a reliable indicator that a harasser is inside.
Tactics: The Guy Who Honks is a most vexatious class of street harasser. This Guy subsists on the abuse of a device generally reserved for emergencies and expressions of extreme rage. Unlike reasonable drivers, Guy Who Honks liberally palms the horn in order to make his presence known to nearby females. The traditionally negative associations of the sound ensure that the honked-at experiences a brief sensation of panic before realizing that the honk signals not a road emergency, but rather a passing douchebag.
Targets: Women Who Walk, Women Who Bike, and Women Who Wait for the Bus. Guy Who Honks thrives on an an elevated sense of importance derived from sitting in a fucking car. Women Who Bike are especially vulnerable to Guys Who Honk, as honks meant to flatter and offend can provide a dangerous obstacle on the road.
Appropriate Response: Guy Who Honks provides little recourse for his targets. Sneers, expressions of disgust, and even pointed refusals to respond have little effect on Guy Who Honks, who is already breezing down the block in search of his next victim. While erratically waved middle fingers may be spied through the rear window, they tend to leave the target with a lingering feeling of embarrassment, and unrealized dreams of duct taping a bullhorn to her bicycle handlebars.
Fantasy Punishment: A forced biking across D.C. in rush hour. In a skirt.
Photo by beeep.