Out of control!

posted in: Dupont Circle | 15

Street harassment is OUT OF CONTROL. Apparently i cant walk down the street in spandex pants to the gym. Two guys in a white delivery van were hanging out their window yelling “damn, you looking sexy today” and honked at me and then some douche on a bike rode by and yelled “work it girl”.  I’m sweating and walking to the gym. How is that sexy? I guess just walking in the city is sexy.

Location: Dupont Circle

Submitted by Anonymous

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15 Responses

  1. Anon
    | Reply

    I have only recently begun visiting this website. However, I’m really surprised by the broad swath of activity that qualifies as “street harrasment.” In this example, it appears the poster was walking through a major urban area and received comments about her dress. Her personal space was not violated and the comments could not objectively be classified as threatening. At most, these comments were subjectively unwelcome.

    How can men be expected to discern whether such a comment will be appreciated or not?

    At a more fundamental level, it seems inevitable that people in an urban area are going to walk out the door every day and find things subjectively unwelcome (i.e., there is trash on the street which people didn’t pick up, cars speed up on a yellow light, beggers aggressively solicit change).

  2. Miss B.
    | Reply

    I will try to contain the mild outrage I felt in my chest while reading this comment in reaction to the young woman walking down the street in spandex. Strange men yelling at her to tell her how sexy she looks, and another strange man telling her to “work it” are absolutely examples of harassment.

    With very few exceptions, comments like that are generally NOT apprecitated. So it’s really not necessary for men to try to discern anything at all– They simply need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

    Nobody is saying that it’s inherently menacing for men to feel or think sexually toward women they see on the street. It is natural, and it is unavoidable. It is entirely unnecessary, however, to express those thoughts. Once they are expressed, they become harassment.

    There is a HUGE difference between trash on the street and a STRANGE MAN expressing to a LONE WOMAN that, essentially, she is stimulating him sexually. Think about what that communicates to us on a base level. With rape practically being an epidemic around the world, and sexual abuse toward women rampant, to walk down the street and have strange men, men that you do not know, men from whom you have not approved intimate advances, communicate to you that they’d like to screw you, is extremely psychologically unsettling.

  3. Anon
    | Reply

    I am a regular reader of this site and find it to be a great resource for two reasons: (1) it provides the location where harassments occur which would allow a consistent reader to refine his/her (mostly “her”) understanding of problem areas in the city; and (2) it provides a great forum to discuss what I’d like to term “borderline” harassment activity.

    I submit that this action qualifies as “borderline” harassment activity that realistically cannot (and perhaps should not) be stopped. I will go through some of my reasons, and in the process also seek to address some of Miss B’s points:

    (1) Like it or not, for social and biological reasons, men are expected to initiate the mating process. Successfully completing this task requires the male to employ a number of techniques including, but not limited to, starting suggestive (or benign with the hopes of getting to suggestive) conversations, purchasing alcoholic beverages, showing off wealth (to indicate the ability to provide security). Success rates are low, and men are always looking for some comparative advantage [doing something the other guy is not]. In crafting a set of rules that people on the street should live by (through defining street harassment), we should be careful not to deprive males of another quiver in an otherwise woefully empty holster. Here, Miss B states, “[w]ith very few exceptions, comments like that are generally NOT apprecitated.” What about women who do appreciate it? Why can’t men cast a broad net in the hopes of finding someone who DOES appreciate it? Is it possible that the target audience for such comments is not the people who read this blog?

    (2) Stepping out your door in the morning involves risks, and it involves balancing your needs with the needs of others. The purpose of these discussions (as I see it) is try and come up with some objectively reprehensible behaviors that must be avoided, and come up with a code that will respect the needs of everyone in a given situation. For example, going up to a girl and asking for her number on the street is fine. Her saying no is fine. Man has the right to initiate a dialogue, woman has the right express disinterest.

    I don’t doubt that poster felt the comments unwelcome, what about the right of someone to express – from afar- his appreciation for beauty? Or perhaps more realistically, what about the right of someone to express –from afar for the purpose of appearing macho or bonding with a co-worker – his appreciation for beauty? Personally, I think girls in spandex are hot!

    (3) The slippery slop argument. Miss B’s comments seem very similar to what we hear in the drug war. Marijuana, or alcohol to teens, is a gateway to heroin. Say it enough times, and suddenly a teen smoking marijuana is that teen doing heroin. In the beginning to the post, the comments are described as “feel[ing] or think[ing] sexually” which are “unavoidable” (why we would to avoid them is another matter). In the middle of the post the comments are described as being akin to “sexual stimulation.” By the end of the post, there are references to “endemics” of “rape” and “sexual abuse.” It is important that we take a statement for what it likely is – an appreciation of something beautiful – or at most what it could be – horsing around – not what it is (subjectively) a cousin of – sexual violence or abuse.

    I really hope I’m not stepping on a land mine here….

  4. Mazzie
    | Reply

    How can men be expected to discern whether such a comment will be appreciated or not?

    You know what this is?

    Privilege. Entitlement.

    Operate from the assumption that your comments about my body/dress/appearance as a total stranger are completely unwarranted and unwelcomed.

    How about men realize that commenting on the appearance of a strange woman as she walks by is a direct expression of their entitlement and privilege as men?

    (1) Like it or not, for social and biological reasons, men are expected to initiate the mating process.

    This belies an essential ignorance about biology and its influence on gender roles, as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of sexual harassment. “Hey baby” on the street is not the initiation of a mating ritual. It is direct expression of privilege and power. If it is meant to entice or woo, it is sadly, ridiculously, and ignorantly misplaced. “work it girl” is not initiating dialogue, it’s sexual harassment. If the line is not clear to you, I suggest that in situations where your expressed observations about a stranger’s appearance or dress might be construed as harassment, you keep them to yourself.

    It’s not appreciation of beauty. A woman walking down the street is not an object for men to appreciate or objectify. She’s a woman walking down the street who deserves respect that can be granted simply by your silence and leaving her alone to walk down the street.

    As for the slippery slop[sic], the expression of privilege and power inherent in you feeling that objectifying a stranger on the street by making does, indeed, come from the same well that supports systematic abuse and oppression of women.

  5. jdhammond
    | Reply

    Anon, do you really think that someone is going to go out with, much less feel validated, by some random dude on a bus or a street corner calling that person a “fine piece of ass” or whatever?

    If this is a “mating process”, it’s highly maladaptive. Please stop making the baby Darwin cry.

  6. Golden Silence
    | Reply

    Anon, how can you in one post say you’re new to the board, but then in your next post call yourself a frequent reader? I’m assuming you’re the same person since the highlighted broken link linked to your name is the same.

    I’ll say, in the simplest of terms, that harassment is out of control in DC. Few women in this city can walk down a street without some lewd commentary, leering, or an inappropriate physical gesture. I can speak from experience with dealing with this nonsense. The woman who contributed this story is justified in feeling how she feels, and I think it’s unfair of you to dissect what she said and try to justify reasons for harassment. This world would be better for us women if harassers kept their hands, eyes and comments to themselves.

  7. Another Anon
    | Reply

    “This world would be better for us women if harassers kept their hands, eyes and comments to themselves.”

    so are men to just look straight down as they walk down the street? Dont you think its perfectly natural to look at a woman if her beauty catches your eye? How can one stop natural instincts?

    bogus.

    • jdhammond
      | Reply

      Again, neither of you have responded to whether or not it would be acceptable to you if, given your attitudes about random comments from total strangers as “adoration”, I made sexual comments towards you as a gay man, and a total stranger, on the street.

  8. Mazzie
    | Reply

    Another_Anon:

    I trust you to know the difference between looking and leering. There is nothing instinctual about the latter.

    What’s “bogus” is that so many men clearly feel entitled to ogle, comment, and grope., and will go so far as to use biology and nature to justify it.

    I want an answer to jdhammond’s question:

    How would men feel if they were leered at by other men, who made comments about their body/dress?

  9. Miss B.
    | Reply

    Mazzie–

    I could not articulate my sentiments any more perfectly than your 2 posts here. I am an anthropologist and I understand biology, courtship ritual, and everything that the Anon poster is attempting to erroneously use to justify aggression toward women. It is absolutely bogus to attempt to use that line of reasoning.

    I cannot leave my house without a man making some sort of graphic sexual statement, gesture or utterance in my direction. When men do this, it is NOT a matter of expressing their admiration. It is a way to subtlely and indirectly aggress upon women. I do not believe that men do these things in a sincere and logical hope of gaining a mate, getting laid or making a connection, especially since women are almost always TURNED OFF by this behavior. Men don’t get dates out of this behavior. They get disgust and fear. And THAT is why it is clearly NOT a courtship ritual. It is an intimidation practice, it is not okay, and it is a total manipulation of logic and science to suggest otherwise.

    I was walking down the street last night, and two separate men, one after the other, rode by me on their bikes and grabbed my ass. Hard. But hey, I guess I should be flattered– They were just trying to express their admiration of my beauty.

    • Mazzie
      | Reply

      Miss B,

      Thank you! I get so angry reading these that I am just delighted my responses come out coherently.

      Thanks for sharing and responding.

  10. Miss B.
    | Reply

    And seriously:

    “…..we should be careful not to deprive males of another quiver in an otherwise woefully empty holster.”

    –You’ve GOT to be kidding me with that statement.

    • Mazzie
      | Reply

      Another really clear example of entitlement – some men seem to really, seriously think that “access to women” is a biological need or social imperative.

      It’s crap.

    • jdhammond
      | Reply

      Oh, wow. Nice Guy Syndrome much, Anon?

  11. Maureen
    | Reply

    Anon:

    It becomes apparent why you deem street comments imperative: Your approaches to women have not been successful elsewhere.

    And let me suggest this is not due to a lack of outlets, but because your fundamental attitude toward women is clearly and frighteningly warped.

    At any rate, city streets were not built for mating rituals. The women on them are simply trying to get from point A to point B, engage in their worldly pursuits, and generally conduct the business of their lives.

    We are not here for your enjoyment, aesthetic or otherwise.

    Let me repeat: We are not here for your enjoyment.

    Your reasoning is another example of why evolutionary psychology should never have found its way into the hands of amateurs.

    If your argument is to stand, I beg you to offer one example of a street comment that flourished into a viable romance.

    I’m waiting.

    And so is the woman in spandex.

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