It is NOT a compliment

I will finally be out of this neighborhood I have lived in for one and a half years (too long!), to a place where street harassment is minimal to nonexistent (so far). I am counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to when I live in an environment where I can walk from my place to the Metro and back without being leered at, catcalled at and talked at (not “to,” at) by virtually every single man I walk by.

These last few weeks here have been grueling. Not a day has gone by where guys haven’t slowed down their cars to match my walking pace, or yell obscenities at me because I didn’t want to stop to give them the time of day, or give unsolicited offers for rides or to “roll with” me and other foolish nonsense. Each day I have to walk to and from Rhode Island Avenue Metro I have to steel myself to the ridiculousness.
There are too many incidents these past few days to talk about, but yesterday’s grocery store trip was a pain. I had to redeem my change at the Giant’s Coinstar machine, and as I walked to the store, two guys driving a Budget truck yelled “SEX-AYYYYYYYYYY!” at me. They then stopped and watched me walk. I pulled out my phone in case they wanted to do more than watch me, and luckily they continued driving. Then leaving the store, some guy was hanging out near the entrance/exit offering to carry senior citizens’ bags, but turned his tact on me into an offer to “walk and talk” with me. I told him I didn’t know him and did not want to get to know him, and to leave me the hell alone! All it did was go in one ear and out the other.

I am tired of every single man I walk by being so hellbent on saying “Hi” to me. It’s never a simple hello because the subtext is clear. They’d never demand a guy to respond to any of their “hi’s.” They don’t even say “hi” to guys who walk by! And I cannot stand men who need to refer to me as “Shorty,” “Boo,” “Slim,” “Baby Girl,” “Sugar,” “Nubian Sista,” “Ms. Lady,” “Lovely,” and every other name in the book except “Miss” or “Ma’am.” I am sick of it!

I am tired of my family and friends telling me these guys are trying to “compliment” me. It is NOT a compliment coming from someone who doesn’t respect me or value me as a human being. It is NOT a compliment coming from someone who sees me only as an object to leer at and catcall at.

I am moving out of NE DC and into the suburbs in a few days, and it will be a different world for me. I know I won’t avoid harassment 100% of the time, but any step towards minimizing it is good enough for me. I can’t wait.

Location: 10th NE, Rhode Island NE, Brentwood Plaza Giant

Submitted by Anonymous

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7 Responses

  1. Brando
    | Reply

    Not to condone the actually lewd remarks, but what’s wrong with someone saying “hi” to you? Would you rather we turn into a society where everyone lives in their own figurative island, ignoring one another as we pass on streets and in elevators? People–men and women alike–say “hi” to me often and I think it’s rather pleasant.

    Not everyone out there is trying to pick you up.

    • This story's contributor
      | Reply

      Not to condone the actually lewd remarks, but what’s wrong with someone saying “hi” to you?

      A lot when:

      1. These men are only saying it to women who walk by, and never men
      2. There’s a sexual undertone to it, with leering and ogling
      3. A response to their hello escalates into propositioning, as if simply acknowledging them on the street equates an offer for something sexual.

      There’s a huge difference between simple pleasantries and masked street harassment, and most of the guys saying “hi” on the street have a different motive in doing such.

  2. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Thank you for writing this. It always feels terrible to be objectified like that, and it’s even worse when people are dismissive of your feelings about it. People really need to listen to and understand stories like these.

  3. older but not wiser
    | Reply

    Oh, man. This is so depressing to read. Why do guys think they have the right to harass women.

    I thought I was way too old for this to happen to me (I am pushing 50) but oddly, two guys leaned out a truck woohooing at me just last week.

    I was really tempted to tell them they are hitting on someone who will soon qualify for AARP but refrained.

  4. Awesome Post
    | Reply

    I live in the burbs, work in DC, and I pick and choose my lunch venues based on the number of harassers I have to pass. I work not to far from the courthouse, and there are lots of men that just sit in the parks or hang out all day on the sidewalks. Nice to see that I’m not the only one that goes through this, but I’m angry that harassment has become the norm for so many men. Blame their daddies, or lack thereof.

  5. This story's contributor
    | Reply

    Thank you, all! I’ve moved this weekend and feel so much better. I actually like leaving the house now! It’s strange (in a good way) to be able to walk from my house to the train station and back without guys honking their horns at me or catcalling at me. It feels good! I hope it stays that way.

  6. […] 11, 2009 · Leave a Comment I submitted “It is NOT a compliment” and another story. It’s been a week since my move and it feels good to be able to walk […]

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