I was walking home from the bus stop around 8:30 pm on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. The bus stop is only about a block from my house. I decided to stop to get dinner to go from a local Mexican restaurant. As I was exiting the restaurant, I walked about 25 feet down the street.

There was a man with dreadlocks, dressed entirely in navy blue (navy blue t-shirt, navy blue shorts) walking toward me. He saw me, and immediately changed his demeanor. In order to go around him safely, I would have had to walk into the street, and cars were zooming by. He was held up the side walk for about 15 seconds and wouldn’t let me pass before I decided to just walk around him, squeezing by. As I started to walk around, he aggressively leaned forward and blew air very hard into my face with his mouth. I yelled, “WHAT THE FUCK,” and hurried off, looking back at him. His breath smelled very pungent and alcoholic. The whole encounter left me very shaken up and disgusted.

Two women with children were walking up the road approaching him. I watched him either do the same thing or something similar to them, as the children that they were with screamed/screeched.

I called the PG County police and reported the incident. Afterward, I called back three separate times. They didn’t even send a squad car to the location until two hours later. By then, he was gone.

I am routinely and consistently harassed, both sexually and harassed by other means, on my way to and from the bus stop near my apartment complex. Men driving by in cars yell at me, cat call, stare (in the most blatant, disgusting manner), and call me names. Once, I was walking alone and a car stopped right in front of me. It had tinted windows, and would not get out of the driveway, which was blocking the sidewalk. I started to reach into my purse to grab my phone, and the driver must have seen this, because he/she immediately drove off.

Because of incidents like these, I seriously fear for my safety. I dress conservatively (suits, usually) due to my job. I walk briskly, arms swinging, head held high, thinking that this will deter people from thinking that I’m easily taken advantage of. Nothing works.

Submitted by JW on 6/30/2010

Location: Riggs Rd and University Blvd

Time of Harassment: Night (7:30P-12A)

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5 Responses

  1. Quest

    Talk about predatory behavior! Sorry you experienced this.

  2. Golden Silence

    That is so nasty! I am so sorry this happened to you.

  3. Be Responsible

    Sometimes I read these entries and wonder if the women are just out of touch with reality, but this one in particular really strikes a nerve. If you admit that you fear for your safety, you need to take some responsibility for your own protection. Move to a safer neighborhood! It is completely irrational to expect that you can live anywhere and get 100% civilized and respectful treatment. That’s simply not how the world works and you’re not going to change it by expressing outrage.

    • Original poster

      I am the person who originally posted this experience. I submitted it, forgot about it, and now, months later, I decided to see what people thought about the situation.
      The point is that I’ve lived in all types of neighborhoods, including ones that are deemed “safe.” I’ve lived in Dupont, I’ve lived in PG county, I’ve lived in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and some of the grungiest. This doesn’t change anything. Maybe it’ll change the way that I react to harassment, or the way that I feel about it afterward, but the “safeness” of the neighborhood simply doesn’t stop street harassment. Wealthy, white men in suits make comments about women daily near my office building on 17th street. Maybe they’re doing it more covertly, but I gaurantee that the women that they’re talking about notice. Are racist and sexist comments better than blowing in someone’s face? Are they worse?

      By claiming that this is a problem of poverty, or of race, or of education, you’re ignoring that it’s a problem of hegemonic patriachy, maleness, and power.

      People respond to harassment differently. By judging the individuals who express outrage, you are inherently approving of silence.

  4. Be Reasonable

    Be Responsible,
    While I understand the root of your sentiments, no one should have to move in order to be safe.
    Everyone, regardless of where they live, should be able to live without the fear of sexual harassment. This includes women and individuals who don’t have the freedom, means or even desire to “move to a safer neighborhood.”
    Not to mention, there are few neighborhoods were women are guaranteed freedom from harassment. That is the point of this blog, to demonstrate that this isn’t an issue of “bad neighborhoods” but a pervasive problem tied into societal attitudes and male privilege on a large scale.