No Coincidence

posted in: U Street | 10

Cross posted from Two-Timing the Cosmos:

[Scene: Waiting for light at 14th and U]

Old man sidles up to me: “Hey baby. It’s no coincidence the sun just came out. I mean it, you’re so beautiful. And that’s no line, sometimes a girl just needs to hear it…”

Me: “Yeah. Don’t you just hate when you forget your headphones and have to listen to every asshole corner you at the light and pretend like he’s not just another dude harassing you in the street?”

[light changes on cue / end scene]

View post on Two-timing the Cosmos.

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10 Responses

  1. Kel

    Sometimes something really is meant as a compliment. Sometimes it is nice to hear a compliment from a stranger and and it takes a lot of courage to compliment someone you don’t know. An unexpected compliment – especially when you’re having a bad day – can cheer you up. Snippy replies to well-intentioned compliments make people less likely to be friendly to one another. Just say thank you and walk away. Unless there are circumstances that aren’t being mentioned, this was not true case of street harassment. This was just an old guy giving a cheesy compliment.

    • Mazzie

      Kel, I think the “hey baby” is pretty much a dead giveaway. A lot of harassers who make unwarranted and an unwanted comments use the same rationalization (“it was meant as a compliment!”), usually followed by angry epithets. Strangers on the street don’t have a right to comment on my body, my beauty, what I am wearing, whether or not I am smiling. And if I choose to respond in a way other than what’s expected – to demure, or say thank you, or shocked silence – then maybe it will send a needed message. I totally support how the person who submitted this responded, and I hope it will give the “old guy” pause next time he wants to issue an unsolicited comment to a strange woman on the street.

  2. Heather

    That’s my post. It’s also not what I actually responded, just what I wish I’d said. I really do wear headphones because if I don’t, I have to listen to dudes during my entire 3 mile long walk to work and back hollering, honking, whatever. Maybe sometimes it’s “just a compliment,” but he went on and on and on, clearly trying to get some reaction out of me, insisting that I should have some kind of gratitude that he deigned to come over and tell me how beautiful I am. Was it the worst hollering I’ve ever experience, not even. But having dudes all over this damn city holler at you all day every day, as people on this website very well know, really wears you down.

    My stance and attitude clearly said “enough, leave me alone,” but who cares what I want right? I should just be grateful.

  3. Don

    As a man who has on occasion complimented random people regarding a shirt or hair or tattoo, I can say with confidence that if you have to respond defensively that it was “just a compliment” then it wasn’t.

    I have never felt the burning need to compliment someone for something so bad that I had to yell it across a dozen feet. I have never felt like complimenting someone required them to engage me in conversation in return or show me gratitude.

    If you read someone talking about being put-out by being “complimented” on the street and you feel defensive then you (a) are part of the problem and (b) know, on some level, that you’re not actually giving someone a sincere compliment with no demand for something in return.

    • Heather

      Well said, Don.

    • FFF

      Exactly. I think most relatively social people have on occasion complimented a stranger on something or other… “I love those shoes!” “That’s a great jacket.” “Sorry to bother you, but I really like your tattoo.”

      …but the difference between a sociable compliment and a harasser lies in the very definition of “harass”:

      – to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.

      A sociable compliment is made without any kind of expectation of response or reciprocation. You make it and don’t expect anything in return, and go on about your business. That’s the kind of compliment you or I might make to a stranger on the street.

      A harasser makes a “compliment” with the expectation that the audience must respond with gratitude in the form of conversation or attention, as though the person being complimented now owes them a debt they must repay.

  4. Kel

    As I said, “unless there are circumstances that aren’t being mentioned”. From what Heather said there was. He kept trying to get a response. That’s going too far. Heather, I did not say you should “feel grateful” or to make you feel further harassed. If you feel unsafe, then you should probably listen to your instincts. My point was only that, as written, there was no sign of harassment in the post.

    Mazzie, I tend to take “hey baby” with a grain of salt because in the town I come from, it’s a common way that both women of all age groups and older men address younger women. It’s actually less annoying than being called “child” by an older person.

    • Golden Silence

      I tend to take “hey baby” with a grain of salt because in the town I come from, it’s a common way that both women of all age groups and older men address younger women. It’s actually less annoying than being called “child” by an older person.

      Even less annoying ways to refer to people on the street are “sir” for men and “miss” or “ma’am” for women. Calling people “hey, baby” is unnecessary.

  5. cathy

    dan, you are 100% awesome.

  6. Dr.FabulousShoes

    I once got a compliment from a man on the street.

    He said “Excuse me miss, sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to tell you, you have a beautiful walk. I hope you have a lovely day.” and he was gone. It still brightens my day, 5 years later. That is a compliment – he asked nothing in return and addressed me as one would a stranger. This, not so much.

    I’m sorry that a) your headphones were forgotten and b) you need them so much in the first place.