I just moved to D.C. about a month ago and work as an intern with a law enforcement agency. I grew up in a small town and attend college in an equally small town, and trust me, I have run into my fair share of street harassment incidents in both of those places. However, this is the first time in my life I have experienced it to such a great extent.
Today, I went to the local Trader Joe’s to buy groceries for a picnic that my friends and I will have tomorrow. A man who worked at the grocery store followed me discreetly (but not discreetly enough) and asked me several times if I needed help. I dismissed it as “his job” but felt angry that he seemed to think that I needed his help picking out my own groceries. When I got to the check out line, my cashier was the same man who had been following me. He proceeded to stare at my chest for the first minute of scanning my items and then struck up a conversation. He asked me how old I was and if I would ever consider going out with him. All I wanted was for him to finish scanning my groceries and allow me to pay, but he held off on completing the scanning to bug me. I tried to ignore him and he told me that I was beautiful and should smile. As I finally checked out and quickly hurried away, he laughed to himself. Can I just go about my normal day-to-day activities witho ut getting unwanted attention/harassment? I should have reported him, or said something and do not know why I didn’t at the time.
I can honestly say that I experience at least one incident of street harassment and/or inappropriate and unwanted attention every, single day. As a result, I am afraid every, single day when I leave my apartment to go to work. I try and dress “uglier”, I try to avoid eye-contact with people, and I try not to stand near men, but nothing works. I hate having to feel like I should look over my shoulder every other minute and I hate having to feel scared. I am a strong, confident young woman, yet I feel there is nothing I can do to prevent the endless cat-calling and degradation that I experience on a daily basis.
Submitted by J on 6/5/2011
Location: Trader Joe’s 1101 25th Street NW
Time of Harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)
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