Do I need to grow thicker skin?

I was on my way home from Thanksgiving in New York with my family. My train got into Union Station a little late, so I decided to take a cab so that I could get home quickly without having to drag my luggage through the Metro. After waiting in the taxi line for 10 minutes or so, I get in a cab. He seemed a little irritated that I kept my suitcase with me in the back seat (instead of putting it in the trunk so that he could get an additional fee), but it didn’t seem like a big deal.

After we get a block or two away from the station, we pass a young college-student-type guy on the street, dragging a big duffel bag and trying to hail a cab. The driver of my cab wants to pick this guy up too, and I say no. It’s against the rules for a cab driver to pick up additional passengers like that! So the cab driver immediately starts cursing at me and kicks me out of the cab.

At this point, I’m angry, so I flip him off and tell him to fuck off. At which point he starts saying, “You want to fuck me? Yeah, girl, you should come right over here and fuck me.” Repeatedly. Clearly, he’s more interested in antagonizing me than in picking up another fare, since the college kid hailed another cab so that I could get away. Unfortunately, I was too rattled to get the cab driver’s information or remember the name of the cab company.

I called my mom afterward, and she told me that I shouldn’t have antagonized him, and that I need to grow a thicker skin. Not exactly helpful.

Submitted by KBF

Location: Massachusetts Ave & North Capitol

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

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15 Responses

  1. Danielle (@VeggieTart)
    | Reply

    This is why I hate, hate, HATE DC cabs and avoid taking them whenever possible.

    I hope you didn’t pay the fare he tried to charge you.

    • Pixie
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      I hate them too. There was one ride where the driver seemed so emotionally unstable that I spent the entire trip with my hand on the door handle, contemplating a jump-and-roll maneuver.

  2. Lorraine
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    Moms are like that, mine was, too. Next time get the info and report it, please, for our sake.

  3. Carlton
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    @KBF – Normally, I agree that any kind of harrasment is unneccesary. But in this case, your mom is right. He should not have said what he said, but you started it with the f–k off comment. Then you got mad when the cab driver responded with a comment in kind. It really sounds like a case of “can dish it out, but can’t take it”.

    • Anonymous
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      Carlton:

      Let me explain something to you: If this cab driver had responded to her “fuck off” and middle finger with a “no, you fuck off!” and a middle finger back, that would be him dishing it back out.

      BUT: A man aggressively yelling “You want to fuck me? Yeah, girl, you should come right over here and fuck me” to a woman, alone on the street at night no less? Not exactly tit for tat. His comment was in an entirely different category of aggression. He brought sex into the equation. Where did THAT come from? She was giving him the finger and telling him off. HE WAS AGRESSING UPON HER BY SUGGESTING SHE HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH HIM??!? Yeah, totally the same thing.

      Here is what so many men fail to realize: Using sex as a form of verbal aggression is a part of Rape Culture. No, his words didn’t rape her. But his words were part of the larger male mentality that uses sexual violence, even if it’s just sex talk/verbal harassment, as a form of agressing upon a woman, intimidating her, etc.

      If he had responded in a fashion that matched her aggression (even though he was in the wrong to begin with), I’d probably say that she needs to get a thicker skin if she’s going to choose to engage with people like that. But to have a man fight back with talk of you fucking him??!? That is something different entirely, and it’s emblematic of a deeper, far more troubling attitude toward women.

    • Anonymous
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      She was verbally punishing him by telling him to fuck off. He was verbally punishing her by telling her to fuck HIM. –That type of verbage suggests that sex, unwanted sex at that, is an acceptable form of punishing a woman for her “bad behavior.”

      It’s similar to men yelling things like “I’m gonna rape you” when a woman mouths off to them.

      Get it?

  4. Yasmin
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    @Carlton: So, women, in your view, need to stay silent in the face of wrongdoing and harrassment?
    The cabbie upped his aggressive behaviour, is she responsible for that too?
    Her mother was non-supportive, and as a mother of two adult daughters, I feel that’s so wrong. We need to speak out. We need to be stong and outspoken.
    For KBF, I’m sorry the cabbie behaved liike the douche he is. I’m happy you kept yourself safe and spoke up for yourself. Being rattled, I can empathize with your inability to remember the details. I loathe DC and the cabbies there!

    • Anonymous
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      @yasmin – after re-reading your story, I see your point. The cabbie cursed at her first. So she responded in kind. I don’t know, maybe they are both at fault.

  5. cathy
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    you have a right to use harsh language when being treated harshly, and you have a right to be shaken when threatened (he was threatening you, make no mistake, he wanted to scare you). you mom is a lovely person, i’m sure, but she’s wrong on this one.

  6. Anonymous
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    @KBF:

    This was NOT a case of you having a thin skin. When a man uses sexual violence as a form of expressing his anger towards and agressing upon a woman, even if it’s just verbal sexual violence, it is shocking and jarring and very, very troublesome. I would have been extremely upset by that interaction in a way that I would not have had he simply told me to go fuck off as well, and I suspect the same is true for you. It’s not that he “dished it back” that upset you (because he did NOT in fact dish back what you dished out), it’s that he specifically dished out the threat of sexual aggression.

    It always troubles me to know that men think that responding to a woman they are angry with verbal sexual aggression is an acceptable way of fighting back. It is threatening in a very unique way, not to mention cowardly.

    As far as your mom’s reaction, I can tell you that my mom would have reacted the same way. I can also tell you that it upsets me every time she does. I do think it’s a generational issue: Women from our mom’s generation (I’m 33, but I suspect our moms are from a similar generation at least) were not conditioned to talk back to men, no matter how progressive they might be. I think moms also just want so desperately for us to be safe that they are dismayed at the idea of us doing anything that could generate an aggressive response from someone.

    Having said all of that, it’s a form of victum blaming to take the “you shouldn’t have antagonized him” approach. First of all, you weren’t antagonizing him: You were responding to his cursing at you first and throwing you out of his cab. You were responding to his aggression by dishing out the same type of aggression he threw your way: cursing for cursing. If it had ended there, I might be more inclinded to say that yes, despite how infuriating it is, it’s probably best to not fight back with a jerkoff like that. But his rebuttal of “Come fuck me!”? Totally not your fault, totally not an appropriate defense against your non-sexual cursing.

    I have gotten to the point where I don’t tell my mom when I experience things like this, because it’s just too frustrating for her to tell me that I was responsible for my own sexual harassment. It really in on par with saying that if you wear a sexy dress then you were sexually “antagonizing” a man and thereby deserve the catcalls that come your way.

    This man’s sexual response was emblematic of Rape Culture. And no matter how you responded to his throwing you out of the car, you did not deserve to have sex used as the defense against you. No woman ever “deserves” to have sex used as a defense against her, no matter how many obscenities or middle fingers she’s thrown a man’s way. And that’s the bottom line.

    I think your situation would have upset almost any woman who experienced it. So take heart. This is not a matter of you needing a thicker skin.

  7. akestra
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    Work on your reading comprehension Carlton, she explicitly states that the cabbie cursed her and kicked her out of the cab, eliciting a (well-deserved) “fuck off!” from the OP. And if we’re gonna discuss who “started it”, how about we begin with the cabbie, who became verbally abusive towards the OP for asserting her rights (she has a right to hold on to her bag and a right not to share a cab.)

  8. anony
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    I’m with Carlton on this one. No, Yasmin- women do not need to stay silent in the face of wrongdoing and harrassment, and in this case the cabbie was definitely in the wrong to try to pick up another fare on top of his first fare. It reminds me of the good old days before the meter system took effect! However, in this case, the writer seems to be the one who sexualized the conversation by using the expletive f–k off with accompanying hand gesture.

    This started as an issue of a cabbie trying to take advantage of her, not necessarily because she was female, but because the cabbie was dishonest. The best thing she could have done in this situation was to get the cabbie’s information and report him. Or if she felt her life was being threatened (either by the cabbie or by the fact that she was being kicked out of the car in an unfamiliar area), she could call 911. I don’t think her use of f–k you was the best choice, because it opened the door for the cabbie to respond in kind. The cabbie did escalate the language that was being used.

    It’s unfortunate that this situation deteriorated into what was a dangerous and sexually charged conversation, but in this situation it seems like two wrongs making a wrong. I’m glad the writer is ok and that it didn’t go any further. She certainly did the right thing by getting out of the situation when the cabbie escalated the language.

    • Michael
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      I don’t think anyone honestly thinks of “fuck off” as a “sexualized” comment, despite the common definition of the word “fuck.” There is a WORLD of difference between the meanings and contexts of the phrases “fuck off” and “come fuck me.”

      And actually no, her use of the phrase “fuck off” did not “open the door” for the cab driver’s gross comments, because he had already begun cursing at her before she even said that. Please stop trying to blame her for his harassment.

  9. Jen
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    We need to stop being afraid to call the police on these cab drivers. I was sexually harassed leaving a bar one night and started crying. When I got into my cab he started driving, but decided to kick me out of the cab claiming I was “too drunk”. I tried to explain to him what happened and he started to scream at me. I refused to get out and I called the police. They came, hailed me another cab, and fined my driver for refusing to take me to where I wanted to go.

  10. Pixie
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    A side note on this story…I think it’s entirely inappropriate for cab drivers to force you to accept another passenger. I was in shock the first time that happened to me…here I am in a cab, in the wee hours, going to my HOME address, and he stops and lets two male strangers into the back seat with me. Without asking my permission. Is this something that happens frequently?

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