On The Reverse “10-5 Rule” and Walking While Female

Yesterday, DC resident Liz Gorman was sexually assaulted in broad daylight in what is considered a “safe” neighborhood in DC.  Here are her own words on her experience.

sexual harassment in dc
CASS was the first outlet to break the news and alert DC residents of Gorman’s assault (after Gorman contacted us), shown here reported on by DC’sWJLA/ABC 7.

Those of us who have worked in the service industry are very familiar of the 10-5 rule. This favorite of overzealous managers, inserted into every training session and employee handbook states that at 10 feet you make eye contact with a guest or customer, and at 5 feet you acknowledge them. Then a brief conversation ensues, the employee exchanges whatever good or service is being sold for money, and the encounter is over. Have a nice day.

While walking down a city street alone, a sort of reverse 10-5 rule exists. No matter the time of day or what you’re wearing. It goes like this: I am walking alone and see a man walking towards me at 10 feet. Maybe instead of looking straight ahead into the distance, I move my eyes to the ground. I slump my shoulders slightly, so maybe my breasts aren’t as prominent. I begin to analyze the width of the sidewalk; am I too close to him? I can’t move too far away, as I might risk offending him. And if I’m too close, well, that may very well be an invitation for something. At 5 feet, I take a small breath and one of two things happens: nothing at all, which I consider a small victory or…something. Something like a kissing sound or a variety of sexually explicit comments. At which point I left with two options: pretend that I don’t hear a damn thing, or risk an additional conversation, which in the past has been anything from a choice silent hand gesture and specific curse words to an extended conversation on mutual respect and common courtesy. It’s usually the curse words, which I wouldn’t recommend for those who can’t take what they dish. And the encounter is over. Have a nice day.

While walking down a city street alone, a sort of reverse 10-5 rule exists. No matter the time of day or what you’re wearing.

And most of us have to deal with this on a daily basis. We change our routes. Maybe I’ll take a left down this street so I don’t have to walk past That Store or That Bus Stop or That House. Maybe I’ll just take a cab when walking wouldn’t take much longer. Maybe I should have worn something else. Maybe I’ll just stay in tonight. There are a lot of “maybes”.

But let’s forget about all of the choices, those maybes, that we know have nothing to do with harassment but we still think about anyway. I was in Dupont Circle at 3:30 pm yesterday and was sexually assaulted while walking. In my hometown, in a nice neighborhood, in broad daylight, in public. I’m a city girl; I walk fast and have rules. A man pulled up behind me on his bicycle and reached up my skirt. He put his finger into my vagina through my underwear. He laughed and biked away. That was it. No 10-5, no catcall. No exchange. I didn’t see his face. At least when I was robbed at gunpoint I knew who to look for on the street.

The cops came within minutes and were exceedingly supportive. I went on with my day: I had lunch with my mom and then drinks with some of my closest friends well into the evening. I received many messages of support and encouragement, and I’m really grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. But one thing that has bothered me is referring to what I did as “brave.” I was simply walking while female. I guess I didn’t realize what a battle it still is out there and how much work we still have to do.

Liz Gorman is a photographer from Washington, DC. Her story was republished and reported on in numerous local and national media outlets, including The Washington PostJezebel, the Washington Post Local (front page Metro section), WJLAWTTG FOXDCistDCblogs and the Washington City Paper.

MORE FROM “My Streets, Too”:

“My Streets, Too” is CASS’s ongoing series on personal writings on street harassment by members of the DC community. Email Renee to submit writings using your full name, initials, or anonymously (just let us know). Please be sure to use the subject line “My Streets, Too.”

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83 Responses

  1. suicide_blond

    im sorry…
    and i wish i had some other wise thing to say… but i dont

  2. Julie

    HORRIBLE. I’m sorry that happened to you. Thank you for sharing it, though, we obviously do have a long way to go when this crap happens on a busy city street in broad daylight.

  3. Brunch Bird

    This is infuriating and I’m sorry you went through it. It’s also a reminder of how idiotic the assertion is that there’s no war on women in this country. This kind of garbage happens when men feel it’s allowed to happen.

  4. Drake

    He’s lucky he did this in a city where gun ownership is outlawed. Glad everyone feels “safer” for that. I woulda aimed to wound, to be fair. I feel a little like an animal being male, right about now – and even so, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I’d make a rude remark at a passing lady even if she was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen – haven’t once, never will… and I have a hard time comprehending why any men would. Sorry we’re such scum, honestly.

    • DCcitygirl

      Not sure how long you’ve lived in DC, but gun ownership is no longer outlawed. Even so, I’m glad that we don’t have to resort to guns to solve all of our problems…

  5. Anne

    Sadly I’m surprised and heartened to read that the police were helpful and supportive. A similar thing happened to me in Tempe, AZ and the cop I tried to report it to said the guy was ‘just having some fun’ and refused to do anything. He was annoyed with ME for wasting his time.

  6. JF

    I’ll bet anyone who rode his bike thru Dupont Circle in mid-afternoon was not a stranger to many in the crowd that hangs out there.

  7. Malnurtured Snay

    So sorry this happened. I hope they get the guy.

  8. Jane

    Today while walking near McPherson Square metro station, i saw what i presume to be the leader of a group of young guys spit at a lady walking by. The spitter missed; I walked a different way. I was walking while female and didn’t want to attract any attention by saying something. Yes, I witness the war against females every single day, when I have to run home from the bus stop to my apartment, when I keep changing work schedules because I kept getting followed home, when I have to keep calling cops because I get harassed just walking home….

  9. Mark

    So sorry. That’s really sick. Sometimes I am so ashamed of my gender. This is one of those times.

  10. […] Gorman is a photographer from Washington, DC.  This post is originally published on Collective Action for Safe Spaces and is cross-posted with […]

  11. Drake

    @Jane, as a bigger guy I’ve gotta say, seeing something like that in person would put me over the edge. I actually don’t ever carry a weapon but I’d go toe to toe with a dude even with his gang of pussies behind him if he was unfortunate enough to do something that outlandish in front of me. I would be momentarily beyond care about getting injured, though honestly I kinda expect they’d run away. An arrest for breaking someone’s nose (and/or hospital visit) would be a small price to pay for teaching some asshole a painful lesson about respect to innocent passers-by. Sigh.

  12. Emily

    Liz, thank you so much for sharing this. Providing awareness for such a horrific problem as sexual assault is so essential, and I really can’t thank you enough for giving your story a public voice.

  13. Nicole

    How was someone able to get close enough to stick a finger up your vagina before you even noticed him? This doesn’t completely make sense to me.

    • kathy

      It’s good that it doesn’t make sense to you, that means that it has probably never happened to you. People usually attack from behind BECAUSE they can get really close without the victim noticing.

      • JTW

        Exactly, Kathy. Nicole, when someone is behind you, they have as much time as they want to plan how they’re going to do something, and there’s really nothing you can do. If this helps, try thinking of purse-snatching. It happens quickly because someone is studying you (whether in front of you or behind you) and you don’t realize it (if you did you’d do something to protect yourself), and the thief sees an opening and moves in quickly to do the deed and before you know what happened the thief is running away with your bag. (Even if you haven’t experienced this yourself, certainly you’ve seen it on TV and in the movies; it happens just like that in real life.) It’s no different from what happened here — someone behind her saw an opportunity well before he got close to her, planned it, and used the precise act of surprise to accomplish it. By definition someone on a bike can get close to you pretty damn quickly, and quite easily without you knowing it — after all, how many times have you been walking along, in your own thoughts, and the sudden sound of a bicycle bell 3 feet behind you makes you jump out of your skin? You jump because you had no idea the cyclist was behind you until the bell rang. Hope that helps you understand how this could happen.

        • James

          Yeah…I’m sorry, but I have to agree with Nicole here for a minute. I’m not at all condoning this kind of behavior from anyone, man or woman. Because it does happen on both sides. But that’s a whole other conversation. Anyway, she states that shes a fast walking city girl. A guy comes up behind her on a bicycle and is able to get his hand up her skirt while she’s “fast walking” down the street? I don’t understand the physics of this. Someone please explain to me how a person riding on a bike can come up behind someone walking fast, match pace with them evidently, and be able to reach down and under a skirt and be so accurate while she’s walking and hes riding a bike? This doesn’t make any kind of sense. He must have trained in the olympics to accomplish this maneuver. What kind of bike was this, how could he be directly behind her and reach over the handlebars and front tire and under her skirt. Because if he road up beside her and he did it from the side, which is the only humanly possible way I could see for this to happen and that would still be next to impossible while she’s walking fast and he’s riding a bike, she would have been able to see him from the side. Was he riding a unicycle? Did he have abnormally long gorilla arms? I don’t get it.

          • bean

            I’m sorry, but if you’ve never had a finger stuck up into you unexpectedly, you won’t know how you’ll react.
            You’re shocked, and by the time you recover, they’ve biked away.
            Hell they’ve biked away before you’ve even processed that some STRANGER just stuck an effin finger in your cooch! (come on, let’s be real, all he needed was the scent, right? How long did it take? She didn’t say he reached her cervix or anything)

            Her whole point is that you can plan for a lot, but no matter what, we still aren’t safe because -how they hell do you plan for /that/?!

            Stories like this make me wish I still smoked. Always had a lit cig that I could use as a weapon, if needed.

    • kate

      This is exactly the kind of victim blaming ignorance that allows for this kind of behavior to continue. I am not responsible for the independent actions of others. I have every right to wear what I want to wear and walk where I want to walk. When I find myself thinking, “I never should have worn this skirt out,” or “I should have cabbed,” I get angry, not at myself, but at the men who still think they are a higher species, that they can treat another human being like a domesticated animal used for pleasure and breeding. The responsibility does not lie with her to make sure that men don’t get “too close.” That is a completely and horrifically backwards way of thinking. The responsibility lies with that man to be a decent human being. It is NOT her fault.

      • Anne

        Besides that, since women just aren’t seen as being entitled to the same amount of personal space as men are, strange men get too close to them all the time. Over the course of a life time, women get used to dealing with it. They speed up their pace, slow down so the guy will pass them already, veer to one side of the sidewalk, scrunch themselves into a little corner on the subway seat… The problem is even men who aren’t inclined to commit assault don’t respect women’s space as much as they respect other men’s. They wouldn’t brush up against another man in the grocery check-out line, Heavens, that would be gay!

        • Anne

          Point being of all the personal space invasions any woman deals with on a given day, someone coming up behind you on a crowded sidewalk in the middle of the day wouldn’t necessarily be something you’d swing around to investigate every time. You’d be exhausted at that rate.

  14. Shawna

    I’m really sorry Liz–this is truly horrifying. I hope we can find some way to remedy whatever it is in our culture that makes some men think this is an Ok way to act like that.

    I would note that in self-defense classes I’ve taken, the instructors encourage us to act confident–walk with your head up, shoulders back, and make eye contact. This has the added benefit that by looking someone in the eye, you’re demonstrating that you could ID them if need be. I don’t say this to implicitly blame the victim in any way; I just think that each of us can fight the war on women in our own small way by showing that we’re not cowed, which you’re clearly not.

  15. Betsy

    So sorry this happened to you and you are handling it with great spirit to inform others like myself. So now walking white females can’t wear skirts because it’s another maybe – this is a wake up call for me.

    • N

      What the hell does being white have to do with it? Get off your imaginary high horse, lady.

      • Drake

        I think you might reserve your harsh criticism for someone who actually deserves it. Betsy’s point was quite valid, and nowhere did she imply that non-white females are not also targeted. Is the implication that white females are (perhaps) targeted more and/or in a different way, really deserving of such a venomous reply? Those who live in glass houses…

        • cmm

          Pretty sure that’s a typo and it’s meant to say “while,” as the article is titled “walking while female.”

        • N

          Actually, yes – my reply was completely warranted. It’s a stupid implication, and the topic at hand is the dangers women face, not Betsy’s ill-informed belief on her racial desirability. Period.

          • Jessica

            Actually, N, your reply was a trollish overreaction to an apparent typo, which displayed less sympathy for women who’ve been victimized, than glee at finding an excuse to throw a tantrum about race. Why don’t you get off your high horse, and try to have empathy for people that have been victimized, instead of trying to pick a fight?

          • bean

            lol, I totally agree with N here. hahahha, this is in no way a typo, and the author clearly expressed her race when no other mention of race was brought up.

            If it was a typo, there was a whole lot of other verb noun agreement problems in this sentence.

            let’s keep ALL our sisters and brothers safe.

  16. Erin

    I suspect this may be the same guy who harassed me last summer. Also on a bike; didn’t touch me but got an upskirt shot, also in Dupont Circle. So sorry this happened to you. I didn’t call the police at the time, but remember the guy, so if you want to get in touch I have filled in my email in the email field.

  17. Erin

    I wonder if this may be the same guy who harassed me last summer. Also on a bike; didn’t touch me but got an upskirt shot, also in Dupont Circle. So sorry this happened to you. I didn’t call the police at the time, but remember the guy, so if you want to get in touch I have filled in my email in the email field.

  18. […] Circle Attack: Photographer Liz Gorman's blog post about being sexually assaulted in Dupont Circle is inspiring more open talk about the issue, writes […]

  19. Lissette

    I’m incredibly sorry this unbelievably invasive and disgusting thing happened to you. I feel compelled to share with you that, three years ago, a guy on a bike rode up beside me, squeezed my left breast and rode away. This was also in DC, on 16th Street heading south towards Dupont. I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same guy, or if this is the new thing to do in that area. Either way, thank you for sharing your story.

    In solidarity.

  20. JL

    It confuses me as well when people call us brave. By definition, brave means ready to face and endure danger and/or pain. But for those of us who have been assaulted, we were never ready for that. We weren’t attacked/assaulted “bravely”. We were, like you said, just walking while female. I am so sorry this happened to you. Nothing I can say will make it better, but please know that you are not alone, you will recover, you did not deserve or ask for this, and you have tremendous support. All my best to you.

  21. Kelly

    And this happens in one of the most liberal places in the United States, where woman out number men by a pretty good margin? I’ve lived on and near Army posts where the ratio of men to woman is 2 to 1 and have never experienced anything like that. I’m sorry that happened to you. If you can’t carry a gun, carry a rock in your hand so you can at least nail the next sob that tries something like that.

  22. Lisa

    First, I am so very sorry this happened to you. I commend you on your decision to call for help; you were extremely strong to do so.

    Second, this is helpful to me — making me aware that I should turn and look when I am feeling threatened from behind.

    On Tuesday afternoon, I was walking in the Penn Quarter section of downtown, heading to a meeting. From behind me, I heard a man spewing offensive comments that I knew were directed at me. I chose to ignore him; I kept walking. Then he was directly beside me, harping at me. I made a quick decision to turn my volume to a level just above his. I answered the questions he asked (“How are you?” “Are you having a nice day?” etc.), but spoke just a little louder with each answer and stared at him, fearlessly. He finally backed off, somewhat startled. I wish I’d just given him a swift, hard back-hand.

    I decided to take a taxi back to my office after the meeting. Fresh air and sunshine were not worth that level of harrassment.

    • julie kreutzer

      Great strategy. I took a Model Mugging course that strongly recommended this tactic though they claim there are three phases to interviewing a victim. The first is to see if the victim is even aware of them and if she will make eye contact. A good victim is unobservant or frightened. A bad one clearly is watchful and ready to deal with problems. The second phase is verbal and involves comments like the ones you got. The good victim ignores them and is clearly frightened or distracted. The bad victim gets loud in response, saying things like “BACK OFF”. The third phase is a physical attack. A good victim hopes that if they don’t fight it will be less damaging or they can’t move. The bad victim uses whatever tactics and weapons she has and fights hard an decisively. I am aware that fighting can get a person killed but my personal view from living in a rough neighborhood through my twenties and defending battered women is that fighting is the only way I can operate. I found Model Mugging moves to be helpful. I have never been seriously injured in a fight and have rarely needed to fight. I had a concealed carry permit and carried a gun and mace but never needed them. I realize some of this may be dumb luck but it has worked for me.

      • AgentP

        I did a Model Mugging course years ago in NYC after a serial rapist had started to assault women in my neighborhood. BEST thing I ever did for myself. I will enroll my daughters in one as soon as they get older and start walking to places on their own.

        It wouldn’t help in a situation like Liz had to endure, but in many others that come to women head on.

      • bean

        I’ve never taken a model mugging course, but this is exactly what I do.

        I’ve never heard of some backwards 10-5 rule before…and frankly, I don’t agree with it.

        Keep your head high. Keep your eyes open and never back down. I’ve walked a lot at night, through some bad areas, and some times I’m lucky, and other times I’m smart, but I’m never ready to be a victim.

  23. Amy Click

    My brother stopped and helped you when he heard you. It’s true that walking while female might not be brave, but crying out, asking for help, informing the police, and making your story public all are incredibly brave. As a victim myself, I know that every one of these steps can be daunting and an opportunity for fresh wounds, so the fact you have taken on so much so quickly is a testament to your character. Thank you for sharing your story, and please know that many, many people have been touched by your story.

  24. […] her recent blog post, On the Reverse “10-5 Rule” and Walking While Female, photographer Liz Gorman wrote about a man who sexually assaulted her in broad daylight in DuPont […]

  25. JM

    A similar incident happened to me in the Dupont area around 6 years ago. I used to live at 15th and Rhode Island and was walking home from the Dupont metro on Massachusetts Ave. I was on the phone with my boyfriend when all of a sudden I felt a hand grab my butt. I turned and yelled, “what the f–?” and before I could even see the guy, he was cruising off on his bike. I couldn’t believe that it had happened, and as I was explaining to my boyfriend what had just occurred, wouldn’t you know it, but the a-hole drove back around and did it again! I didn’t think to call the police, though maybe I should have. At that point, I just wanted to get to my apartment as quickly as I could. I’m guessing this guy is a frotteurist (someone with a sexual paraphilia involving the desire to touch or rub up against unsuspecting strangers) and hopefully he’ll get caught soon and get both the punishment and treatment he needs.

  26. Leigh Van Duzer

    The same thing happened to me when I lived in DC 8 years ago. I was walking home from work on a bright sunny day through a public park in Georgetown when a man ran up behind me and groped my vagina through my pants. It happened very quickly and he ran away while I screamed at him. I reported to the police and they said there had been several similar incidences in NW. Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend at the time didn’t think it was a big deal or consider it sexual assault, and I didn’t realize until now that it was in fact just that.

  27. julie kreutzer

    I’m so sorry, Liz. You were really brave about this but it is a big deal and it’s rotten. If it helps, I’ve had some interesting self-defense experience so I have a few ideas (if you’re sick of ideas, please delete). Consider model mugging. I took it because I represent domestic violence victims and it was a deal I made with my husband (along with a conceal carry permit and carrying gun and mace). I found MM useful since it was designed for women — it offers an alternate theory to avoiding eye contact. They suggest making eye contact so that potential threats know that you see them, you are not afraid of them and you are ready to respond. This is not a hostile stare, it is a watchful look. MM thinks that that nasties are ‘interviewing’ victims. If they think someone is not watching them, is frightened or otherwise might be easy to take they will. If they think that person sees them and is ready to deal with them, they move on. (This fit with what worked in the rough neighborhood I grew up in.) Phase II of the interview is lewd comments; MM suggests you respond verbally and loudly. Again, that’s a bad victim because someone might notice and call the cops and you might fight. If attacked, of course MM has some fighting strategies geared to women. They believe if you are programmed with some physical responses it will kick in when you need it. So, many years later, I was walking down a street in Cairo at night when I felt a hand on my fannypack from behind. Before I could think, I whirled and caught the hand of a very surprised vendor who looked horrified (my husband and son were looking angry, too). He stammered he just wanted to sell me a shawl and showed several. Who knows, but he looked horrified. I told him that grabbing anyone from behind could cause him trouble and we left. At court in my DV cases, I doing avoid eye contact with bullies who batter my women clients; they often initiate it but I find that they drop eye contact fairly quickly. I admit my look is hostile. After I clock them in court they stop with the harassment/attacks on my client. I’ve never needed to use my mace or gun. I realize, that doesn’t help much with an attack from behind since that just involves reflexes and luck. Still, MM moves are good for that. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of your body responding very fast, very decisively when someone is grabbing you from any direction. Hmm, there was also the unexpected attacked by a ‘friend’ in my apartment and fighting him off. Even from the floor there are some great moves that play to women’s body strength. Again, no injury, just him on the other side of a locked door. Sorry, don’t mean to ramble so I’ll stop. I truly hope that nothing like this ever happens to you again. If it does, I hope you kick their ass. Take care!

  28. […] On Thursday, Liz, who immediately reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police Department, wrote about her experience on our blog. By Friday, the post had set off a viral reaction, both locally and nationally. So far, […]

  29. Ann Sampson

    Hi there. Thank you for reporting this. If it becomes a string of crimes eventually the perp may be caught and punished or helped or both. I am always surprised at the number of unreported crimes, which give us a false sense of safety. So sorry this happened to you!

  30. Katie

    I am so sorry.

  31. me, too

    Thank you for sharing your story, Liz. I’m so sorry. This kind of assault happened to me more than 40 years ago between classes in Jr. High School. I had (kinda, sorta) forgotten about it but your story brought all the physical memories back. It’s a huge violation. Being female is a state of constant vulnerability that most men just can’t comprehend. Good for you for naming this out loud in print so we can all be more aware. Wish I knew the solution.

  32. R33

    Same thing happened to me in Nola one winter. I was told later by a male friend that this is called “checking for oil “. It was horrible. And the guy moved away so quickly I couldn’t even process in time to hit him or scream.

    • AgentP

      I am so sorry that this happened to you. And saddened that your friend has an expression for this.

  33. effie

    The reverse 10-5 is so true. I’m hyper-aware of being around men all.the.time. Hardly an instance passes where I don’t think the same things. We shouldn’t have to be fearful of always being disrespected and worse, we shouldn’t be made to think it’s normal.

  34. C

    Taking cabs is dangerous too. I’d heard stories of women being sexually assaulated by cab drivers, but didn’t take the risk seriously until it happened to me. It was a couple months after I’d moved to the city and it was late at night. The cab driver stopped in a dark empty parking lot, where he grabbed my arm and stuck his hand up my skirt. I think he assumed I was drunk and would not be able to escape, but fortunately I wasn’t and I did get away without anything worse happening to me. I never took a cab after that, and I tell other women to avoid cabs also.

    • C

      P.S. – Can anyone recommend a good self-defense course?

      • Guy

        Don’t just take a “self-defense” course. Take a martial arts. Don’t just learn to defend yourself. Learn to fight. I spar with women all the time and the power of their kicks is tremendous. Harness the power. Don’t SCRUNCH like the OP. If you make yourself look weak, you will be an easy target, you will be weak.

        • Lauren Taylor

          Yes, until sexism and gender-based violence are gone, we need self-defense. Please check out our web site and contact me if you have questions about Defend Yourself’s approach to empowering women and others targeted for violence.

    • C

      Hmm, the second half of my comment was deleted (censored?) but I was also asking if anyone has had a bad experience with Uber. The company seems to hold their employees more accountable to bad behavior, but I’m still afraid to try. Being stuck in a vehicle with a strange man is just a terrible position to put ourselves in!

  35. Dana

    Liz, Thanks for sharing your story. You are right. Maybe “walking while female” is not brave (though it often feels very brave), but sharing your story so openly is. Most people (myself included) would try to hide it away and pretend it never happened. Yes, you are brave. Thank you for giving a voice to this problem. Thanks for bringing it out into the light.

  36. L

    A similar thing happened 3 years ago to me while walking in Columbia Heights in the early evening. A guy on a mountain bike rode up very close behind me on the sidewalk, so close I was uncomfortable and tried to move to the side to let him pass and he sort of cornered me against a retaining wall and pulled out his penis. I yelled at him and ran away, but he chased me and on a bike he could move faster than I could. It was pretty scary.

  37. Texas

    Move to Texas – we have a better chance at protecting ourselves here because we are allowed our constitutional right to bear arms.

  38. Lauren Taylor

    Liz, let me add my voice to the chorus saying how sorry I am that this happened and how thrilled I am that you spoke up and that people are paying attention!
    To all those above who have shared that they feel vulnerable, or enraged, to those who are scared of being intruded on and those who have been, I invite you to check out our site (www.defendyourself.org) and see if a self-defense class would be helpful for you. We work closely with CASS and have a similar philosophy and approach. If you’d like to talk, feel free to email me and I’ll get back to you. Believe, support, defend. –Lauren

  39. Laurnil

    I am truly sorry that this happened to you. His actions were wrong and I wish he could have come to justice. Anybody who says that this wasn’t a big deal is an asshole who has no clue what being violated feels like. They have no idea how the constant harassment by strangers and even friends that women get can affect a person. On a lighter note, I also wish you had had something like a stick with you so that you could have reached forward and stuck it into the spokes of that man’s bike.

  40. […] On The Reverse “10-5 Rule” and Walking While Female (US) – Collective Action for Safe Places […]

  41. Melissa

    Never go quietly. Never “shut up” WHEN people tell you. People will HATE you for talking about this– they will put EVERYTHING on YOU. That will make YOU out to be some sort of DEMON. Never shut up. Never go quietly. Let no one forget. Do not try to be “likable.” Be truthful. Be resolute. There are people out there who will stand with you. There are sooooo many more who will stand against you. Fight as though you will die if you do not win– because metaphorically (referring to spiritual, emotional, and cognitive processing death) and literally, this will be the case to millions and millions of women and girls (and yeah.. SOME boys and men..) all in the span of a generation. Honestly, we need to institutionalize feminism. We must teach boys (and tell men repeatedly, though they will not learn….) to osctrisize men that do such things. The power is not in LAW. The power we seek lay in POWER of our CULTURE. We positively need a cultural revolution. Who is with me? We must never stop fighting. Never. We must never stop building and institutionalizing prevention measures (teach girls how to identify those scum bugs and stay safe, teach boys to be gentlemen and to stand up to those scourges of the human race). Never. <3 Blessed be <3

  42. […] Who knew all the boundaries and defences we put up when we’re “… Walking While Female” aren’t e…. Scary stuff. [Collective Action for Safe […]

  43. Lance

    Inexcusable for the perp. But don’t let this sour your belief in males. I work in DC not too far from this incident and have witnessed too many rude and bitter women who stay locked up in their own shell. As a southerner, I regularly walk by someone (male and female) and at 10′ make eye contact (my eyes do not wander to your breasts) and at 5′, say good morning or just give a head node. I am not flirting, I am not violating you, I am being nice. Mostly I get nods back, but every once in a while, I get venom from someone who thinks I have done something wrong. Point here is be careful, but don’t become bitter to everyone on the street. We are not all bad.

  44. […] police when she couldn’t catch up. The next day, Gorman decided to take further action and wrote an essay for Collective Action for Safe Spaces about what she calls the “10-5 […]

  45. fuming

    where the @$#% are we, the middle east? ya gotta be escorted by a male family member in public now or what? anybody tries that on me i just hope i can react quick enough to beat the living snot out of him.
    i hear women in some african countries have taken to wearing tight bike shorts and panty girdles to make it harder for men to rape them. ya shouldn;t have to but it might be a strategy. one south african woman has invented an anti-rape device–a female condom with TEETH that latch painfully onto “unwelcome intruders”.has to be romoved by medical personnel with scissors and tweezers. pretty cool.hope it catches on.

  46. Penelope Kuntz

    How could somebody put his finger in your vagina while you are walking and he’s riding a bicycle? Was it a very small bicycle and he reached UP to your vagina? Or are you really tall? This story makes no sense. Maybe a fantasy to make some kind of point? Probably.

  47. […] whatsoever, until last week when I read an article by DC photographer, Liz Gorman, “On The Reverse “10-5 Rule” and Walking While Female,” detailing her own sexual assault in Dupont Circle at 3:30pm on a Thursday afternoon. On […]

  48. […] whatsoever, until last week when I read an article by DC photographer, Liz Gorman, “On The Reverse ’10-5 Rule’ and Walking While Female,” detailing her own sexual assault in Dupont Circle at 3:30pm on a Thursday afternoon. On Friday, […]

  49. Justine

    I would think if a man tried to do it, I would have time to kick him or knock him off his bicycle (if only as a knee-jerk reaction). But such kind of things never happen to me. Ok, happened once in a bus 20 years ago when I was a teenager but that’s it. I can’t think of any other situation

    Nor am I expecting a sexual assault when I pass a lonely man. But I guess it’s me who is weird…

  50. […] week ago (last Monday; a few days before I read about Ms. Gorman’s incident on Dupont) I was walking home on Irving Street. It must have been around 9:30pm. I heard a noise […]

  51. CM

    I had a very similar experience in Dupont about six years ago, though the incident was late at night. I went to report it to the police, and the officer at the V St NW police station refused to take my statement and told me “I should have been studying at home like a good girl.” I wish I were joking, but I am not. I went to MPD headquarters to report both the sexual assault and the officer that sent me away. I spoke to a head female detective. She apologized profusely and assured me she’d follow-up on both accounts. I never heard from her again. Thank you for being so vocal, and I’m very pleased to have read about the arrest made.

  52. […] Three: I just read [trigger warning! sexual assault] Liz Gorman’s account of her sexual assault on July 4, 2012 at Dupont Circle on the Collective Action for Safe Space website (www.collectiveactiondc.org) , […]

  53. […] Liz reported the crime to MPD. She gave a description, location, time. She called the police immediately. It was a moment of strength, determination, and “damn, we shouldn’t be dealing with this crap” that moved Liz. To be fair, it really got the conversation going again. We, DC Metro residents, shouldn’t tolerate street harassment, particularly that type of harassment which is an affront to our physical space. Your hand should not touch my ass. Nor should your hand, because your brain decided it, attempt to go up my skirt. […]

  54. […] then got back on to it and didn’t see him anymore and went home. I wonder now, after reading Liz Gorman’s story, if I had called the police would they have done something about […]

  55. Michelle


    I’m a 30 something professional female living in Dupont Circle. The ‘exact’ scenario happened to me 2 years ago in March, on Church Street at approximately 3:45pm. A Latino looking male on a bike stuck his hand up my dress from behind, through my panties, into my vagina, then laughed and rode away.

    This past Monday my friend from work advised me that he heard something similar to what I had shared with him 2 years ago, recently in the news.

    It had been approximately the 5th time I had been sexually assaulted while walking home or riding on the Metro in DC. I’ve reported almost every incident to DC Police. It happens much too frequently. The latest happened last year when the S. Dupont Station was open and I was coming home from work. I was riding the escalator and felt something brush against my leg from behind. I turned around and saw a man in dreadlocks taking a pic up my dress. I was stunned, took pics of him from behind, called the Police, followed him and called my boyfriend.

    Unfortunately, nothing has ever come from me reporting any of the incidents. I am so very sorry this happened to you but at the same time, I greatly appreciate you Blogging about your assault. The f*****’s been arrested and I have YOU to thank!!!

    Take care,

  56. nycgal

    The same thing just happened to me on a busy street in New York City. I screamed at the top of my lungs and no one seemed to notice. It was so bizarre. It all happened so fast from behind. I was wearing a casual dress, which seems like a dangerous thing now, and a blazer. He ran away when I turned around, I didn’t get a chance to see his face. The police were very supportive and said this happens all the time, especially on subways. Even if you don’t see the face, it’s important to report this crime to the police because they might be able to match the description with other recent incidents in the area. Such a disgusting shame that this is the reality for women these days.

  57. […] might not seem like a big deal until you understand that, for many, it’s a daily ritual that can still fail to keep them […]

  58. […] third recent story not mentioned by Smith is that of Liz Gorman. In July, Gorman was groped by a man on a bike while she was walking in Washington, DC. But she […]

  59. […] was walking in Washington, DC. But she didn’t stay quiet – soon after, Gorman submitted an essay detailing the experience to Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). Almost immediately, her […]

  60. […] justice," says photographer Liz Gorman, who brought attention to Cornejo-Pena's crimes after she blogged about her own assault in July. Gorman's case, as well as others, were not included in the four counts […]

  61. […] aspect of travel nuisance that isn’t mostly counted as partial of usually “walking while female,” as Hollaback! DC’s Collective Action for Safe Spaces in DC recently put it: Women do […]