“I Had to Change My Route In Order to Get Home Safely.”

Location: H & Massachusetts NW to H & North Capitol St.
Time: Day Time (9:30am-3:30pm)

I’m wearing a long, flowing skirt today, so when I was on the bike I had the hem gathered up and tucked into my waistband so that it wouldn’t get tangled up in the bike. This also happened to leave my legs mostly exposed. As I was crossing Massachusetts Ave, this guy on a bike coming the other way yelled… I don’t know, something at me. Which I ignored, because, ew. But out of the corner of my eye I saw him turn around and start following me. I continued to ignore him, but put on my Safety Face. Women know the Safety Face, but for you dudes who may not: it’s the narrow-eyed partial scowl that says, “No, I really am NOT in the mood to talk to you and you should leave me alone.” But by this point the guy is behind me, continuing to call after me, making rather explicit remarks about my legs, and as he catches up, insisting that I talk to him, actually taking offense when I react with hostility.

Meanwhile, there’s construction in the area and the sidewalks are narrow, so I couldn’t just speed up because I was busy dodging urban obstacles. So I was on the sidewalk and this guy is on the street, keeping pace just ahead of me. Since speeding up wasn’t going to work, I start slowing down, knowing that he’s in the street and can’t really slow down, so maybe he’ll lose interest. We continued on H like this for a while, all the way to North Capitol Street. He turned left, which irritated because I needed to go left. So I waited, and watched. He kept looking behind to see where I was, and slowing down, and looking. So at this point I assumed he was NOT losing interest and was intending to wait for me to catch up. Yes, EXACTLY LIKE an ambush, in fact.

This is, not at all coincidentally, the point at which I decided I was not overreacting to upgrade the guy from “nuisance, potential threat” to “actual threat.” So instead of going left, toward home, I turned right for a block, turned left, and went down another block before turning back north toward home. That’s right, I had to take evasive maneuvers to shake a tail in order to get home in a manner that I considered safe.

Submitted on 8/8/12 by Tiffany.

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