“I’ve experienced street harassment since I was about 12 years old.”

Location:  U Street Metro station
Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)

This past Friday while walking toward the U Street Metro station, I had a particularly jarring experience of street harassment.  As I was crossing at a light, a man walked toward me and accused me of almost causing him to get hit by a car because he was “distracted by my looks.”  He seemed very serious about this accusation.  Bewildered, I continued walking.  Noticing that I did not respond, he yelled out that his statement was a compliment and then began shouting profanities at me. Several other pedestrians noticed and looked at me in confusion.  They were probably as confused as I was.  Fortunately, I was at the Metro entrance and proceeded quickly down the escalator.  While this experience was disturbing, it was not unfamiliar.  Since the age of about 12, I have experienced street harassment in one form or another nearly every day.  The same can be said of most women I know.  Street harassment is part of the lived experience of women and LGBTQ individuals.  It can be damaging both mentally and physically.

Fortunately, there have been increasing organized efforts to combat street harassment over the years.  One such effort is the Washington, DC grassroots volunteer organization, Collection Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). As their Website states:  “Collective Action for Safe Spaces is a grassroots organization that aims to empower the DC Metro area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.”  In October of last year, I attended a CASS Meet & Greet [editor’s note: more info here] and learned more their staff and programs.  It was clear that this much-needed organization is helping to raise awareness about street harassment and advocating to prevent it for all groups affected and in its many forms.  Similarly, I was quite encouraged by the work of artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh as reported by Stop Street Harassment, another great nonprofit organization.  With their community-driven approaches to solutions, there are many ways to get involved with these organizations and work to end street harassment.

Originally posted 2/3/13 by Sharpe Ideas Consulting.

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault?
Submit your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Please consider reporting to Metro Transit Police: www.wmata.com/harassment; 202-962-2121.

4 Responses

  1. D
    | Reply

    …a man walked toward me and accused me of almost causing him to get hit by a car because he was “distracted by my looks.”

    Wow, that was so clever and original—NOT! These harassers think that they’re so witty when they’re beyond lame. I wish they’d learn to keep their thoughts to themselves!

    I’m glad that you’ve discovered the many anti-harassment resources out there, though. They’re truly inspiring and encouraging.

  2. Ads3hij
    | Reply

    It’s amazing how many animals we allow to roam the street. These men who will sweet talk any good looking girl they see, then turn into aggressive profanity spewing jerks when the girl doesn’t immediately spread her legs.

    These animals need to be dealt with. But, our government is no longer interested in protecting the public. The police are thugs, enforcers for the rich. Their primary operative is revenue collection and to squash threats to the structure of power or money. “Public safety” comes last. Which is hilarious, seeing how that statement is printed all over their manifesto.

    The world is one big f’in lie, that far too many citizens fail to grasp. Too busy with their own lives, their children, their jobs, their TV shows. Too busy to care that their lives could be many times greater if they weren’t being fleeced by the powerful.

    • D
      | Reply

      “It’s amazing how many animals we allow to roam the street. These men who will sweet talk any good looking girl they see, then turn into aggressive profanity spewing jerks when the girl doesn’t immediately spread her legs.”

      As much as I can’t stand harassers, your post doesn’t help much. Referring to the harassers as “animals” reminds me of the racist Washington Post comments I see that are thinly-veiled insults against black people. And to say that this only happens to “good-looking” women is not helping the point. Harassment is not about men finding women attractive and trying to get laid, it’s about power and control.

      • raq_2
        | Reply

        I’m not sure why you think “animals” refer to black people … reading some of the comments you’ve left, I think that you’re actually doing more harm than good. Who made you cultural arbiter? I can understand I think where Ads is coming from. While I think sites like this one are a great resource, it’s far more important to go out there and try to talk to people.

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