“I Fought Back Against Street Harassment!”: A bystander intervention success!

Location: Silver Spring, MD
Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)

I wrote a few months back about a case of exposure I was unfortunate enough to witness back in November on the Red Line. Since then, I’ve followed the CASS Facebook Page and I read as many of the stories I can – they infuriate me. Street harassment had never really occurred to me as something that anyone did anything about, or really cared about. It happened, you lowered your head and walked a little faster, and that was that.

Since I became a reader, I faced continued street harassment (who doesn’t?),  but three days ago I finally fought back. I was standing behind a young girl, maybe 16, who was getting off her shift at the grocery store. We were waiting for the walk sign to come on so we could cross the road. Traffic was jammed during rush hour, so a rusty, nasty old pick-up truck was stopped just in front of us, waiting for the light ahead to turn red. And they started in on her. “Smile baby, it won’t kill you to smile.” And she just looked down, tried to pretend she didn’t notice. And I started shouting. “Get the hell out of here! She doesn’t want to talk to you nasty old perverts!” The men shouted back, saying they weren’t talking to me and asking if I were jealous. “Why would I be jealous about a bunch of dirty old men? Get out of here! Drive on before you get rear-ended like you deserve, and leave her alone!” Eventually, the light changed and they moved on. The girl seemed shy but she thanked me, and I told her that I couldn’t stand rude people.

I’m almost excited for my next bout of street harassment, because on the way home that day I thought up a new line that I really want to use on the next guy who tries it: “Do you kiss your mother with that disrespectful mouth, or did she already die of shame for having you for a son?” It’s a mouthful though, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say it when the time comes. But thanks to this site and these stories, I’m ready to try!

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 4/4/13 by “Meghan”

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:
Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. Recommended tip: Program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

3 Responses

  1. Dechanique

    Rock on!!! Thank you for taking on those perverts!

  2. Julia

    So glad to hear you felt empowered to call them out! And the awesome thing about being an active bystander and intervening is that you’re also modeling those behaviors for others, who may then step in and say something next time. That, ladies and gents, is how we change the culture!

  3. Fred Royer

    I am sypmathetic to your cause, but I would like you guys to be wary about confronting people. Ask Jayna Murray how confronting people worked out for her. The first rule of war is to know your enemy, so act accordingly and choose your battles accordingly. And stay safe!