“I Yelled Back At Street Harassment For The First Time, And It Felt Empowering.”

Location: 16th and Irving St NW, near the Columbia Heights metro
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

Coming home from a Monday night dance class around 11pm, I was walking towards Mt Pleasant from the Col Heights metro when I noticed a few guys catcalling every woman they walked passed. Just leering and creepily yelling “Hey gorgeous!” and when they finally got to me, I actually yelled back. For the first time.

Spurred by a recent article I had read (in all places, Cosmo), and secure in the amount of people nearby in case the guys tried to physically harm me in any way, I simply yelled “no one likes that!” The guys seemed a little surprised but mostly brushed me off with a “pssh” and kept walking, but it still felt good to use my voice and not remain silent as I have so many dozens of other times.

responding to street harassment
Feeling empowered: “It felt good to use my voice and not remain silent as I have so many dozens of other times.”

Then this morning, I was walking across Mt Pleasant street around 9am to go to work, when a man leeringly gawked at me and started muttering “pretty” while staring at me up and down. I kept walking past but then turned, saw him still gawking, and yelled “STOP it”. He quickly scurried around the corner. It also felt empowering.

Please note that both times, I felt comfortable in my surroundings to yell back, however if the street had been more abandoned, I likely would have just continued on my way in an attempt to not cause trouble that may lead to my physical harm.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 7/9/13 by “Beth P.”

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.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

One Response

  1. Gold Price

    I experience street harassment every time I’m walking down the street. Despite the bigoted assumptions people often make about where and by whom street harassment is perpetrated, I am often greeted with harassing comments by “family men” in the rural, racially homogenous area in which I live. Being in a small town, there are very few places to shop, and I’m constantly faced with the situation of forcing myself to be friendly, helpful, and polite to men who harassed me hours before. More often than not, their harassment doesn’t stop there – I get lewd comments on a regular basis, ones I have to accept jovially with a smile for fear of being scolded by my boss. While it’s never fun to paint on a smile for customers when you don’t really feel like it, it’s somewhat different to be forced to smile and accept sexually harassing comments from people you know you’ll see every day. If I had a dollar for every time a man made a comment about my appearance, told me he’d “show me a good time” when buying alcohol, or told me he’d like to buy me (people have actually said that) when asked how he can be helped, I’d double my wages. I’ve actually been told that I should be friendlier to these men and laugh because they’re just joking.