“What Do You Do When a Guy at a Bar Will NOT Take ‘No’ for an Answer?”

Location: Bar in NE, DC
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

I know this is an unremarkable scenario, but bothersome nonetheless. On New Year’s Eve, I was at a bar along with some friends, dancing on and off to the live DJ music. As inevitably happens, a man came up to me during one of my breaks to invite me to dance – he didn’t say anything, merely holding out his hand. I declined with words – “no, thank you” – and looked away. Nothing noteworthy, except that – you guessed it! – he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He stood there, gesturing again, as I repeatedly demurred. Then he disappeared on the dance floor. When I resumed dancing, I could feel him staring at me intently, and then of course, he asked again. Understandable, but once more I declined.

Finally, as I was standing around in my coat waiting for my friends to leave, he appeared again. I explained that I was about to leave, but he insisted, over and over, even trying to grab my hand though I pointedly looked away from him. He desisted just as I was about to irritatedly snap at him.

In total, I had to rebuff him about five times, and while to most (especially the average male) this might seem like a harmless scenario, it isn’t: having my explicit refusal repeatedly ignored mirrors the harassment dynamic, and puts the woman in the position of either appearing rude or giving in to the guy’s pressure to get it over and done with. And of course, when he finally did dance with a woman, he engineered it as a “couples dance,” one arm around her waist, the other holding her other hand.

Is there a foolproof way to send a creepy, clueless man such as this one on his way? Because the repetitive verbal dance of “NO” is damn boring.

Submitted 1/06/14 by “Claire”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share 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. You can 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).

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