How A Night Out in DC Means A Night Full of Street Harassment

How A Night Out in DC Means A Night Full of Street Harassment
How A Night Out in DC Means A Night Full of Street Harassment

Just how many times do you have to say “no?”

By Lindsey

A few months ago, my friend Janine and I went out in Dupont.  I had a great time eating, drinking and dancing, but there were definitely certain things I could’ve done without.

When I got on the metro a guy got up and moved halfway up the car to sit right behind me. Cute? No. Threatening? Yes. And then a guy on the red line asked me if I wanted to get a drink with him. What? I stood three feet away from you for two stops – and you want to get drinks? You don’t even know my name.

And to the guys who asked what we thought of their muscles and then told us if we got in their cab they would show us how they use them. NO. Dude, I’m just trying to get a beer and some food.

After dinner we headed to the bar and grabbed drinks. We were talking on the rooftop at Public. It was nice. Until two guys came up and started to dance close to us. To avoid them we shifted to the right. But then they came up behind us and asked us to dance – once, twice, three times. And each time we said no – and then finally walked away to get another drink. Standing at the bar we realized – they followed us! STOP. We made a quick escape and picked up yet another gem. He proceeded to follow us around for the rest of the night; it got old fast.

I just wish guys had more respect for me than to grab my thigh or grind on my ass.

Downstairs they cleared out the couches so we started dancing. And it was fun! Minus the guys who tried to grind on our asses. Thanks, but no thanks. And the one who thought it would be cute to try and put his hand up my skirt as he walked by. FUCK OFF. Plus the one who started yelling at me when I said I didn’t want to dance with him. Yet another gem.

Eventually it was time to go. And there were still guys who reached out and tried to grab our arms so we would dance with them. When we finally made it down to the door, the two guys who followed us to the bar magically reappeared! Thankfully, security stood by us and asked them to leave. We were worried they would be waiting outside.

We split up on our way to the metro since we were going on different lines in opposite directions. As I hurried to make the last train, I met yet another charmer. After learning I was heading to the metro he grabbed my arm and told me there was no way I could make it — so I should go home with him. OBVIOUSLY. How did I not think of that? Luckily we were right in front of the station by that point and the security guard came to investigate.

I really did have a good time that night. When we were dancing — without being accosted — it was fun. I love going out with Janine for some girl time – but it’s definitely less eventful when I go out with my guy friends. I just wish guys had more respect for me than to grab my thigh or grind on my ass. I just want to dance — ALONE.

Lindsey is a young sales professional living in Arlington, Virginia. This essay was originally published on her blog.

MORE FROM “My Streets, Too”:

ABOUT “My Streets, Too

“My Streets, Too” is CASS’s ongoing series on personal writings on street harassment by members of the DC community. Email Renee to submit writings using your full name, initials, or anonymously (just let us know). Please be sure to use the subject line “My Streets, Too.”

Spreading the Word on Our Bystander Intervention Work to Prevent Sexual Assault!

Just two weeks ago, CASS’s Zosia and I teamed up with Lauren Taylor of Defend Yourself and presented CASS/Defend Yourself’s collaborative Safe Bars program to a packed room at the 2013 National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in Los Angeles! We co-presented with Carol Hensell of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Myra Ferell-Womochil of Victim Witness Services of Coconino County, who helped bring innovative sexual assault prevention training to alcohol-serving establishments in Arizona through the Arizona Safer Bars Alliance (ASBA). Together, we discussed and compared CASS’s grassroots approach to violence prevention through our Safe Bars program (which was in part inspired by Arizona’s work) and ADHS’s community and state-government led efforts in Arizona.

The packed room while we presented at NSAC!

Both Safe Bars and ASBA are rooted in bystander intervention, which is a key approach to preventing sexual violence. In presenting at NSAC, Zosia explained how bystander intervention trainers should envision themselves as community organizers, particularly ones who are charged with helping build the skills of leaders. Zosia emphasized the importance of tailoring bystander intervention approaches to each specific community. Trainers should also be sure to honor the knowledge that trainees already have on the issue and help build their sense of accountability to others. In regard to preventing sexual harassment and assault in bars, the most crucial aspect of bystander intervention training is often subverting the myths regarding alcohol use and sexual assault.

Julia shared with the NSAC audience the basic elements of bystander intervention. She also discussed CASS’s work with DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), for which we provided testimony on the need for sexual assault prevention training in bars and clubs, developed and delivered by subject matter experts. After the session was over, we were excited to be approached by individuals from across the country who have been working on similar prevention efforts in their states and communities. There was great energy from the group about CASS’s work in DC and helping similar efforts by sharing our successes and challenges.

Collective Action for Safe Spaces at the 2013 National Sexual Assault Conference
Our NSAC team! Lauren Taylor, Zosia Sztykowski, Julia Strange, Carol Hensell and Myra Ferell-Womochi (l-r)

We learned so much at NSAC! We loved the opportunity to present alongside so many wonderful friends and allies doing critical work in violence prevention, including FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, who shared their amazing “Pink Loves Consent” work; Chai Jindasurat of the Anti-Violence Project, who spoke on violence prevention efforts in LGBTQ communities; Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment, who presented on dismantling rape culture; and Sangeetha Ravichandran of A Long Walk Home, who shared her incredible work using the arts to empower youth to heal from sexual violence.

We hope to see you all next year at the 2014 National Sexual Assault Conference in Pittsburgh!