Danielle’s story: A new strategy to end street harassment

I moved from the suburbs of Maryland into the lovely city of Washington D.C. but I seem to never be able to enjoy this beautiful city because my head is constantly down. I’ve been a victim of street harassment since I had on a training bra but never to this extent. I went from driving everywhere easily getting to point A to point B to walking and biking everywhere and experiencing catcalls constantly. I’ve recently become more invovled in the issue of street harassment and have a true burning passion to try to put an end to it. I believe there is a way to stand up to these perpentrators without escalating the situation. After being harassed on my way to tutor at an Elementary School around the corner from my house, I, for possibly the first time ever, looked the guy in the eye and told him to not “fucking” speak to women that way and he laughed at me. While the word “fucking” should not have been used, but nevertheless when I passed him on the way back he didn’t dare even look up at me. I got home and thought more about what happened. I realised that it’s important to keep your composure to effectively get your point through to the harasser. I also realised that there it’s almost impossible to do that by yelling something back, or giving the person the finger. So I sat down at my computer and typed up some words which eventually led me to making a flyer to hand to the street harasser. What I do is I fold the piece of paper up very small , so perhaps when I hand it to them they think I’m giving them my number. I look them in the eye but with no emotion. The time it takes for them to un-fold the piece of paper gives me enough time to distance myself from the person, possibly be out of sight. I wouldn’t do this on a train, bus or at night when no one’s around but most of the time I’m harassed is in daylight on the street. I’ve been to many city’s and I’ve never seen harassment so intense as it is in D.C. I think it’s important to put information directly in the perpetrators face. Yes, there’s the street harassment ad campaign in D.C. which I appreciate, but you cannot make someone read those signs. You can make a website dedicated to to end up street harassment but you also cannot make anyone read that. So with the flyer, maybe they read it or maybe they crumble it up, spit and stomp on it. But the point is that they see it and maybe some of these people will just think about it for a moment. I could go on an on about this as I’m sure a lot of people could, but I’ll stop here. Thanks