Frequently when the subject of street harassment comes up, men seem to have questions as to what mode of communication is appropriate when wanting to compliment or indicate interest in a woman. While certain behaviors are clearly offensive, others are more nebulous, so I always appreciate curiosity.
Friday night my girlfriends and I went out dancing, and the evening produced a perfect example of what is appropriate behavior as opposed to offensive, menacing harassment:
We were taking a break on the outdoor patio of the dance club. We were celebrating my friend’s impending wedding, so she was adorned in a novelty veil and bride sash. An ever-so-slightly disheveled man approached us and asked us who was getting married.
*Side note: This is almost always the moment in the interaction where the females tense up and have to immediately assess whether the man is a harasser or simply friendly. It can be extremely difficult to judge in that moment, so we frequently draw from past experiences (i.e. if he’s disheveled, he might be a harasser; if he’s overly loud, he might be a harasser; etc.). It is exhausting when you can never just accept a seemingly friendly inquiry as just that. It causes females to stop being open and nice to strangers for fear of them being potential harassers.*
–Anyway, I politely pointed out which friend was getting married.
He turned to her and said “Congratulations.” He then turned back to me and said “You all look fabulous. All of you. And I mean that with respect.”
I said thank you, he said you’re welcome, and then he walked away.
I know that everyone’s bar is set at a different height, but as someone who is always hyper on guard due to years of extreme harassment in this town, I can solidly say that this man did a fine job of paying 6 women a compliment and indicating his admiration without being disrespectful of making us feel at all threatened.
I thought it was an example worth sharing.
Location: Rumors dance club/bar, 19th & M NW, Washington, DCShare on Facebook