I went out for a low-key night with a friend in a relatively safe, family friendly area of D.C. We bought ice cream and were enjoying eating and walking down the street, until a group of men (you know the type: reclining, legs spread apart, hands on their crotches, basking in their privilege) began shouting “howyoudoins” and commenting lewdly on how I was eating my ice cream. We rolled our eyes and kept walking, albeit more quickly.
Hardly a block further down, we encountered another group of men, one member of which swaggered very close to me and mumbled something vaguely suggestive and obnoxious. Later when we passed the same block, I put on a hooded sweatshirt, hoping that I wouldn’t be recognized and that if perhaps I was showing less skin, I would be left alone. As I got on the metro, the same man got on and began harassing almost every young woman he passed. After he got off, we all shared a collective sigh of relief and a laugh or two, but the general tone was that, as women, it’s exhausting to constantly have to be on edge – calculating escape routes, preparing firm (yet not “over-dramatic”) rejections, tensing our bodies just in case, considering what readily available object works best as a self-defense weapon, wondering if it’s our fault – our clothing, our make-up, our demeanor – and if other people see it that way.
We would love to be able to feel at home in our own city.
- E. Richardson
Location: 601 F Street NW Washington, D.C.Share on Facebook