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USA: Rest Areas Aren’t So Relaxing

In correspondents, Stories, street harassment | on 02.17.13 | by | Comments ( 0 )

By Lauren Duhon, SSH Correspondent

As a college student at Louisiana State University, I spend a lot of time on the interstate driving to and from my home in Texas. Each road trip brings the opportunity for uncomfortable situations as I stop at truck stops, gas stations, fast food restaurants and rest areas along the way.

This weekend I made the 300-mile trip from Baton Rouge to Houston and I encountered some less than comfortable scenarios with each stop. I was confronted with everything from whistles and catcalls, to glares and offensive gestures. Most of the comments were along the lines of “Hey, sweet thing!” or used the words “doll face” and “sweetheart” followed by a honk. The severity of each occurrence varied, but I usually expect to find some lonesome trucker or awkward tourist gawking at me each time I get out of my vehicle.

Most of the time I can ignore the comments, other times I grow increasingly annoyed and angry. The situation should make anyone uncomfortable, let alone a 20-year-old college student by herself on the open road. I have tried to seek out safe havens, but it is usually unavoidable. It has gotten to the point where I often avoid stopping altogether unless I absolutely have to.

It is a shame that I don’t feel comfortable driving on the road with the fear of being harassed by random men. Driving is stressful enough as it is, and it is a pity that the added pressure of harassment from others is even a thought that crosses my mind.

I hope for men to take a second to realize that I am not an object for their viewing pleasure as they stop along the highway. I am the daughter of someone who is trying to safely return home from college. I would surely hope these men wouldn’t want for their daughters to be in the same situation. I shouldn’t feel threatened or vulnerable every time I need to stop. It is not my goal to place rest areas and truck stops in a negative light, but there needs to be a safer climate for everyone on the road and it starts with the men.

Lauren Duhon is a student journalist from LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

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