I’m a guy. I was walking in the Wynwood area in Miami with two women friends of mine and as we turned into a corner, a group of 10 guys were surrounding the sidewalk harassing every women that went by with crude sexual comments and by invading their personal space.
In my head, I wanted to stay close to both my friends so as to put some space in between them and those guys as we went through, but we were surrounded. As they were harassing the group in front of us, one of my friends just ran pass through while the other stood still for a second. I don’t remember if I told her to keep moving, if I pushed her to move fast so we don’t get separated or if I just stood there next to her; I think I did the later but honestly, all those three reactions make me feel embarrassed, like I either pushed her to do something she didn’t want to do or simply failed to help her when she needed it. After a couple of seconds, she started moving forward and I moved right behind her so no one would come near from the back.
My friends got spared from their personal space being invaded, but the crude comments still made it through. I felt, and still feel, awful for not doing more, can’t imagine how they felt like. I keep thinking what else should’ve I done: should’ve I stood up to them? Told them to quit it? Turned around with my friends to the other side of the sidewalk? At the very minimum I should’ve alerted the police or taking a picture of them to post it on twitter to warn people right? I didn’t.
All that I can recall thinking at that moment was stay close to them so that those guys don’t get near them while we walk by, and afterwards make my friends forget what happened by trying to make conversation about something else. What bothers me the most is that if I find myself in the same situation in the future, I’m still not sure what the best course of action is. It pisses me off how useless I was to my friends and it scares me that in the future, I might be just as useless.
Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?
The fact that there is no accountability for these behaviors is what I think makes street harassment so common and the victims of it feel so powerless. A channel by which street harassment can be reported, and an audience that tunes in to these reports may a least bring some public shaming to the behavior. If people know that it is quite likely they are going to be branded as predators by everyone they know if the engage in street harassment, they might be less incline to engage in it.
Location: Wynwood area, Miami. Near the Wynwood walls walk entrance
Need support? Call the toll-free National Street Harassment hotline: 855-897-5910