Wow. I had no idea that my experience would be shared by so many vocal, awesome commenters. Thank you to everyone who has shared anger over similar moments, support, solutions, thoughts, or opinions.
A few things that have been coming up in the comments that I want to address:
1. Harassment as compliments
I think a few readers have misunderstood the kind of harassment I'm concerned about. There is no way to mistake a "suck my dick" comment for a compliment. And yelling something from a car, even something meant kindly is not the appropriate way to compliment someone. Ever.
If a guy feels need to tell a girl, who he doesn't know, that she looks nice or that he likes something she is wearing, that is a totally different situation. And one that deserves a separate blog post.
2. Solutions: Silence or The Middle Finger
In the original post, I mentioned that I have a hard time ignoring the situation, so I usually flick the bastards off. I lot of commenters responded that they choose to simply ignore the situation because a reaction is what the guys are looking for. But, I just can't do it that way. I feel a need to respond, and the quickest way in my situation, which is mostly cars driving by and commenting is flicking people off. That's just me though. I do realize that ignoring the situation is probably the best, productive way to handle it, but at this point in my life it just makes me feel powerless, something I don't want to feel.
I've been thinking more about this. I was texting one of my guy friends, while I was walking home the other day. I was complaining about the harassment, and his response:
"Girl, what are you wearing?"
Now, this is a really smart, kind friend and his question didn't bother me too much at the time. But, days later, its irking me. Obviously, this parallels a rape victim being asked what she was wearing. It is a form of victim blaming and nothing new. But, I think it does brooch the importance of talking to people you know about the issue and educating them about what its like to be on the receiving end of such "compliments." A lot of commenters have stressed this, and I think it is so important.
We need to take action. So, let's start an impromptu re-education movement. Seriously, it is a slow start, sporadic, and spontaneous, but it can't hurt. I'm going to start talking to my friends, especially the men in my life, about this issue, and I'm gonna post about when I do. Any reactions or questions or miscommunication will be written about here, so people can refer to them to answer their own questions. And because I'm clearly not an expert, I want you to do the same. You can post here in the comments or email me the story and I'll make a separate blog post for it. I even set up a new gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org Or start your own blog and just link here. There have been lots of awesome hollerback sites started, but this are a documentation of harrassment. I want to start a documentation of avoided harrassment and positive teaching and learning experiences.
We also need a title for this action, I think. In my internship, I'm learning how important clever titles are. Any ideas?
Alright, let's begin! Go talk.