I rode my bike to jury duty today. Jury duty was over early, because the court decided at 2:30 they weren’t going to need to call any additional jurors, so I bounced on out of the courthouse and headed home.
I was taking a slightly different route than I had taken to get there, mostly because I wasn’t in a hurry and there was a lot of construction to route around.
Which was how I found myself navigating around construction at H and Massachusetts NW.
I’m wearing a long, flowing skirt today, so when I was on the bike I had the hem gathered up and tucked into my waistband so that it wouldn’t get tangled up in the bike. This also happened to leave my legs mostly exposed.
As I was crossing Massachusetts Ave, this guy on a bike coming the other way yelled… I don’t know, something at me. Which I ignored, because, ew. But out of the corner of my eye I saw him turn around and start following me.
I continued to ignore him, but put on my Safety Face. Women know the Safety Face, but for you dudes who may not: it’s the narrow-eyed partial scowl that says, “No, I really am NOT in the mood to talk to you and you should leave me alone.”
But by this point the guy is behind me, continuing to call after me, making rather explicit remarks about my legs (seriously? SO not my best feature, dude), and as he catches up, insisting that I talk to him. As if.
Meanwhile, there’s construction in the area and the sidewalks are narrow, so I couldn’t just speed up because I was busy dodging urban obstacles.
So I was on the sidewalk and this guy is on the street, keeping pace just ahead of me. Since speeding up wasn’t going to work, I start slowing down, knowing that he’s in the street and can’t really slow down, so maybe he’ll lose interest.
We continued on H like this for a while (2), all the way to North Capitol Street. He turned left, which irritated because I needed to go left. So I waited, and watched (3). He kept looking behind to see where I was, and slowing down, and looking. So at this point I assumed he was NOT losing interest and was intending to wait for me to catch up.
This is, not at all coincidentally, the point at which I decided I was not overreacting to upgrade the guy from “nuisance, potential threat” to “actual threat.”
So instead of going left, toward home, I turned right for a block, turned left, and went down another block before turning back north toward home.
That’s right, I had to take evasive maneuvers to shake a tail in order to get home in a manner that I considered safe.
This is some bullshit. It is why women do not feel safe when a dude is calling out/approaching them on the street. It is why the phrase “Schroedinger’s Rapist” was invented.
I’m not scared off my bike. Fuck that. These are my streets too and I will not be bullied off of them by people who do not know how to behave. But I just might start investigating what kind of hardware would let me mount a baseball bat within easy reach on my bike.
Dudes need to get more incensed about street harassment. This is not okay, and it needs to be stopped.
This made me so mad that I just gave myself my second rage induced headache of the day. This is not ok.