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Fight back or dignified silence?

(49 Posts)
Thistledew Thu 04-Aug-11 11:37:28

Inspired by some of the threads recently about being harassed in public, I thought it might be interesting to discuss practical ways in which we can tackle it.

Of course, we shouldn't have to 'tackle' situations where we feel uncomfortable, and unfortunately whether we respond or not has to be governed by a judgement as to whether it is physically safe to do so, but discussing and rehearsing a few snappy responses may mean that we are more confident in how we handle unpleasant situations.

What are the best ways to deal with harassment in public? Is it better to respond or ignore it? If a response is called for, how can we best respond without descending to the harasser's level of rudeness? What are the responses least likely to create an escalation of the situation?

A few examples I have thought of:

In response to a drawled "Alright darling?" in the street- "Don't call me darling, it is patronising, sexist and rude".

As a quick response to a lewd comment shouted at you by a man driving past "Pervert!".

In response to being groped in a club/bar/packed train - grab the hand, hold it up high and say in a loud voice "Take your hand off my bum/tit/waist".

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 04-Aug-11 12:06:01

I quite enjoy just pretending they've said good morning and replying 'morning' or 'yes, it's a really nice day' with a quick smile. They're expecting a response of some kind; reacting as if they've done nothing much at all is quite funny - as if you don't even recognize them as sexual entities. But it only works for the low-level stuff that they get away with by saying 'I'm just being friendly'.

I don't know a good one to comments from drivers - it pisses me off so much! Groping - again, don't know a good one. Usually I freeze, unfortunately. Though one time his hand was cold and I screamed, and FWIW that works very well, though I've never replicated it! grin

MrsReasonable Thu 04-Aug-11 12:07:08

I find that curling one's fist into an 'O' and waving it, the universal sign for 'wanker', suffices.

Thistledew Thu 04-Aug-11 12:13:52

The thing is, MrsR, that is just the sort of response they are anticipating and wouldn't make them think twice about doing it again. My idea with shouting "pervert" is similar to LRD, it is not something they probably expect, and even the most ardent misogynist does not want to be seen as perverted. The whole reason they do such things is because they see it as normal an acceptable.

MrsReasonable Thu 04-Aug-11 12:18:38

I know, I know, it's not the best way. But it does make me feel a lot better.

aliceliddell Thu 04-Aug-11 12:23:40

Right to bear arms?

Grevling Thu 04-Aug-11 12:24:27

"In response to a drawled "Alright darling?" in the street- "Don't call me darling, it is patronising, sexist and rude".

I'd change that to - "No, I'm not alright. Some twat keeps shouting at me in the street."

Thistledew Thu 04-Aug-11 12:24:53

Fair enough! grin there is a lot to be said for just having the guts to stand up for yourself in whatever way is most comfortable and instinctive to you.

aliceliddell Thu 04-Aug-11 12:26:16

If you wait long enough it will stop because you will be middle-aged and/or disabled, which as we all know, means that you will be a)invisible, b)totally unshaggable

Thistledew Thu 04-Aug-11 12:28:31

True, but right now I am young, fit and healthy and not prepared to take shit lying down. Grrr

squitch Thu 04-Aug-11 12:45:27

I generally go down the pretending not to hear them route. I don't mean ignoring, but saying 'sorry, I didn't catch that'. I've not met anyone yet who doesn't look embarrassed after having to repeat the vile crap they spout more than three times (though I have to admit that sometimes they just get really aggressive and tell me to fuck off, but then I just smile my knowing 'i've won' smile and carry on walking)

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Thu 04-Aug-11 12:56:48

Oh squitch - what I would give to have that composure. I normally go down the MrsR route - but it doesn't make me feel better because I know that they've got to me.

If I am feeling strong I'll just carry on walking as if I haven't heard. Sometimes tbh I haven't heard because it is so garbled/incoherent/not in comprehensible sentences.

I regularly drive a launch as part of the sport I do and get harrassed a lot on that. It is because I am a convenient (for them) distance away and I am a woman and therefore won't go and kick the shit out of them. The advantage of that is often I can't hear them over the noise of the engine so they end up looking like planks with the rest of the docks looking at them while I carry on serenely by!

EldritchCleavage Thu 04-Aug-11 13:17:30

My occasional response to 'Alright, darling' if very aggressive and lechy is 'Not really, my mum died yesterday'. Cue huge embarassment. Never come across a man vile enough to carry on bothering you after that one.

Lewd comment shouted from car: look around in bewilderment like Mr. Magoo, shake head then carry on walking. Takes all the enjoyment away from the man if you don't appear to realise who has done it. When this isn't feasible I steadfastly ignore.

Actual assault: last time a man got too close on the tube (and yes, it was entirely deliberate) I told him calmly to back off. He was furious and started going on at me. I realised the best thing was to seem resolutely unbothered, so I did. Result: he looked like a random nutter, and several people gave him very weird looks.

Prolesworth Thu 04-Aug-11 13:19:08

Message withdrawn

Empusa Thu 04-Aug-11 13:24:21

I normally ignore, they are looking for a response after all.

Though I used to go for a method more like LRD or squitch, shouting something nasty plays into their hands unfortunately. Either that or giving them a really pitying look and a sad shake of the head.

I believe I even said, "I'm so sorry, being a twat must be awful to live with" to one. grin

But then I used to blow kisses at people that yelled abuse at me. Confusion is often the best course of action.

My brother advised me once to just ask them something really random in response, like "how is the weather in Venezuela?" then walk away while they are trying to work out how to respond.

nenevomito Thu 04-Aug-11 13:46:07

In response to "Alright Darling", I have on occasion replied "Yes thanks fluffywuffykins" Guaranteed to make whoever they are with laugh at them.

Liking squitch's work though!

giyadas Thu 04-Aug-11 13:47:43

"but there isn't a wall outside my house" is a good one for confusion. I got that from the Derren Brown prog, when he was getting people to shoplift.
Love the "i'm so sorry, being a twat must be awful to live with". Will try and remember that one. I usually ignore but have been known to respond like MsReasonable - it does get the message across but isn't dignified and you don't feel like you've 'won'.

giyadas Thu 04-Aug-11 13:50:14

yy babyheave I have a load of stock answers like that on standby ;
sugar plum
chooky egg
Usally ends laughter, only offends those that deserve to be offended iyswim.

giyadas Thu 04-Aug-11 14:02:13

sorry, ends in laughter.

TheRealTillyMinto Thu 04-Aug-11 20:07:04

i had 2 11yo boys on a bike try to slap me on the bottom a few days ago. i am in my late thirties. i was too shocked to respond intellectually. managed a few shouted swear words.

i was so shocked was because (1) it was a hard slap (used my arm to block, it was still stinging 5 mins later) (2) i guess i am older than their mothers.

Empusa Thu 04-Aug-11 20:14:22

shock I think anyone would struggle to say something intellectual to that!

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Thu 04-Aug-11 21:46:46

I can never think of anything to say. I usually swear under my breath but just blush and look embarassed, which fuels the fire. Have a thread going about this on AIBU at the moment and am frankly appalled at the number of women effectively telling me to enjoy my looks while I have them.

I came aross this site a year ago when I was openly groped in the street. DH says next time just call the Police, or at least pretend to, saying very loudly "I'd like to report a case of sexual harrassment"

Empusa Thu 04-Aug-11 21:57:51

Just read that, what idiots! I hate this nasty undercurrent of "women are there to be leered at, they should be grateful"

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Thu 04-Aug-11 22:02:40

or just being told I'll miss it when I'm old and haggered

Empusa Thu 04-Aug-11 22:04:58

Meh, I'm only 28 and I don't get it anymore because I've put on weight. No grief here! I might miss the nice comments, but definitely not the leery, shouty ones!

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