Question of the Week: “How Do I Deal With Street Harassment?”

Dear Chris,

I was wondering what your take is on immature men. I am in college, so I don’t expect much from most men in their early 20’s(not much at all really and I am going on past experiences). A series of incidents have bought some serious behavior issues to my attention though. The stand out one being an incident earlier this week. I showed up to my afternoon class for an exam, as I was on my way to class a young man thought it would be funny to draw attention to himself by cat calling as loudly as he could. I followed my usual protocol and ignored him. Ten minutes later while the exam was in progress(the entire class was silent and everyone was writing, anyone could see there was testing in progress) I hear some inane talk along the lines of “I am like Jay-Z man” and some obnoxious laughter and psst sounds. To my horror, as well as the horror of the professor and other test takers this “man” was trying to cat call me from outside of the door(I sit towards the back and he followed me to class) I even heard his friend/flunky say “dude they are taking a test”. After class I was questioned over why these two obnoxious idiots were outside the door, after saying I didn’t know them they just followed me around I was advised to go to campus security.

The second incident occurred while I was in the mall shopping, one of the workers at a cell phone booth(you know the type that heckles you to switch plans and phones) made it a point to yell out cat calls anytime I walked past(this has been going on for weeks now and I avoid that end of the mall, meaning I can no longer go to the food court for lunch without being harassed), I eventually managed to get to the booth while the perp was absent. I tried to ask for the manager, but his co-worker who is presumably his wing man said I could just take the complaint up with him(he basically refused to give me the name of his boss), and said perp arrived, took my complaint sheet and was rude and obnoxious as ever.

These both happened within the same week, and both of the men in question were black, the wing men were white and Latino respectively. Keep in mind these men are in their 20’s, these are not teenage kids(I consider over 18 to be too old to be acting like that). My main thought is why do some younger men think this sort of thing is OK? These were not cat calls on a street corner, these happened in settings where it is unquestionably inappropriate. It also adds more fuel to my “men my age are immature that is why I only date older men” argument(each day the actions of my peers prove I have made the right decision).

I was wondering why some men feel that being as loud and incoherent as possible is an effective way to pick up women? I just thought most people outgrew that sort of thing after high school. I know the usual response is just ignore it, but I find the more I ignore it the worse it becomes, I try to avoid the areas these people are in, but it’s just hard. I don’t see why I have to put my life on hold just to go out of my way to avoid people like this. I shouldn’t be harassed while taking a test, or trying to buy lunch yet I am( I don’t consider being made to feel uncomfortable “flirting”, not at all, and if someone tells you to leave them alone then that should tell you something) I have already stopped going to a local grocery store because the immature, loud mouth obnoxious employee would not leave me alone, and his supervisor(who felt I was “overreacting”) refused to do anything about it. My parents are aware of the situation, and my dads advice was to carry pepper spray while shopping. I shouldn’t have to carry a weapon to buy Christmas lights.

Here’s my response:

Okay, what say you, BB&W Crew?