is there any way to get this guy to stop harassing me on the street?
October 3, 2014 11:27 AM   Subscribe

I've never met this guy, but he acts like he has the right to bother me. I just want him to leave me alone. What can I do? I hate this, it makes me feel sick.

1) my work and home are on the same side of the street. I walk to and from work.
2) I always encounter this man on my way to or from work.
3) every time I walk past him, he says "hey baby", " hey princess", "hey gorgeous" or etc.
4) he never yells these things, but only says them loud enough that I can hear.
5) I went from quickly looking away when he said these things, to avoiding eye contact altogether, to completely avoiding looking at him or acknowledging his presence, to basically not looking up when I'm walking to and from work. I do not respond or in any way indicate that it is acceptable for him to bother me this way. He won't stop.
6) I've taken to wearing the baggiest, most un-revealing clothing I can find. He won't stop.
7) he's way bigger than me. I'm afraid of pissing him off.
8) if he's trying to upset me, I'm afraid that saying something will egg him on.
9) I live in an area where greeting a stranger is not unheard of. (Usually "good morning", not "hey princess"). I'm afraid of being treated like I'm overreacting, like he's just being friendly or polite.

Is there any way to make him stop? It upsets me more every time. I honestly feel like crying. I'm not his fucking "girlfriend" "princess" or "baby" or anything else.
posted by windykites to Human Relations (68 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you're afraid of confronting him (which is TOTALLY understandable)

1. Wear headphones and don't make eye contact. Make him completely invisible and inaudible to you as you walk by.

2. Go out of your way to avoid him. So what if your work and your home are on the same side of the street? Cross the street and walk on the other side of the block to avoid him. Yeah, it's an inconvenience, but so is walking past him.

3. As you're doing these things, repeat to yourself in your head "He is nothing, he is nothing, he is nothing." Smile to yourself after you walk by him because you gave yourself the power to make him mean nothing.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this. It really sucks.

Sometimes you can't change another person's behavior, but you can change your reaction to it.
posted by erst at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

I had this situation on my way to work for years, and no amount of direct confrontation would make it stop. I realized that all my female coworkers would cross the street to avoid him even though it was out of the way for them, and we decided to take it up with the guy's boss, who didn't care in any way at all. I was pretty much just a few weeks away from actual legitimate homicide when I guess he and his buddies finally pissed off the wrong woman and all got fired. I'm not saying to wait it out and just deal with it, but if the option of walking on the opposite side of the street is available to you, it may be the easiest thing to do.

Also I just reread your question and realized that this is about an actual passerby and not someone working at a local business, yes? Either way I would just walk on the other side of the street if possible. I know it fucking sucks that there's nothing else you can do but my real advice, which would be to savage his face with a fistful of broken glass, will not be helpful in the real world.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2014 [14 favorites]

Street harassment is the worst. It's scary, unnerving, and reminds me that the public sphere isn't really mine. And, I really, really hate when people minimize it by suggesting that it's flattering or that the harasser is just being nice, though obtuse.

Besides headphones, sunglasses, and no engagement, I don't know what else to suggest. I've had "friendly" street harassment like what you're describing turn into extremely aggressive, threatening, curse-filled yelling on the turn of a dime after I've suggested that the harasser leave me alone and not speak to me. I resent having to reroute my path to avoid stuff like this, but sometimes it's the better option.
posted by quince at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

You could use the Hollaback app to report him, or talk directly to the police. Is he just always walking in the neighborhood, or a homeless guy on the street?

Also seconding the idea of headphones (though they can lead to other problems) and taking a different route.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Don't confront. With these guys, they want you to engage. If you say (as I would) 'Leave me the fuck alone,' they'll have a ready retort. Ignore him. Headphones and keep moving.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2014

Headphones and sunglasses. Just don't let the creeper in. He no longer exists to you.
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you wear headphones, just put the headphones on as a way of discouraging him, don't listen to anything. You need to be able to hear in case he says or does something threatening.
posted by Librarypt at 11:43 AM on October 3, 2014 [31 favorites]

I would maybe ask police about it if it's just some guy who loiters at that corner and hits on women passing by. I'm sure a cop can tell him to stop separately without you being around. Unfortunately, you can't really confront him and the best thing is totally ignoring he even exists. Any sort of response will only reinforce his behavior because he got a pretty woman to notice him. I have definitely crossed the street to get away from harassers. It hasn't happen to me a ton, but it feels very threatening and I hate it. Buy a pepper spray key chain if you're worried about an aggressive harasser. I understand how hard uncomfortable and scary this is -- unfortunately, the real answer is that men stop feeling entitled to objectify women on the street, but that's hardly a realistic solution in this case.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:44 AM on October 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

This sucks and you shouldn't have to deal with this, but headphones with nothing playing in them and changing your route are the only non-confrontational options. It's unclear from your questions whether this is one of those folks who sits on a street corner or stands in front of a deli all day harassing women, or if this person is seeking you out specifically, if it's the latter you may want to begin recording these interactions discretely and get the police involved.

You have every right to feel upset and uncomfortable, and you should think about your safety. But something that helps for me when I'm unproductively stewing on something a random passerby has said is to remember that every minute I spend dwelling on their words I'm letting them take over that much more of my life.
posted by edbles at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2014

I believe he either lives or works in the area, I don't think he's a homeless dude (that wouldn't freak me out as much honestly). He's usually standing near one of the shops. Today he was walking east as I was walking west. I think he targets me specifically, but he's quiet enough that he could do this to other women and I wouldn't know.
posted by windykites at 11:47 AM on October 3, 2014

I thought that perhaps walking on the other side of the street to avoid him was a no-no, like it would show him I'm upset or something?
posted by windykites at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You know, I'd dress how I want, walk tall, look him in the eye as I passed, and say in a bright and dominating tone "Good morning!" and absolutely not allow him to get to me or cause me to dress or behave differently. This is daytime, right? Other people around? What can he do?

But then I'm old and mean, and maybe you are not.
posted by zadcat at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2014 [35 favorites]

Turning away has made you into an easy target. He knows you are afraid.

I lived in high crime urban areas for a long time. You have to act crazy and be confrontational. That is the quickest way to end this.

If you are to afraid of being confrontational - then amp up the crazy. Talk to yourself about how gross he is every time you pass him. Have a freak out meltdown on the street. Make a scene. Every time he says something, make a crazy bag-lady scene on the street.

The moment he realizes that if he says something, you will start having a loud emotional breakdown on the street, he will stop.

As long as he knows he can say what he wants, and you will not respond, he will keep going.

If you talk to yourself on the street, pick your nose, and everytime he says something to you, you stop in your tracks, start swaying back and forth, screaming about evil men in the world - he will stop.
posted by Flood at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2014 [16 favorites]

I get that you don't want to confront him, but that is in my experience really and truly the only thing that has ever worked. You encounter this fuckstick every day, why should he get to dictate your walk to work? That's so unfair.

Personally I would stop one morning, look him dead in the eye, and say very firmly and calmly, "you do not know me, I am not your princess, you are being inappropriate," then continue on your way. When he attempts a response, tell him to fuck off.

This (again, in my experience) has actually had a pretty decent success rate for repeat offenders. From then on you can just walk by and do the complete headphones ignore. But I have always had more success confronting than avoiding.

I have never experienced any physical retaliation, just verbal spewing, for what it's worth.
posted by phunniemee at 11:55 AM on October 3, 2014 [16 favorites]

I would go out of my way to make the path that I took unpredictably random (walking on the other side of the street, around the block, even working from home sporadically if that is possible).
posted by apartment dweller at 11:55 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could contact a business that he stands in front of while doing this, and let them know it deters people from their premises.
posted by jgirl at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Don't change the way you dress because of this dude. F. THAT.

And nthing the other advice about loudly and crazily saying "Good morning!" before he has a chance to speak. You gotta project an air of confidence, of not-giving-any-fucks.

This book might help with getting into a crazy fuck-all mindset with regard to sleazy men who want to intimidate you and/or wear you down to the point that you stop resisting their advances.
posted by magdalemon at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

In my experience, ignoring them doesn't work. If it's the same people who see you every day, you have to talk to them. Sometimes you can be somewhat aggressive, sometimes it's about having a normal conversation. I see a lot of the same dudes every day and it's the only way I could get THEM to ignore ME.
posted by girlmightlive at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2014

I thought that perhaps walking on the other side of the street to avoid him was a no-no, like it would show him I'm upset or something?

The idea is to change your route so as not to encounter him not to cross the street once you sight him. So if you are walking down 1st street your new route is to walk up to 2nd and go back down the next street over to get to your work.
posted by edbles at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have a friend walk near enough to you as you walk to take a photo of this guy. Print it out. Burn it.

Or show it to someone in law enforcement.

Have a large threatening looking male friend walk with you to and from work for a few days.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2014

My approach would vary from passive aggressive to aggressive. I have lots of law enforcement/firefighter type friends, and I would not be above getting one of them to walk with me in uniform, for a week as a deterrent. I realize you may not have a handy cop friend, but if you have any available person that can dress as one for say, 'Halloween', this would be a good time to discourage further interactions.
posted by tatiana131 at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does he do this only to you, or to every woman he sees? How does he interact with other people?

A concern I have: how safe are you when you encounter this guy? Are there lots of other people around?

Have you talked to other people in the neighborhood about him? What's his story?

I don't have a magic answer, but I wonder if knowing more might help you feel more in control.
posted by doctor tough love at 12:26 PM on October 3, 2014

The comment above to "amp up the crazy" totally sounds like something I would have done when I was younger. Just create some kind of insane monologue, do it quietly most of the time, with occasonal yelling as I got near this guy. Maybe something like, " gun my gunmygunmygunmyGUNMYGUNMYGUNREADYreadymygun"

Now, I might actually try asking him politely but firmly to not talk to me and to let me concentrate on my own thing as I'm walking. Just say that I really need the time to concentrate and prepare for work. As far as I can tell from what you write, he might just not know how to behave well. If no one's explained it, he just might not know.

If that didn't work, then I might indeed try to get a member of the police to help. If he/she just happened to be nearby when offending dude talked to me (which could be prearranged), and then had a word with him, then maybe it would make an impact. Keeping in mind that offending dude might feel the need to apologize later -- so explaining to him that he shouldn't apologize, either, might help also.
posted by amtho at 12:26 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought that perhaps walking on the other side of the street to avoid him was a no-no, like it would show him I'm upset or something?

I doubt he has the brains to even think through such a scenario ("ooooh, she's avoiding me, that means she's playing hard to get"). He probably would just idly wonder to himself a couple times "hey, I wonder where that chick is" and then forget about you.

If you live in a neighborhood where it's the norm for people to greet each other casually like that, maybe approaching one of the old ladies in the neighborhood and asking for advice might work. You know the kind of old ladies I'm talking about - the ones who've got their eyes on everything. They get the difference between "just being nice" and "being a creep," and if they hear that someone in their neighborhood is scaring a nice young girl like that...boy, they may give him an earful on your behalf. If you don't know any off hand, maybe stop in at whatever local beauty parlor and saying that you're new in town (even if you're not) and asking for advice from someone...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2014

He already knows you're upset, that's what he's trying to accomplish. Cross the street if you want to cross the street.

I personally loathe confrontation...until I can't take it any more. And then I would pull out the crazy. If screaming his words back at him until he runs away isn't your style, you can always start bringing a whistle or air horn with you, and use it to drown him out as you walk by. Shouldn't take more than a couple of days.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Your gut tells you he'd react badly to being confronted. I think listening to your gut is a good plan in that case. I often confronted guys like this back in the day, but occasionally there would be someone where I'd be like HOLY SHIT DANGEROUS. I couldn't pinpoint why, but no, I would not confront them.

So it's not a matter of character (if you were meaner/braver/better/etc.). It's your personal safety assessment and that's important and way more valuable than ours because we don't get all the information you do.

Since walking on the opposite side of the street doesn't feel safe to you, I'd consider walking on a different street (like walk a block in the opposite direction, walk up that street, then walk back to work. Then he won't even see you. I'd also strongly consider calling the police if that seems right to you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:30 PM on October 3, 2014 [14 favorites]

Also, it's important to say that I am so sorry you're dealing with this. You sound--reasonably-- really overwhelmed and totally frustrated with this person's shitty behavior. It sounds like you're hanging in there in a really tough situation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is vague because I do not have experience with this and so don't know what I'm talking about, but...He thinks he's stronger than you: that he can harass you (which is illegal) and you can't retaliate. I'm guessing you're richer and more socially connected than this guy. Turn these advantages into (physical) strength: get help from police/lawyers, friends, and technology so that 1. he gets in legal trouble for harassment and 2. he will lose badly if he tries to fight you. The best way to seem threatening is to actually be threatening. I'm sorry the world is what it is.
posted by sninctown at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2014

Your gut tells you he'd react badly to being confronted. I think listening to your gut is a good plan in that case. I often confronted guys like this back in the day, but occasionally there would be someone where I'd be like HOLY SHIT DANGEROUS. I couldn't pinpoint why, but no, I would not confront them.

This. I'm middle aged now, so 1) don't get harassed as much & 2) don't mind confronting people like I'm their mom and aren't they ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES to harass people like they do!!

But when I was younger? I was much more careful and I don't think that was the wrong way to go.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2014

I realize you may not have a handy cop friend, but if you have any available person that can dress as one for say, 'Halloween', this would be a good time to discourage further interactions.

Please don't get into impersonating-a-police-officer territory. Very bad juju.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Personally, assuming it was daytime and in public, I would look him in the eye and tell him to go fuck himself. It usually either works, or causes some cussing, or occasionally causes the person to say "hey bitch" next time they see me, but I simply tell them to go fuck themselves again or I will call the cops, and I feel better than if I had ignored it. I would absolutely not change the way I dressed or walk around the block to avoid him or whatever unless it was like, midnight and I actually thought he would attack me.
posted by celtalitha at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, that is not overreacting at all. Of course he will act like it is, but that's because he's a creeper, no more.
posted by celtalitha at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

This really sucks and I'm sorry that you're dealing with it. I've had similar experiences, and they've stuck with me no matter how they turned out - whether I confronted them or not, whether I headphoned up or not. I haven't figured out a way yet to make this not matter to me.

What has helped is having a blanket response, and my response is "shut the fuck up," delivered in a very even tone of voice. I don't make eye contact and I don't break my stride, and I repeat as necessary. My street harassment happens in a city, though, and there are always plenty of people around. Something that might work better for you is "leave me alone." It's hard to argue with that. He continues to engage? "Leave me alone."

But yeah, I'm not sure how safe I would feel doing that if there's no one around. If there isn't, I'd go with the sunglasses/headphones but no music/gaze on the horizon thing, which sucks and you shouldn't have to disengage from the world in this way, because it's completely unfair and infuriating and you never did anything to deserve this. And again, I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

My go-to move is to raise a hand at almost eye level (think "talk to the hand" but with rage/strength and not girlfriend sass) make eye contact and very loudly and firmly say (or shout) NO! Then I walk away. So far this has always shut down the offender.

Some part of me wants you to "trip" and throw a coffee on him everytime you pass. Or use an air horn but that is not my most grown up suggestion.
posted by saradarlin at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

What about getting a bicycle and then biking to/from work? This could easily be combined with some of the other suggestions too.
posted by obliterati at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2014

Could you say to him "Please don't say anything to me. I don't want to talk to you"? Or would that encourage him? Or maybe "You're a creep. You should know that."
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2014

Take his picture and say, " case anything ever happens to me."

Or point a can of bear spray at him when he walks by (check your local laws).

Obviously it's easy to suggest things over the internet. Good luck removing this creep from your life.
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, I have to say up front that I have no experience with this sort of thing. I'm a middle-aged white guy who has lived a pretty sheltered life. So, take my advice with a grain of salt -- or an entire shaker of salt.

Right now, you're allowing this guy to have power over you. He knows that and you know that. To me, a lot of the suggestions here simply play to that. If you cross the street or change the way you dress or tell him off, you're giving him even greater power. At the same time, I can understand not wanting to cause a full-on confrontation.

Here's the grain-of-salt part:

What would you happen if you grabbed a friend or colleague and approached the guy who's harassing you? Don't "confront" him. Don't start an argument. But with support at your side, go up and have a conversation with the guy. Put out your hand and introduce yourself. "Hi, my name's windy [leave out the kites]. What's yours?" Ask him about himself. Tell him that while he thinks he's having fun, he's making you uncomfortable. The goal here is for him to see you as an actual person instead of an object on the street. Doing this would humanize both him (for you) and you (for him).

Again, I'm a sheltered middle-aged white guy, so maybe this idea is preposterous. Maybe it would create more problems. But from my experience, this sort of thing can often be defused when both sides see and respect each other as actual people instead of strangers.
posted by jdroth at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

This guy wants you to be unnerved and quiet. He's a roach in the shadows who's preying on your timidity. If you feel comfortable enough to do it, expose him to sunlight. It's a busy street, right? Go vocal. Get loud. Yell: "Every day you harass me! Every damn day! Leave me the f*** alone! You're a f***ing creep!" ... and so on. I like the air horn idea.
posted by Leontine at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Without knowing his demeanor and tone, it's hard to tell what the best approach would be. He may be deliberately being sleazy - tone of voice, coming too close - in which case, I think the crazy act might work. I'd also start conspicuously carrying pepper spray, and kind of wave it around while you mumble crazy stuff. He'll probably stop if he thinks he might get pepper sprayed.

Then again, there are some men that just talk to women this way. Every woman is baby, sweetheart, princess. They aren't even thinking about what they're saying, or think it's complimentary. With this type, I might actually stop and say something like "Hey man, I know you don't mean anything, but I don't like it when you you call me (whatever). Please stop. Saying good morning is okay, but I am not your baby." The key is to say this as good naturedly as possible, to make him want to be on your good side. And this assumes you're okay with him greeting you, as long as it's not with sexist terms. I don't think the direct, confrontational fuck off approach will work with this guy. If he thinks he's being nice it will piss him off, and if he's being creepy on purpose, saying anything will only reinforce it.

If he does this to all women, maybe you could get a bold friend, who doesn't have to regularly see this guy, to walk by him a few times and kind of test him - have her see how he responds to be told to stop, or fuck off, while you or someone else watches from a car or something, ready to call police (and provide an escape route) in case it does go bad.

If you feel like none of these options will work, I think walking on the other side of the street (the whole way) may be your best resort. If he escalates in any way (crossing the street to you, etc.) I would call the police. There will at least be a record then, and if you have to call enough times they may actually do something. Sorry, it's shitty so many guys feel entitled to act like this. I take public transportation so I deal with a lot of this, and I know how hard it can be to say anything.
posted by catatethebird at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Engaging with him is likely to make him feel rewarded. If he was a reasonable person, yelling at him, telling him to stop or asking him politely would work. He's not a reasonable person, as evidenced by him continuing to greet you this way despite you ignoring him.
If this was me, I would try to ignore/avoid as long as possible. I'd also carry a whistle (for attention) or flashlight (for blinding him) if I felt physically unsafe. I'd also talk to the police, but not have much hope of them doing anything.
posted by soelo at 1:47 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I greet everyone in my daily life. I'm not engaging, just acknowledging. Before this dude says something to you, I'd just say, 'sup, with a nod, and keep on walking.

It absolutely sucks that people think that they can just intrude upon your world, but some of us are just overly friendly. I also think it sucks that these yutz's feel free to say obnoxious stuff to women, it's infuriating. BUT, you can change the context and the conversation, and that changes the exchange.

So rather than being cowed by some random dude with dubious intentions, you can choose to live large and in charge and to be the bringer of sunshine to your neighborhood by being the chick who nods and says 'sup, to everyone.

If by chance this guy tries to say anything more, I'd just say, "Gotta go!"

This was on The Daily Show last night. It was brilliant.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:15 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm just going to toss this out, even though I'm sure everyeone will hate it.

Ignoring all of the previous responses, but just paying attention to the OP's words:

> 3> every time I walk past him, he says "hey baby", " hey princess", "hey gorgeous" or etc.
> 4) he never yells these things, but only says them loud enough that I can hear.
> 9) I live in an area where greeting a stranger is not unheard of. (Usually "good morning",
> not "hey princess"). I'm afraid of being treated like I'm overreacting, like he's just being
> friendly or polite.
> I think he targets me specifically, but he's quiet enough that he could do this to other
> women and I wouldn't know.

With only that to go on - this guy sounds pretty low-key for a street harasser. I mean, has he ever tried to touch you? Does he call you vulgar names? If so, then please ignore the rest of this.

Most of the responses I've seen so far seem to advocate either avoiding him or escalating. I'm not at all sure that escalating is a good idea.

For the sake of completeness, I'm gonna toss out the idea of just making the guy an acquaintance. Here's a sample script:

You walk past, he says "hey princess", and you pause, turn back to him, and say "I'm not your princess, but you can call me windykites. What's your name?" Be reserved, like if you can send off vibes that say "if you're not a jerk, then maybe we can get along".

If he reacts like a psycho, then run.

But if he says something like "I'm Bill, how do you do?" you can respond "nice to finally meet you, Bill. And please call me windykites, okay? I figured it was about time we met. I've got run to work - seeya 'round." For extra points, be carrying something in both hands so there's no hand-shaking gonna happen.

Next time you see him, say "Hi Bill" as you pass. Don't leave an opening to stand and chat, and have an excuse ready if you need it ("I've got to get home, sorry"). The idea here is not to be best buddies, but just be acquaintances: "lovely weather today, Bill!" "yes indeed, Miss windykites!"

'Cause it might simply be that the guy is one of those people who feels the need to tender a greeting whenever he sees someone.

*shrug* there it is. It might help, it might not. I think that even if it bombed, you'd still be in better shape than if you escalated.

[on preview, more or less kinda what Ruthless Bunny said]
posted by doctor tough love at 2:20 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

A few things occur to me...

Say whatever inappropriate thing he says back. "Good morning, princess!"

Say "Good morning!" With a smile while taking his picture. "So they can find you."

Ask him "Are you just bored or something?"
posted by zennie at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

"I'm not your princess, but you can call me windykites. What's your name?"

I wouldn't use your actual name for this, or some googleable username either. Come up with some new name you use just for this sort of thing. It's actually pretty handy to have a special name you give out to people who you'd rather not talk to, it comes off much more naturally and close friends can know what's up if the guy asks about "notyourname".
posted by yohko at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Phunniemee has it....I would also say no headphones because I've read too many stories about creepers ripping them off.
posted by brujita at 2:55 PM on October 3, 2014

I might say "good morning, princess" if there were enough people around and I didn't think I was endangering myself by saying that to him. But that's just me.
posted by tel3path at 3:20 PM on October 3, 2014

Craigslist an open request for an A-Team, a Patriot's Angels group, or some other civil pride organization to assist you. People will. Arrive.
posted by buzzman at 3:21 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seconding buzzman. That is the first thing I thought of. That or having big (friend/relative) man to walk with you for a few trips.
posted by Leenie at 3:40 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

nth-ing making him see you as a person rather than escalating and antagonizing him.

If you can find out why he's there, which business he works at or which bldg he lives in, you'll have more power over him and have more options. Maybe enlist a friend to stake him out. If he works at a business there, get a friend or two and stop in, as customers - that'll change the dynamic. If he lives there, get 3 big guy friends, and hang out on his stoop one Friday night.
posted by at at 3:41 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have no idea if you can pull this off, but my approach with such individuals is to only reply when they say something decent. One guy yelled at me "I love you. I want to marry you." I ignored that and kept walking studiously across the street (in a way that signaled he was being ignored) but when he then yelled "Have a good day" (or something like that) I did reply to that (but kept walking -- I acknowledged him but did not engage further). His friends then laughed, possibly/probably at him. He behaved a lot better the next time I saw him.

This man most likely wants attention from you and is possibly so fucked in the head that negative attention is just as good as positive attention in his eyes (stuff like yelling "fuck you" -- which he will probably reply something like "any time baby" or "your place or mine?"). Treat him like a dog and train him to behave how you want . Since he wants something from you, that potentially puts you in the position of power. Dole out attention only for good behavior. Otherwise, ignore him, including, yes, walking elsewhere if necessary.

The same guy mentioned above began saying "God bless you" when I ran into him. He was still kind of a creepy fuck, but I was no longer worried that he was a potentially dangerous creepy fuck and he was also a lot less creepy. Creepy fucks tend to have a long track record of not getting anywhere with women. So if you are polite and engage him only when he behaves like a vaguely decent human being, you may be the only woman in years to give him the time of day and not just throw your drink in his face. Handle it right and he will bend over backwards to continue pleasing you and keep some crumbs of your approval.

But I don't know if you will even have an opening because this has gone on so long and it sounds like everything he says is unacceptable. So I am not sure there is an opening there to selectively say "Good dog! Have a Scooby snack for that comment!" and "Bad dog! No attention for you today!"
posted by Michele in California at 4:09 PM on October 3, 2014

Another vote for taking his photo. You don't even have to do anything with it but he won't know that and the fear of how you might use it could be enough to get him to stop. If you're afraid of what he might do, wait until you're a comfortable distance away, then yell out, "Hey, asshole. Smile!" Take his photo and just keep walking. Guys like this make my blood boil, I'm really sorry you have to go through this.
posted by Jubey at 4:27 PM on October 3, 2014

I'm afraid I'm all for confrontation with assholes like this. They're bullies, of a sort. He's bullying you. And bullies don't like being stood up to. I'd walk right over to him and say something like "You know I don't appreciate this, right? I know you know it. You know I know you know it. So I'm going to ask you once, right here, politely, to stop hassling me. If you don't take that polite request on board, next step is I'm involving the police. Okay?"

These pricks like the fact that they make you uncomfortable and afraid. What they don't like is being totally called out on their bullshit.
posted by Decani at 4:56 PM on October 3, 2014

Based on your description, he's probably not reasonable--I say probably not because of the off-chance he has some sort of social disorder that might make him less aware of how wrong his behavior is. Nevertheless, the following is the course of action I believe would be most prudent to take if I were in your shoes. However, I am a male and I won't presume that I am able to sufficiently empathize with you. I understand that this could be very difficult for you, so it's only a suggestion for you to consider.

Have pepper spray / a tazer on your person just in case. Though there's a very low chance you would have to use it, I suppose the added feeling of security certainly couldn't hurt.

Next time you run into him and he makes such a comment, confront him calmly but firmly. Say something like, "Excuse me," making sure you get his attention, "when you make comments like this it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Please stop." If he persists, say "I've made this clear. Please don't speak to me any further." If he still persists, ignore him as best you can and leave.

Whatever you do, don't stoop to his level (e.g., offering a crude retort), and don't continue to engage him if he doesn't alter his behavior in a positive way. At that point, I would advocate strictly ignoring him.

If he is stubbornly unreasonable, I'm not sure what you can do without complicating the manner in a way that would cause you stress. Involving the police would likely be effective as a "brute force" approach, but if this man is deranged then it could only increase his determination. I wish some sort of system were in place in our society to reliably deal with these sorts of situations.
posted by halp at 4:58 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, if you try taking a picture of him, you can post it here.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 5:45 PM on October 3, 2014

Honestly, I would walk on the other side of the street, crossing at the block of your work/home and see if that deters him. Maybe ask your female co-workers if they ever are harassed by this man. If he goes out of his way to seek you out specifically, don't be afraid or stupid to ask the cops about it. It never hurts to know where the legal line is, and depending how prevalent crime is, a cop may be willing to check out the guy one day and see why he is out there on the street. Otherwise, just change your route if that will let you avoid him. He probably knows you dislike it, whether you walk on his side of the street or not.

Personally, acting like a crazy person doesn't really sound like it's in your personality, OP. I have been very rude before to get guys to leave me alone. A cab driver hit on me once, and it was just one ride so I let it go (I also thought he was just being nice until the end of the ride when he attempted to get my info), but then by chance (or by his design, he knew where I worked) I ended up getting the same cab driver again. He was hitting on me and being flirty and my one-word or non-answers weren't deterring him so I finally just said, "Can you leave me alone? I don't want to talk," in a very stern voice. That stopped things in its tracks. In this situation, you could just stop one day and say, "Can you leave me alone? I don't want to talk to you." I wouldn't scream or be hostile, just firm and direct.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:55 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing visible pepper spray.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:33 PM on October 3, 2014

It breaks my heart a little that you've already changed your entire demeanor and clothing because of this prick. I'm female and 5'3, so I understand feeling intimidated but please don't let this guy force you into submitting. My first instinct was to have a male friend walk with you and before you got close enough to say something, very obviously take a picture of him and point him out to your friend...the only problem is that he might feel this gives him the right to "retaliate" by taking photos of you or step it up the next time you're walking alone.

I have a massive case of resting bitch face and have honed my death-glare to perfection so YMMV but what I would do: a) carry mace or pepper spray if it's legal where you live and b) the next time he speaks to you, stop dead in your tracks and stare at him with the best bitch face you can muster. Stare at him until he's squirming or as long as you can bring yourself to, until he's every bit as uncomfortable as he's made you and don't say a word. Then calmly continue on your way.

I say this thinking largely about something I was taught in self-defense lectures during college - to always make eye contact with people so that they know that you can identify them if necessary and that you are aware of them and will not be taken by surprise. You're not escalating the situation, you're not provoking or attacking him, you're just looking at him like you can't believe he's as stupid and awful as he is.

Btw, harassment laws vary by state so you should check into yours, this may be enough for you to file a report, but even if it's not you can talk to them and start a paper trail - then document every occurrence, particularly anything that's remotely sexual in nature.
posted by kattyann at 7:35 PM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Never carry anything like pepper spray unless you know it's legal and you have practiced using it.
posted by canine epigram at 7:58 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am very sorry you're dealing with this. IT'S NOT YOU.

Stopping dead in your tracks and giving him the cold stare would be the only engagement I'd recommend.

The bus driver I see EVERY FRICKIN MORNING called me "sugar," "sunshine" and "beautiful" every time I got on and off the bus. AWKWARD. I was contemplating going to work on an earlier bus and then snapped "I'm your passenger, not your girlfriend. Stop calling me 'sweetheart.' Have a good day."

He stopped. Now he glares at me, but that's not my fucking problem.

Ignore this roach. Please don't slouch, shrink or change your wardrobe.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 8:29 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the responses. I'll try headphones and sunglasses, and if that doesn't work I'll change my route.
posted by windykites at 11:28 PM on October 3, 2014

Sorry this is happening. Horrible to have a noxious element like that right where you live. It sounds like he's really gotten to you :( I agree with not engaging (there will be a response, he's there every day) and think (from my own experience anyway) that avoiding him and changing your route would free you from him the quickest. Sadly.

(A thought, though -- I feel like there are varieties of catcallers, some more ignorable than others; older men from a time/place where 'that's how men are', dumb and exuberant ones who may be angling but don't actually expect a response -- those, it's easier to pass without blinking. It sounds like this one is getting to you because of his quietness and the seemingly focal intent of his comments; sounds like it feels like he's menacing in a really personal way. I wonder whether it might help you to take a step back and get a better sense of what kind of man and threat he might be. Is there a coffee shop nearby, from where you could maybe observe how he interacts with other women, for a bit? You obviously couldn't hear him but you'd get body language, some kind of information, that might help you reframe any time you (unfortunately) have to deal with him, if it turns out he's a pest to everyone, or take a different approach if it turns out he really is fixated on you. Sorry, again, this sucks.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:24 AM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

pause, turn back to him, and say "I'm not your princess, but you can call me windykites. What's your name?" Do not reward the creepy threatening guy with attention or engagement. That's a slippery slope to being stalked.

Others in this thread have made far better suggestions for keeping yourself safe and avoiding/fending off this guy.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:15 AM on October 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

Cotton dress sock's got it. If he was loudly catcalling, or even talking in a normal tone of voice, it wouldn't feel creepy, just obnoxious, and I would be able to deal with it. He seems to deliberately be trying to be privately sleazy and overly intimate with me, personally, in a really unsettling way, and he obviously knows that it's not ok or he wouldn't be secretive, but he refuses to accept my cues that it's unwelcome. That's why this is so slimy and gross.
posted by windykites at 10:52 AM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Of course he doesn't accept your cues that it is unwelcome - he doesn't actually care whether you find it unwelcome. He doesn't care how it makes you feel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Undermine his entitled self-confidence? "You have a pee stain on your pants" or "your haircut's making everyone laugh at you."

That's easy for me to say, as a dude who doesn't have to be as afraid of physical attacks, but that's probably his weak point if you want to retaliate.
posted by ctmf at 3:02 PM on October 4, 2014

You could ask a male friend or family member to walk with you one morning, approach the guy, and tell the guy to stop bothering you. If the guy keeps bothering you (but I bet he wouldn't), then your male friend should confront the guy about it the next morning. That's how you would handle this if you were a friend or family member of mine. It would work.
posted by Slap Factory at 3:59 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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