EXAMPLE CASE #1 – The Charmer Wannabe with the intention of Seeking Attention
Harasser: “Looking good honey!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Oh, ya? I’ll fuck you bitch!!”
There are many profiles of street harassers. There are many types of street harassment behaviors. This writing will address dealing with harassment from Harassers whose intention is to either Seek Attention, Provoke a Reaction, or to create Fear & Intimidation. Rather than having an intention of a Visual Fantasy, Self-Pleasure, or Predatory Testing.
The goal of disrupting an incident of street harassment is to provide a response that has the direct effect of the following:
a. Providing the Target a means to assert her displeasure with the behavior.
b. Provide the Harasser a response that deters future harassment behavior.
c. Provide Bystanders with actionable information in order for them to support the Target.
d. Provide society with one example of how to effectively deal with street harassment.
Referring to the incident above, the Harasser is most likely a Charmer Wannabe. The intention of the comment is to Seek Attention from the Target. He feels that his only means of exerting Power & Control to make the Target recognize his presence is by making forced sexual comments to her.
The Target on the other hand most likely has been victimized by these types of comment over a long period of time. She is fed up. She considers the comment to be disrespectful and an insult. Therefore, she reacts to the “insult” with angry profanity. This reaction satisfies (a) above. She has voiced her displeasure. But it is possible that this satisfaction is only momentary as the Target reviews her reaction.
Referring to (b), the Harasser now feels that he has been unjustly insulted. He had “offered a compliment” and received an insult. Therefore, his reaction is also anger. He now escalates the harassment with the intention of now making the Target feel Fear & Intimidation. The response has not deterred his behavior. The Harasser has only changed his method of harassment.
In regard to (c), Bystanders who observe this interaction see mainly an angry confrontation with no clear aggressor or victim. Therefore, the most likely response will be to not get involved.
In regard to (d), the simple fact that this incident has escalated towards violence is proof that it is not an example for Society to follow.
A response that satisfies (a), (b), (c), (d) is a verbally assertive response combined with strong body language that conveys to the Harasser in no uncertain terms that his behavior is:
(a) Unappreciated and disrespectful to the Target
(b) To women in general
(c) To others who are forced to see and hear it.
The response does not need to be a lecture. It can be simple and quick, something along the lines of:
(a) “Don’t say that. Women do not like it”.
(b) “Learn to be polite. Next time just say hello”.
(c) “Stop harassing women.”
(d) Any phrase that comes across as assertive and not angry, but still conveys how you feel about the comment.
Based upon the initial comment, it is reasonable to assess that the Harasser’s intention is Seeking Attention. Most likely, he is a Charmer Wannabe or a Peacocking Showoff. Despite the ineffectiveness or illogic of his method he is hoping for some type of “ego boosting” response from the Target.
Therefore in his mind, the angry reaction from the Target is more than just a rejection, it is an uncalled for insult. He reacts with his own anger. His intention is now to create Fear & Intimidation in order to teach the Target a Lesson. The Target on the other hand has reacted in exactly the same manner. Her reaction was also designed to teach the Harasser a lesson. These two diametrically opposed viewpoints now collide and escalate the situation.
An assertive response is not an insult, nor is it designed to teach a lesson. It is a statement of fact and perception. When used properly, it de-escalates situations. It clearly conveys your message and feelings. If the Harasser’s denies his behavior or attempts to defend it as being a compliment “Aw, can’t you take a compliment?”, you need to recognize that the Power & Control dynamic has just flipped to your favor. Terminate the encounter with a statement such as “It is disrespectful behavior.” and leave.
Every situation of street harassment contains a different Power & Control dynamic. There is no one response that works every time. But invoking anger means losing control. It is very hard to gain control over a situation when you are simultaneously are losing control too.
EXAMPLE CASE #2 – The Crude Oaf with the intention of Provoke Reaction
Harasser: “Nice tits!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Your ass looks pretty good too!!”
In the example above, it is most likely that the Harasser is a Crude Oaf with the intention of Provoking Reaction. The Crude Oaf knows that there is no chance of him getting a positive response from you. Therefore, he makes his presence known with an undeniable offensive remark. If you ignore him, he has proven his dominance. If you react with anger, then he knows his that tactic works. Therefore he gives you another offensive remark.
The Crude Oaf is a tough nut to crack. But the undeniably offensive nature of his comments will also alienate him from Bystanders. Since he wants either an angry or intimidated reaction from you, he should get a cold, cool, calculated response. One that states that is behavior is weak and pathetic and therefore by extension so is he. You are effectively denying his ability to have Power & Control over you.
(a) “Your behavior is pathetic.”
(b) “Stop harassing women and go home!”
As before, use any phrase that comes across as assertive and not angry, but still conveys how you feel about the comment. Unlike the Charmer Wannabe or the Peacocking Showoff, the Crude Oaf can’t deny his intention or pretend it was a compliment. Therefore, he may be shocked into silence, or he may morph into an Overgrown Bully. In either case, you need to firmly exit the situation. Do not continue to engage against the Overgrown Bully.
EXAMPLE CASE #3 – The Overgrown Bully with the intention of Fear & Intimidation
Harasser: “Nice tits, bitch!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Oh, ya. I’ll fuck you, bitch! Now!!”
The Overgrown Bully makes his intention clear with his comment. He wants to threaten and intimidate you. An angry reaction just gives him more incentive to raise the stakes. As with the Crude Oaf, your reaction of anger or intimidation is a confirmation of his power. The Overgrown Bully is actually threatening you. Therefore, your response needs to deter the onset of further aggression. Your response needs to be calculated to end the threat and make Bystanders aware of your situation.
(a) “Stay away!”
(b) “Back off!!”
These statements must be combined with powerful body language. You must use physical assertiveness to convey a “do not mess with me attitude!”
Your goal should be to end the encounter and to exit the situation. This is not the time to express your anger or indignation. Exit, and go to the police. Tell them you were threatened on the street.
Fortunately, encountering the Overgrown Bully at the outset is much rarer than the other types of harassers. It is important to realize that all harasser’s have the potential to morph into the Overgrown Bully or worse. Therefore, regardless of your right to be angry, your goal is to avoid reacting with anger.
When it comes to confrontations, anger is the accelerator, assertiveness is the brake.