Street Harassment. While Driving.

I wish I was making this up, but this actually happens to me quite a bit on my route to and from work.

I don’t drive on the highway because the tolls around Chicago are really expensive, and there is no way to get from my apartment to my job without going way out of my way on the highway.  So I take the state route that leads directly from my apartment to my job.  It takes the same amount of time, is much more direct, and is complete with several stoplights.  There are days that I am stuck in traffic, stopping at every single light and unable to pass cars or move anywhere.

Many times, as I’m sitting at these stoplights, I hear a horn honking, and I look around as anyone is likely to do when they hear a horn honking, and when I look next to me, there is a man driving a car making lewd gestures in my direction.  Usually, this doesn’t become a problem because I can either speed up or slow down once the light turns green.  Or the guy making those motions has to be all macho and speed off just as the light changes.  The other day, however, this wasn’t the case.

I was driving along, listening to some Justin Timberlake (hey, don’t judge!), when I hear a honking horn.  I’m in the left lane with cars just in front and just behind me.  The car honking is right next to me in the right lane.  And we’re driving.  That’s right, two men in this moving vehicle are honking at me and making lewd gestures and asking me to pull over.  They’re driving alongside of me, knowing I can’t speed up or slow down because of the cars in front and behind me, and they’re blocking me from moving into the right lane and passing or moving behind them.  And harassing me.

Not only was this extremely dangerous, but it was scary and disconcerting to say the least.  Luckily, ignoring them did the trick and they eventually switched into a turn lane and turned out of sight.  But it definitely shook me up.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do in that situation, and I still don’t know what to do if it ever happens again.  I mean, what if I got into a car accident and was stuck with these guys dealing with insurance and stuff?  I could play a million what ifs; the bottom line is that it was creepy and upsetting.

Have you ever had an experience like this?  If so, what did you do?  How did you handle it?

8 thoughts on “Street Harassment. While Driving.

  1. My friend and I had a similar problem while driving home from the city. Fortunately, we were not in traffic and were on the expressway, so we were able to slow down and avoid them. We also removed our GPS from the dashboard because we were nervous. I’m not sure what I would have done in your situation!

  2. I’m so sorry that happened to you- I have experienced similar harassment while driving. It really is scary sometimes.

    I have been astonished by the level of street harassment in Chicago over the last couple of years. I don’t know if it’s universally worse, or really dependent on your neighborhood, but I can count on being harassed at least 50%-60% of the time I leave the house if I am not accompanied by a man. And that doesn’t count the innocuous stuff. It’s intimidating.

    Do you know about YWAT in Rogers Park? The Young Women’s Action Team is a group of high school girls that organized to stop street harassment in Rogers Park. Pretty great.

  3. Things like that have happened to me as well. As far as being boxed in just try to safely get out of it and then as soon as you are call the police- non emergency or not is your call- explain that two men were harassing you and recklessly driving-etc, try to get a plate number if you can’t description of car and maybe description of man. Unfortunately, we’re not in a comic book and we can’t pull over and kick the stupid out of these so-called-men. Sorry that you have to go through it at all.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: October 24, 2010 « Stop Street Harassment!

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  6. peggy connolly on

    My husband & I had this happen the other night 3 cars driving together would not let us pass they were going 23 in a 30 zone playing there game .My husband called 911 and stayed on the phone with dispatcher until a unit came we tried to get in the other lane and they cut right in front of us almost causing an accident .and once again slowed down to 23 .Once agin not allowing us to get byWhen thepolice got there they did nothing.Either they knew the guy or did not want to be bothered too bad people can do that , He should have had a reckless driving ticket , We would have even signed a complaint but we were not given that option

  7. Wehaveseenthisb4 on

    This is why we have cell phone cameras. Use them openly and get the plate if possible. Install a removable GoPro camera in the car.

  8. TClarkiaI on

    This happens to me on nearly a weekly basis. Men and women of all walks of life will get in front of me and slow down to 40 on the freeway when I was going 65-70. People will cut me off and slow down. People will come up behind me and honk. They will drive next to me and honk. I don’t look at them because if I ever do they are usually flipping me off or screaming at me. I am a good driver with a perfect driving record, I don’t ride close to the car in front of me (which I actually think people hate), and I drive safely. I let people in and don’t run them off the road. They do try to run me off the road though. People will honk at me if I wait for pedestrians to cross the street when they have the walk signal. People act like I’m princess Diana or something. It’s very odd and it’s led me to become convinced I am far more beautiful then I probably actually am, because I see no reason otherwise to act this way toward me other than jealousy since I am a safe and polite driver. Except when you bully me on the road, I will honk and flip you off back.

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