Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

From a reader who would like you to look at this discreetly, thanks: “Like almost all city-dwelling women from age 20 to 60, I experience my fair share of street harassment when walking in the city. (Although, one friend said she would never walk with me again due to the number of homeless men who tried to strike up a conversation one Saturday afternoon--and it’s not like I dress provocatively.) It ranges in severity and scare factor from construction workers across the street greeting me on the way to work to someone following me on a dark street on New Year’s. It’s constant, and it makes me feel unsafe.

My friends seem to be able to brush it off. I try to ignore it, but sometimes I snap and yell in response. Needless to say, this incites more harassment. How do I respond in a way that sets a boundary but doesn’t leave me feeling like a screaming banshee?”

So, cat-callers, call-ees and bystanders, what are the most effective responses you’ve witnessed?

- Carolyn Hax

 
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