Because *apparently* punching someone in the face is illegal, the way I deal with street harassment from the what-I -call #SexistWhiteVanMan, is to note down the name of the company and email the managing director.
This doesn’t have the instant excitement of administering a sharp biff in the face (I haven’t done this, btw, but I have been tempted and I imagine – if fist is correctly arranged- it feels good). Nor does it give you the feeling of general satisfaction and superiority you get from calmly responding with some sort of intelligent, witty, and thought provoking remark. But complaining in writing can be effective. And it feels good too, in its own way.
Today I was leered at by a not so charming window cleaner. He was leaning out of his van window at the pedestrian crossing I was waiting at on Trafalgar Square. He was too close to my face and I felt unnerved. Happily for me, the van was plastered in the company’s logo and contact details. Silly man.
Here is the email I sent to the MD of the window cleaning company:
Dear Mr. Tanner,
As managing director of Crown Support Services I wish to make a complaint to you about one of your employees. I assume he was an employee of yours because he was in the passenger seat of a van branded with your company logo and information.
Today at about 9:30 I was waiting at a pedestrian crossing near Trafalgar Square in central London. (Presumably) a Crown Support Services employee was leaning out of the passenger window of one of your vans and leering at women (myself included) who were going about their business. I found this intimidating and unpleasant. I do not expect to be harassed in this manner on my way to work in central London. This reflects badly on your company.
I would like to know what your company policy on sexual harassment is, and what steps you, as managing director, are taking to ensure that your employees know that harassing women is unacceptable to you.
I look forward to your response.
I was pleased to receive this short-but-generally-satisfactory response, just minutes later:
Dear Ms Woodfield,Thank you for you email – I do appreciate you writing to me as I would not like to think any of our employees behaved in this way.
I will investigate your complaint further and discuss this with the operative concerned, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
I don’t know what will become of the Crown Support Services Sexist White Van Man. But if he does indeed receive disciplinary action, I hope he will think twice before harassing women from his van again.