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Porch heckling [pohrch hek-uhl-ing], verb: when a person or group of people yell(s) at a passerby from a porch in the hopes of making the passerby feel unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable, usually at night; a form of street harassment.
Have you ever been there? If you’re a lady, I bet you have. You’re walking down the street, maybe even your own street, when some dudes yell at you from their porch. No matter what they yell, you suddenly feel unsafe, or in the very least uncomfortable. You don’t yell back because you don’t have the safety of your home or friends nearby. You just pick up the pace and pretend it didn’t happen. But it did happen. In fact, it happens all the time. At least it does to me.
Summer is the time for porch beers, and I’m all for that. It only becomes a problem when some frat bro or bored thirty-something (not trying to generalize, that’s just who it always happens to be) has one porch beer too many and thinks it’s okay to yell shit at me when I’m walking home. Since it’s been warm enough to sit on porches, this has happened to me every other night. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll change my route if I spot a porch full of people ahead.
Sometimes the things yelled at me aren’t even inherently offensive, i.e., that one porch dude who scream-asked my friend and I if we wanted to go to a Backstreet Boys concert with him. The point, though, is that it doesn’t matter what the heckler shouts; a heckler by any other name is a heckler. Screaming at someone from your own porch is the same idea as screaming at someone from your car: you are safe and in power, while the passerby is not.
At the end of the day, porch heckling is a form of street harassment. (This includes balconies, which are worse because you can’t even see who’s yelling at you.) If you’re guilty of this, I’m asking you to stop. It makes people, namely girls and women and those of us in between, regret walking anywhere at night. This is very sad for me because I love walking. So, please, drink those porch beers and stay up til the sun’s up. But for the love of everything, stop asking me if I want to watch you make out with your friend. I promise you that I will never want that. I’m just trying to get home, buddy.
Have you taken our three-minute survey on the state of Boston’s streets? Please do, and share it with your networks – the more we know, the better we can serve our city!
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