Yuppie Harasser – Power Play

Cross posted from Stop Street Harassment Blog:

Today, a 20 to 30-something male in a business suit harassed me near the corner of 14th and T Streets NW in Washington DC at about 9 A.M. He was clearly going to work and was in a hurry. The man decided to cut the corner and walk in front of me and my dog. At the same time, my dog saw a bird behind the man and walked towards the man. I stopped my dog, but my dog’s first reaction to walk towards the man caused the man to have to pause. Apparently stopping was too much of an inconvenience for the man. He glared at me and came closer to me. I apologized for my dog and told him I was working on the dog’s behavior around birds. Then, the man kept walking the other way, towards his destination, and after he was about 10 steps away, he yelled back at me at the top of his lungs, “There’s something else you can do. Control your dog!”

First I felt humiliated but then I felt angry, helpless, and disgusted. There was nothing I could do to tell him that his behavior was inappropriate and infuriating. I also became very aware of the power differential between us. He’s a male and I’m a female. He was wearing a business suit (a sign of his higher class status) and I was wearing workout clothes which did not necessarily reveal anything about my class status. I thought for a split second that if I were a male in a business suit I would have followed after him and told him that he was a coward for yelling at me while he walked away. I was shaky and unsteady on the inside. Then, I tried to focus on my dog. My dog had sat down politely and was waiting for my next cue. I thought about how I wanted to enjoy the nice morning and spring air with my dog and didn’t want the harasser to ruin my morning. I took some deep breaths, tried to acknowledge my anger and move on. I suppose I partially succeeded for the r est of my walk, but I am still feel angry enough that I immediately came home and looked for this website to share my story.

Submitted by E on 4/12/2010

Location: 14th and T NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.


One Response

  1. Laura

    Sorry, but where is the problem beside your own angry feelings? Given the story, it is actually hard to believe the guy did yell at you (and it wasn’t you magnifying his speech level through your angry perception). Anyhow, assuming he indeed did yell, then that was wrong. His statement, however, is hardly so: you could control your dog, indeed.

    The problem here is what goes on in your own mind. Everything beyond the statement happened in your own mind, including the nonsense of power differential, male vs. female, suit vs. workout clothes and really doesn’t add anything to the guy’s behavior but just tells about your own insecurity.

    Hope you have a good day nonetheless.