Public Masturbator in Dupont Circle

posted in: Dupont Circle | 14

I was feeling rather down over a breakup, so I went to sit by the fountain at Dupont Circle and just relax a bit. As I walked down Connecticut Ave. and approached the outside of the circle, people leaving the circle and walking toward Connecticut Ave. passed all around me heading in the opposite direction. Within that large cloud of people, however, my intuition picked up on one individual in particular. A man in his early 30’s or so. He didn’t look particularly dangerous or different from the other people, but my intuition flickered when I saw him notice me, and I immediately thought to myself: PREDATOR. When you’ve experienced as much harassment as I have, you get to a point where you’ve developed a 6th sense about these things.

As he passed by me, I heard him mutter something under his breath in reaction to the sight of me, but I just kept walking. –With the firm knowledge that, despite the direction he was walking in (away from the fountain I was headed toward), I’d see him again in about 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes. And sure enough, 5 minutes later, as I was sitting peacefully at the fountain with my feet in the water, I saw him out of the corner of my eye casually walking around the circle “innocently” looking for a free place to sit. What a shock when that free place just randomly happened to be right next to me!

I was on the phone with my mother, and really not in the mood for some creep to try to talk to me, so I just sat there ignoring the fact that he was facing me and looking at my legs in my sundress. I did, however, immediately take my pepper spray out of my bag and hold it firmly in my hand.

After a few moments of wondering why he wasn’t trying to talk to me, it occurred to me: Of course. He wasn’t there to talk to me: He was there to jerk off to me. I didn’t even have to look at him to know that he was rubbing the growing erection in his pants as he stared at me. But I did eventually look, and of course, I was right. I told my mom I had to get off the phone, propped my finger on the pepper spray switch, and then turned to the woman next to me and told her I was about to call the police because the man next to me was masturbating, and asked her to please be a witness (because the last time this happened, the police couldn’t arrest the man since I was the only witness).

Startled and repulsed, she glanced in his direction, which caused him to realize he was about to be exposed. In true, predator-coward fashion, he immediately stood up to slink away. But this time, something came over me, and I wasn’t having it. I immediately pulled my feet out of the fountain, dialed 911, and stood up right next to him. Nervous but not wanting to draw attention to himself, he began to walk away. And I began to walk right behind him, speaking very loudly to the 911 operator, telling her that a man in Dupont Circle was sitting next to me and masturbating. He of course picked up his pace, and I did the same, raising my voice so that everyone in the circle could hear me telling the police what was happening. At this point, realizing I was on the phone with the police and that people were staring at the furious barefoot girl following am man through the circle screaming on the phone, I he began to trott away.

And I swear to god, something just snapped inside of me. I started screaming at him, “You can’t run away, sir! You can’t just sit in a park and jerk off publicly to the site of a woman and then run away when the cops are called!” ……….which caused him to BOLT down New Hampshire Ave. and disappear around a corner.

All the while, the utterly disinterested dispatcher on the phone commanded me in an irritated tone to not yell at the man. I told her he was running away, and she said she would send someone out.

No cop ever came. The dispatcher didn’t even take my name for the report. –Neither of these things surprised me, but they still infuriated me.

–As did this incident. After nearly 5 years of being verbally, physically, and passively (i.e. public masturbation) harassed in DC, I AM ANGRY. Something has come over me, and I officially want to fight back. Up until this incident, I’ve always been too possessed by sheer shock when these things happen to actually do anything. But this time, probably because I’m so used to it by now that shock is secondary to rage and disgust, I was collected and poised and utterly determined to nail this motherf*cker.

As he ran away, rather than feeling possessed by the horror that usually grips me when a man masturbates to me in public, I felt furious with myself: I was ready this time. I had my pepper spray right there. And I didn’t spray him!!!

I understand why. I understand that it’s because it is not in my nature to aggress upon someone when they have not aggressed upon me first. It is my nature to defend myself, but not to aggress, as it is with most sane people, especially women. And though a man jerking off to me is most certainly a form of aggressing upon me, it is a passive form. And passive aggression does not ignite the same impulse to defend oneself with aggression.

Nonetheless, I still feel furious at myself for not immediately pulling out my pepper spray, aiming it straight at his face (and then possibly his crocth), and macing the hell out of him. Right or not, safe or not, I’m intend to be ready to react this way next time.

And lord knows there will be a next time. There always is.

***The absolute weirdest part of all? Last year, exactly one year ago to that week (in June, 2010), I was feeling down about a breakup, and went to Dupont Circle to relax and reflect. I was on the phone with my mother, wearing the exact same dress I was wearing this time, when a man decided to walk up and begin jerking off to the sight of me. –I don’t know if it was my vulnerable state/vibe, the short sundress, or just the universe telling me it’s time to leave town, but seriously, people, this is just too weird and creepy of a coincidence!***

Submitted by b

Location: Dupont Circle

Time of harassment:Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)

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.

14 Responses

  1. Josef
    | Reply

    I admire your level-headedness in dealing with this horrific encounter, especially when alerting the woman next to you that you needed a witness.

    Of course, I am outraged by the police response (or rather, the lack of it), and hope there is some kind of recourse you can pursue in terms of a complaint.

    Kudos for the holla back, though!!

  2. Omega
    | Reply

    If only this site was around when I was younger — I thought I was the exception as far as how often I’d get harassed by idiots. I’m so sorry this happened to you. No one should have to experience crap like this. Ever!

  3. DC_Union_Thug
    | Reply

    Adding one thing. Please get in touch w/ the DC Office of Unified Communications (http://ouc.dc.gov/ouc/site/default.asp) They handle 911 and 311 calls for Fire, Police etc. (I’d also cc the 3rd District Police Commander) Let them know your encounter w/ the 911 operator. It’s not acceptable that our DC public employees behave in this manner. A cop should have dispatched and she should have taken a report.

    I’m not trying to give you a hard time at all here, but if we all don’t demand better accountability from DC Gov by complaining and engaging, it’s never going to get better.
    Anyway, ending my soapbox rant. Glad you’re safe and I’m sorry this happened to you.

  4. cathy
    | Reply

    good for you, b, that’s all i have to say! if more of us were angry and yelled and made a scene, it would start to make a difference!

  5. Alcaran
    | Reply

    Americants are sick perverts and ignorant to boot. More money is spent on pornography in the us than on books. Of course all the dumb yuppie sluts running around in their whore outifits are encouraging the low-iq deviants , who are plentiful like grains on the beach, to act like the loons that they are.

    • hollabackdc
      | Reply

      We were with you until you started victim-blaming and making disparaging comments. Also, since you are a gov’t employee of Fairfax County (from your IP address), we’re not sure if you would be one of the individuals that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking would be talking to, which is chilling. But, thanks for writing this comment using Fairfax County/VA residents tax dollars. We’re sure you are making VA proud.

  6. Nigerian Sista
    | Reply

    Wow, I think you did a great job. I believe that almost very woman who has been harassed to breaking point can have that kind of reaction. You get to the point where wnough is enough and you want to be able to go about anywhere you want in public ALONE without guys trying all of this mess with you. I’ve been there several times. I unfortunately got in one situation in a grocery store where I was harassed my someone (who I later discovered was an off duty cop out of his own jurisdiction) this person harassed me in a store for no reason and pulled a gun on me and my brother when my brother stood up for me and told him to leave me alone! My brother was only 16 at the time smh.

  7. Alcaran
    | Reply

    Lol. Since I see the three stooges are in full effect on here, let me enlighten you to a few things.

    1. I’m not a government employee, I was posting from a computer at a Fairfax public library.

    2. Unless you have very poor reading comprehension I was not talking about the “men” in this story or in any of the other stories on here in a positive light. Ignorant/crass behavior is something very american but something I don’t aspire to.

    3. I wasn’t victim blaming, just pointing out that in the us people, both men and women, are generally less cultured/more ignorant (no matter how many countries they’ve traveled to/done humanitarian work in to pad their resumes) than in other developed areas, like in europe where this harassment behavior is bascially non-existent.

  8. indianpicture
    | Reply

    Alcaran,

    I’m not sure where you got the idea that in Europe “street harassment behavior is basically non-existent”. I lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years, and traveled around Western Europe extensively; random men in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal would routinely try to grab my hand, call me beautiful, ask me to dinner and leer at me in the most disgusting way. If I had a pound for every time someone in London yelled out “nice arse/ tits” etc, I would be able to afford my own Royal Wedding. I found none of this flattering just like most women who experience street harassment.

    My guess is you aren’t as knowledgeable about “European culture” (generalize much?) as you think you are, and certainly do not understand that demeaning women and harassment that reduces women to sexual objects exists in all cultures and countries.

  9. B.
    | Reply

    Thanks to all for your comments. I’m just now getting to read them. After this incident, I felt nothing but frustration with myself for not having pepper sprayed the man the moment I noticed what he was doing. After reading everyone’s responses, however, I realize that, while I didn’t spray him, I did act in a very proactive way, and I was much more empowered than I have been previous times.

    As far as Alcaran’s comments go, they are far too ignorant to even really waste time reacting to, so I’ll refrain from doing so very much.

    However I would encourage him/her to check out http://www.stopstreetharassment.com for stories about street harassment taking place all over the world, several of which are reported from European countries. Harassment is a GLOBAL problem and a HUMAN rights issue, not simply an American situation.

    And for the record, Alcaran, when you make statements like: “Of course all the dumb yuppie sluts running around in their whore outifits are encouraging the low-iq deviants, who are plentiful like grains on the beach, to act like the loons that they are,” yes, you ARE victim blaming. You don’t know anything about the people who are posting on this site. But even if the posters are in fact “yuppie sluts running around in their whore outfits,” that doesn’t mean that they deserve to have strange men jerk off to them in public, or harass/assault them in any other way. In addition to educating yourself on global, particularly European street harassment statistics, you might want to look up the definition of “victim blaming” as well.

    I am neither a “yuppie slut” nor do I wear “whore outfits.” But even if I were or did, it would not make this man’s behavior acceptable, nor would it be my fault or mean that I deserved it.

    Thanks again to everyone for the positive comments– This has been very helpful.

Leave a Reply