Today, a 20 to 30-something white 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.
Location: 14th and T Streets NW in Washington DC