“I just wanted to say I’m sorry, I’m peeing”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Victoria Pickering

“Dear PoPville,

After work I was walking home from the Metro in Shaw yesterday talking on my phone when a man was standing behind a car. He waved one hand and started talking at me so being the polite person I am, I took out my headphone’s and asked him to repeat what he said. He then responded with “I just wanted to say I’m sorry, I’m peeing” and then pointed his genitalia at me. This is an extremely open area surrounded by various public establishments with working facilities, so there is absolutely no way that this was accidental.

I’m a young female in my early 20’s, so I’m not quite sure what to do when a situation like this occurs. Even though I’ve lived in the District for nearly a decade, This is the second time in two weeks that I’ve encountered men who have deliberately put me in very uncomfortable situations, to put it mildly, and I worry about the frequency with which it now seems to happen. Do I call the police?

(This occurred at 9/27/2016 at 5:50pm on 8th Street NW between P St. and O St.)

Thanks for the input!!”

107 Comment

  • You probably should call the police, but he’ll be done quicker than you can get a response from 911. Cops are already targeting this area.

    • A lot of the reason that self-defense classes are so empowering is because they train you to think in advance what you will do in different scenarios. I would start practising saying things like this to yourself, in a loud and intimidating voice in the mirror while holding your palm up in front of you:

      “Knock it off”
      “Back off”
      “Don’t come any closer!”

      Get used to saying those any time you don’t like someone’s behavior. They are non-judgemental and they clearly express what you want to happen. They also show that you are not easy prey.

  • Seriously… you don’t know what to do? Call the police.

  • At least he apologized. What a thoughtful gentleman.

  • pcat

    Ignore him and walk on.

  • And perhaps not walk with headphones plugged in?

    • How does that resolve this particular situation, or OP’s question?

    • Oh come on, how would that have changed anything? I don’t advocate headphones (I never wear them), but it certainly wouldn’t have prevented this situation.

    • skj84

      I mean if she wasn’t walking around without headphones on and he pulled this stunt would you be so quick to victim blame? The OP is in no way at fault. The gross a-hole who flashed her is fully responsible. Harassment is harassment.

    • Her use of earphones doesn’t have f*ck-all to do with what happened to her. At best, she should have NOT taken them out. I basically do not respond to any a male stranger’s attempt to speak to me. A woman – yes. But not a man. When I have let down my guard it has led to being asked 1) for my phone number; 2) to take me to dinner; 3) for a cigarette (when I used to smoke); 4) for money; 5) for something weird and indecipherable. This is not occasionally. It’s been 99% of the time. So now too bad for the nice man who just wants to ask for directions.

      • This.

        I wear headphones 99% of the time when I’m in a public place because owning a female body in public in this city means I get constant unwanted attention from men. I can’t even make EYE CONTACT with men without them feeling entitled to start asking me for my name, my phone number, where I live, etc. Two nights ago a man came up to my car as I was parking it and started trying to get my attention through the passenger window (that was closed). When I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in speaking with him, he became aggressive. I had to wait in my locked car until he gave up and left. Let me be clear: this man was not lost or in need of help. He was demanding MY time and attention because I had the audacity to be an unescorted female in public.

        Am I testy and sensitive when it comes to interactions with strangers who are men in this city? Yes. Is that testiness a product of my everyday reality? Yes.

        • I get the overly aggressive scenario that you described above but might I ask how should a man approach a woman on the street that he is attracted to or is that just taboo all around these days. Does it have to be in a more natural setting ei.. grocery store, starbucks line, etc as opposed to a casual walk by?

          • If she has on headphones, I’d take that as a strong signal that she is not interested in being talked to, regardless of how attractive or charming you think you are. If you must, try to make eye contact, smile, then move on. Also….just because a woman is out in public doesn’t mean she wants a man who is attracted to her to talk to her, particularly if there is no other context other than walking by each other. As a woman, I personally have never found that approach (hitting on me out of no where while I’m walking down the street or whatever) to be anything other than creepy and unsettling.
            Well except once I did give my number to a guy I met on the street, but 1) I didn’t have on headphones and 2) he tripped so I laughed at him (I’m a jerk irl and on popville!) and then we had a conversation. I don’t think he had planned on talking to me whatsoever but him falling created an opportunity I guess, so I don’t think it’s really the same situation. I don’t think I would have given him my number if he just started talking to me out of the blue. But his good humor about his tumble was endearing. Also he legit fell; it wasn’t a fake to get my attention (or if it was he’s helluva actor)

          • The headphones thing is obvious.

            Outside of that, basically there has to be some sort of context and not a cold call so to speak.. Interesting…

          • Don’t! Approach! Women!
            Women! Are! Not! Objects! To! Be! Picked! Up!

          • @ Anon.

            Meet, approach, engage… its all semantics. Else how would heterosexual people meet one another? Dating apps?

          • I’m an old, but back in the day, I was creeped out regularly by guys approaching me on the street. That said, it’s how I met my lovely husband, so…

          • “how should a man approach a woman on the street that he is attracted to” — Stacksp, people don’t usually meet each other via what you subsequently called a “cold call” on a street.

          • @ ChillyDC & @textdoc

            I see times have changed and now this is considered “street harassment” by many

          • This has been covered pretty well but in response to stacksp: don’t approach women on the street just because you find them attractive. Don’t do it. It’s stupid and disrespectful and shallow, not to mention self-centered and vain.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Regarding stacksp’s original question, I’m not sure, but probably not “with d*ck in hand, urine flowing.”

    • palisades

      Thank you Apple! We no longer have to worry about headqphones being plugged in.

    • If anything, the problem was that she took the headphones out. But as others have noted, any suggestion that this is her fault is obviously BS.

  • I think I see someone peeing at least once a day between walking to and from work or on breaks or runs to Chinatown or Union Station. I just make sure to turn my head

  • I once saw a lady peeing in public and she had her kid on look out. Gross – yes, worth calling the cops and ruining someones life – no. Who hasn’t pee’d in public tho?

  • I’m determined to laugh out loud the next time a stranger shows me his dick. That’s the opposite reaction than he’s looking for, right?

    (Just kidding. I’ll probably still be shocked and horrified and will avoid provoking a sexual predator. A girl can dream, though.)

  • I hope this doesn’t sound extreme, but have you thought about taking a self-defense course? I took a training on self-defense and street harassment years ago with Marty Langelan, and it was so empowering! It taught me to trust my instincts, stand up for myself when faced with harassment, and keep myself safe. She has a book as well. “The Gift of Fear” is also a good place to start in learning to trust your spidey sense.

  • Should have taken a dump right there, dropped the mic and walked away. One-upped, sir. Good day.

  • After many sporting events or concerts I see people outdoors peeing.
    Where do you think homeless people pee?
    DC doesn’t have public restrooms readily available. It’s a pretty natural and regular bodily requirement. People don’t (usually) freak out when a mother nurses her child, breasts exposed. I don’t see how this is any different. Over-sexualized body parts that are more often used for a biological need.

  • i suspect he was initially trying to warn, that was nice

    • If he was just trying to warn her so he could enjoy some privacy he wouldn’t have POINTED HIS GENITALIA at her, he would have done that crouch thing to try to shield his privates from view.

  • Did he start peeing when he saw you coming? It sounds like he was trying to waive you away, not deliberately putting on a “show” for you, but since you couldn’t hear, it just brought more attention to the situation. I’ve definitely seen quite a few people peeing in public, including one guy at Union Station standing smack in the median between where cars drive up to the cab-stand and where they go into the garage just pointing his thang up in the air and letting it flow. If he was just doing his business, I wouldn’t feel threatened by it, just awkward, and probably annoyed that he was doing it in a public space. It’s not like he pulled over to ask for directions and had his pants down and wagged his ding dong at you…cuz yeah, that happened.

    • I think that he may have gestured because she initially had headphones on and missed his initial verbal warning that hey, sorry I am peeing. Might want to look away.

      • I would potentially understand this argument if he hadn’t pointed his junk directly at her. If he didn’t actively want her to see then he would have tried to shield himself.
        OMG why is this so difficult to understand? He actively and deliberately drew her attention to his exposed penis…there is no excusing that behavior as anything but harassment. It’s not the peeing, or even the talking to her that is the issue…it was that instead of trying to keep up the ploy of wanting privacy for a private moment (in a public space) he exposed his privates to her.

        • +1 again. I mean, the guy clearly had a strategy — and frankly, it worked: “Maybe if I act like I didn’t *want* her to see it even though I did, she won’t know what to do and won’t feel like she can say anything.”

      • That’s how I read it — that he was letting her know that he was peeing, as she was approaching him

  • “This occurred at 9/27/2016 at 5:50pm on 8th Street NW between P St. and O St.” P Street. P STREET. Seems reasonable.

  • Should have mentioned his “tiny hands”.

  • He’s a pervert looking for a reaction (good or bad). The best way to handle it is to act completely unaffected by it and walk away. Once you’re away, call the cops and report it. You might think that laughing at him or screaming admonishment at him will be effective but he probably gets off on it. Perverts are perverted. Also, it’s illegal and should absolutely be reported because the behavior could probably lead to worse, more aggressive behavior eventually. I just don’t understand why people are so offended by seeing a penis–yeah it’s shocking/gross but it’s not traumatic.

    • I was with you until the last sentence. Someone trying to shock/intimidate you like that IS traumatic. It’s not the sight; it’s the context.

      • I agree with this. Especially for people who have had to deal with situations like these more than a few times (aka, many women).

      • Agree, it’s not like accidentally walking in on someone in a locker room and seeing a penis. It’s a stranger on the street waving his penis at you in a threatening way (while he’s peeing!). You don’t know what that person is capable of, and since he’s already shown a desire to intimidate you with his penis, it’s probably not going to go anywhere good. Women encounter intimidation and threats like this on the street every day, it’s not just “oh well, I saw a penis, tee hee!”

  • Take a picture. Call the cops. And start yelling. Loudly.

  • Awe, the newest wave of gentrifiers, so eager to call the police. Us old-timers would have just waved and said “ok.”

  • Is the location correct? 8th St between O and P Sts doesn’t have street parking – it’s the entrance to Giant and the parking garage for City Market. If it is correct and this happens again there is a security guard posted directly inside the entrance to Giant. You could notify them and give a description of the guy.

    • Thats what I was thinking–the block in front of giant has no parking and almost always a security guard by the door. Maybe its the block between N and O street? There’s that housing development there and people on the street all the time. I often cross the street if there’s someone shifty looking on the sidewalk ahead of me.

  • Why are so many people so invested in denying that women are harassed? Why do you have to find alternative explanations? Or make it about headphones or something we did? After reading this blog and reading the comments, how many times to women have to tell you that it happens? And it sucks.

    • I think it’s because they feel that any attention is good attention, and if women get the attention, that’s less for them, or at least, more than any woman deserves.
      I thought about this a lot after George Will delivered his steaming pile of shit article how women routinely lie about being assaulted because of the “status” that rape victims “enjoy”.

    • Yeah, I totally don’t understand why the default for many people is to defend the man/dismiss the woman.
      And some of the constructs people here are trying to make: “She was wearing headphones so it’s her fault I showed her my penis” or “I warned her not to look at my penis when I showed it to her”. The initial behavior is not okay and these reactions are also not okay.

  • When I was younger, my mom taught me that if I walk with confidence with my head held high, aware of my surroundings, that it will send out the signal “don’t mess with me.” The few times I’ve been harassed on the street I just roll my eyes at them and keep on walking. You have to have an attitude – it doesn’t have to be mean, bitchy, or snobby – just that you are sure of yourself.

    I’m 5’2″ and not physically imposing – I say high to the old men hanging out on the corner, and acknowledge the dealers on the street with a simple “hey” when I walk by. This tells them that I’ve noticed them AND I’m not scared. This goes a long way to not being harassed. If they don’t get the implicit message I’ll resort to “get the fuck away from me” and I keep on moving.

    Best advice I’ve ever gotten in regard to impending physical altercation is to go absolutely beserk – get really loud and act crazy.

    • Your mom’s advice is good… but I’m not sure there’s always a rhyme or reason to street harassment, or a remotely surefire way to carry oneself so as to prevent it.
      I rarely get harassed on the street, but a lot of women get harassed ALL THE TIME. I don’t think it’s because I’m doing something “right” and they’re not.

      • The poster asked for advice on how to handle these situations. This is what works for me, so it’s the advice I give.

  • General Grant Circle

    I once was walking up Georgia Ave by a tree when suddenly I felt something splash on my shoe – a man was hiding behind the tree peeing out onto the sidewalk. P*ss happens

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