The Sexist

Sexual Harassment By Men In Uniform

This week, local street harassment blog Holla Back DC recorded two incidents of street harassment by local firefighters. In the year that Holla Back has been publicizing sexual harassment in the District, the blog has aired plenty of stories of harassment originating from the District's men in uniform. In honor of this dubious occasion, I've collected the stories submitted to Holla Back about those firefighters, police officers, security guards, deliverymen, and bus drivers who are comfortable hollering at women while representing the D.C. government—or UPS.

* Harassment by firefighter:

As I was looking down the street at oncoming traffic, a fire engine drove by. It was not on its way to an emergency, as its lights and siren weren’t on and they were driving at a somewhat slow speed. However, they honked their loud siren at me and started cheering out of the window. This was of course just as my fiance was walking out of the ATM. He was offended that men in uniform would do that, and to tell you the truth, it made me feel like common street trash and that they treated me like a hooker.

A few weeks ago, I was walking my dog past Dunbar High School across from the fire station. It was one of the particularly beautiful days we’ve had this Spring, and a group of all male firefighters was sitting on lawn chairs outside. A couple of the firefighters hollered at me from across the busy street, but I couldn’t understand their exact words because of the traffic. When I (reluctantly) glanced over, it was clear from their leering and the lack of any other pedestrians in the vicinity that they were targeting me. I understand they wanted to enjoy the nice day out, and evidently they weren’t busy fighting any fires, but their behavior toward me was unprofessional. I wanted to enjoy my time outside, too. Instead I felt uncomfortable and the need to get away

* Harassment by U.S. Capitol police officer :

when I came upstairs, one of the capitol police guys started asking me a bunch of questions about myself. At first I thought he was just doing his job, or being friendly. But then he asked me for a number. I attempted to excuse myself, but I didn’t feel free to totally blow him off because he was a police officer. He persisted in “can I get to know you?” and “next time you’re in town, you can stay at my house,” and “you’re so beautiful,” and “you know, I could take very good care of you, and you could take care of me [implying sex].” Finally, I told him that I date women, not men… that’s not actually true, but I thought it would be a way to excuse myself without hurting his pride. His response was “really? Well, maybe I can turn you back.” That has to be the most offensive thing he could have said. He also suggested that we could take a bath together, and that he could wash me. This went on for at least 15 minutes—if he’d been some loser on the street, or a rent-a-cop, I totally would have left, but I was afraid to piss off a capitol officer, so I put up with the bullshit until finally I told him that I would think about calling him, and he put his number into my palm.I was actually a bit threatened/frightened by the incident, because he was a police officer, and very persistent, and sexually explicit right off the bat. I hate that shit!

* Harassment by uniformed officer:

The other night my roommate and I were going to a club together. We had both never been to the place before and weren’t really familiar with the area so we were looking a little ‘distraught’. As we were passing a street corner we spoted a few police officers or security guard looking men. So, being 2 girls alone we decided to cross over to their side of the street. However, as we cross over we hear an onslaught of sexual remarks. “Hey baby where are you going tonight? You sure look sexy in that skirt!” We didn’t really think much of it – beyond the fact that it was annoying- until we realized who it was who was saying these things. It was none other then those officers/ security guards we were going towards! We both walked past them as quickly as possible. It was one of the most ironic situations!

* Harassment by security guard:

Tonight I left my gym (13th and F NW) and hurried down the street to catch my bus home. I was walking and texting, and I noticed a uniformed guard standing outside a building up ahead. As I passed, he said loudly, “Hey yo, can I get a text too?” I kept my head down and ignored him; I had a long day at work and I was tired. I always feel somewhat defeated when someone in uniform (guard, police officer) says something or leers at me. I suppose it’s because they’re supposed to protect us and make us feel safe.

Then there’s the evening security guard at my office building who, if nobody else happens to be in the lobby, will carry on with the, “Hey sexy, how are you? I like that dress, you look fine. Give me a smile, girl. I watched you walk all the way down the street the other day,” until I’m out of the building. This happens several times a week.

* Harassment by UPS employee:

After getting my free ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, at M & 31st I had to crouch down to pull my umbrella out of my bag since it started raining. A UPS driver was waiting at the light, and he had to say something to me:

“Ooh, girl! You don’t need to finish that all by yourself!”

Ugh! This man did not give a damn about his job.

When I told him that it was tacky and classless for him to hit on me in uniform, he started cracking up. Oh yes, sexual harassment is funny! (obvious sarcasm).

I am never one who takes harassment lightly, be it from a citizen or someone in uniform representing a company . . . I did get the UPS driver’s license plate number: Maryland plates 21S 925. As soon as I got home I called UPS to report him, and the woman who took the info down was so sympathetic and apologetic and said she’d have someone get in touch with me in the morning.

Ladies, don’t let these men get away with harassment, and never feel bad about these men getting in trouble at work if you report them. If they cared about having jobs they wouldn’t feel the need to do this in the first place.

* Harassment by bus driver:

This may sound silly to people, but this makes me uncomfortable. There’s this driver of the 38B that goes through Georgetown around 5:40 in the evenings, and when we board the bus, he completely ignores everyone else but says “Hi, howya doin’?” to me. Then he stares at me a little too long for my taste. I have no problem saying “hi” to a bus driver if s/he says “hi” first—I do it frequently and thank them when I get off the bus. . . . One time I didn’t respond to his “hi,” and he gives a huge sigh and mumbles something under his breath. I don’t know why this driver is so desperate to get my attention. If it’s for what I think it is, then sorry man, I’m not interested in you like that. My only interest in you is for you to get me to my destination safely.

i never bothered to complain when this one bus driver would harrass me. if they cant even get their shit together to get my bus on schedule, how much faith do i have in them following up on dirty and corrupt employees? BUT it’s time to take a stand and hold them accountable!

* Harassment by parking attendant:

I was not being harassed, but I saw a young woman approaching me walking toward the garage in a professional dress. There were two men standing at the entrance to the garage, one wearing a PMI hat and appeared to be the attendant. The other man was wearing a light green button up shirt. The men cat-called and said things loudly in a language I could not understand (but the intent was clear) while pointing and turning their bodies to follow the path of the young woman, who ignored them.

Even in uniform, no respect.

File your experiences with uniformed street harassment in the comments. Here's mine.

Photo via NCinDC, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Ward 5

    Where's the line between being hit on and harassed? If this is considered sexual harassment then I get sexually harassed daily... I chalk it up to an idiot who doesn't know how to approach a woman they're intrested in... oh and also that I am actually attractive. Can we arrest these fools? No, so continue to ignore them as I do.

  • Eo

    Women have fetisised men in uniform for a long time now, granted the bus drivers uniform and so on havent been fetishised but the point is that women fetishise and cat call certain men in uniform.

    The construct that tells people that cat calling is evil is cultural, subjective, gendered and socialised.


    Feminists say that male on female cat calling is evil but are silent on female on male.

    Sexual street banter is happily engaged in by both genders in south america, Ive been in a city where women are offended if you dont at least admire them.

    At the end of the day, its down to selective old chivalry isnt it? Men are expected to behave like gentlemen of old while women are to be free of the equivilant constructs for them.

  • kza

    A few women like men in uniform so that makes it ok for every cop, bus driver, McDonalds employee to make sexual remarks at all women. Isn't it obvious? I blame the radical feminist who were in favor of lynching black nazi fire fighters .

  • amellifera


    I heart you.

  • Fire w/ fire

    Let me just say that in the first scenario described, if someone was "common street trash" or a "whore", it was those male firefighters.

  • Saurs

    Eo, it's peachy that you learned a new word from reading a feminist blog -- chivalry -- but you've got a dead horse on your hands, and it stinks.

  • noodlez



  • Eo


    "A few women like men in uniform so that makes it ok for every cop, bus driver, McDonalds employee to make sexual remarks at all women. Isn’t it obvious? I blame the radical feminist who were in favor of lynching black nazi fire fighters".

    Every cop, bus driver, McDonalds employee doenst make sexual remarks at all women, never have and never will in the same way all women dont fetishise and cat call men un uniform and never have and never will.

  • Chris

    As a man, I find these incidents inexcusable and deplorable. That being said, the relater of the "U.S. Capitol Police" incident said that it occurred in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Just wanted to point out that Capitol Police do not have jurisdiction over this building, so I'm betting that it was probably a Federal Protection Service officer or a U.S. Customs officer (which is housed in that building). Again, inexcusable and deplorable, I just want to point fingers in the right direction.

  • Amanda Hess

    Thank you chris!

  • Golden Silence

    The men who harass while on the clock have no shame and also don't value their jobs.

  • kza

    "Every cop, bus driver, McDonalds employee doenst make sexual remarks at all women, never have and never will in the same way all women dont fetishise and cat call men un uniform and never have and never will."

    Offer not valid in South America.

  • Nancy

    Wow Eo, you are so incredibly stupid.

    OK, all you idiot douchebag fucktards like Eo, here is how it works - if a cop or a firefighter is harassing women on the street it means that I as a taxpayer am paying them to harass citizens they are supposed to protect.

    How is that not unethical? And if not illegal, it damn well should be. How could you be so stupid as to not get that?

    And as for non-gov't employees - they are using a situation where women are forced to interact with them (bus driver, parking lot attendant) to harass women.

    Men who harass women on the street damn well know that women take it as a threat - that's why they do it, to re-enforce the male privilege they feel so utterly entitled to. And men who use a professional situation to harass are such assholes they don't even let the possible employment repercussions stop them. They are COMPLETE douchebags.

    Nobody wants to date a complete douchebag. Which is clearly why Eo and the Eo clones and/or sockpuppets here have so much free time to constantly troll this web site.

  • Kate

    In the DC Metro area, I had three instances of being honked and hollered at by a USPS driver in Arlington. Same guy each time, but I couldn't ever catch his vehicle number. I got a hold of the Postal Service, but they were disinterested without a vehicle number.

    I've also been hugged up on by a WMATA employee at the King Street station. Since it's on both the Blue and Orange lines, I emailed both line managers. I got a canned response from one about how they hope I understand that the police can't be everywhere and that they simply can't allow food or drink on the metro (?). The other line manager called me to get a description of the employee and was appropriately horrified.

  • Golden Silence

    I got a canned response from one about how they hope I understand that the police can’t be everywhere and that they simply can’t allow food or drink on the metro (?)

    Good luck with getting Metro to take this seriously. I can't count the number of times I've reported Metro workers who've harassed me, just to get a perfunctory response. (I'm glad you at least got a positive response to one of your complaints to them.)

    Same guy each time, but I couldn’t ever catch his vehicle number.

    Does this guy go on the same route each time? Could that be a way of narrowing him down to report him?

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