An image consultant from Northwest Washington says that she and other black women are outraged by Mayor Marion Barry's alleged drug use and coarse treatment of women, but view it as a "private matter" within the black community.

An Oxon Hill secretary is troubled that Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore and other women testified against the mayor, instead of showing strength by resisting pressure from federal prosecutors.

A medical writer from Washington's Takoma Park area said she thinks Barry "is a jackass" and she is turned off by the seediness of the mayor's case.

A recurring theme has run through the drug and perjury trial of Barry, and that is sex.

The trial's sexual subtext has generated strong feelings about the mayor, many of them in conflict -- especially among women. Because 15 of the 18 jurors and alternates in the trial are women, women's reactions to testimony about Barry's womanizing may play a role in determining his legal fate.

In random interviews with 22 women in the city in the last three weeks, The Washington Post found that most said they are uncomfortable that such personal details are emerging about Barry's private life. Some people said that the trial has a tawdry feel to it, that they have the feeling of being voyeurs into the mayor's life.

Beyond that, there seemed to be a breakdown along racial lines. Several white women interviewed expressed distaste for Barry, even as they said his sexual habits should be irrelevant in determining guilt or innocence on the drug and perjury charges. Many black women interviewed said they were as turned off by the government's behavior as they were by Barry's.

For some black women, the trial has raised sensitive issues concerning their role in relation to black men.

No matter what their race, many women interviewed said they reacted most strongly to the airing of the Vista Hotel videotape, and to the FBI's use of Moore to lure the mayor there.

Merle S. Goldberg, 54, a medical writer who is white and lives in the Takoma Park section of Northwest, is angry at the mayor. "I think Barry is a jackass with his yellow corsages, his talk about canaries, and his little snidenesses," she said.

"The whole thing is so seedy. I don't think these women who for so long were his {substance abuse} enablers would have come forth if there hadn't been pressure from the prosecution. It was his tail or theirs."

Gale Matheson, a white real-estate broker who lives in the Brightwood area of Northwest, said the government exploited Moore by bringing her to the Vista. "I object to the FBI using women to set up people . . . . Maybe they were desperate and this was the only way, but I don't particularly like it. It cheapens women, I think. Whether she was paid off with money or promises, I think that's our own government promoting prostitution of women and lessening, cheapening, their role."

Patricia Cooper, an industry specialist at the Department of Commerce who is white, said she thinks the testimony against Barry is "pretty damning." Cooper, 28, said, "It seems fairly conclusive that the mayor was involved in purchasing and using drugs. Of course, we haven't heard his side yet."

Like some other women interviewed, she said she felt uncomfortable about the personal nature of much of the testimony. "I think the way he treats his wife or feels about women has nothing to do with the trial," she said.

For some black women, the government's conduct was more offensive than the mayor's.

"It makes me angry that the government can't legitimately catch him in something corrupt, so they reach into his personal life and use these things to create a criminal impression, even though there's nothing criminal about liking women or being sick," said Lydia Lively, a black news editor at NBC here, who is 43.

Lucy Dozier, a secretary from Oxon Hill, said she disapproves of Moore's actions.

"I don't like what she did. It makes her seem like the lowest whore," said Dozier, 40, who is black. "To me, the black woman has always been stronger than the black man. These women who are testifying {against Barry} are not playing the role of a strong woman. They're playing prostitutes. They're doing what they want to do to get something they want. . . .

We're all black, and we should find some way to stick together."

Renee Dunkins, a physical therapy aide and Howard University student, agreed.

"When I saw the video, as a black woman, I was insulted," said Dunkins, 28. "To involve someone in a scheme to get them to use drugs, as a black woman, is very frustrating. We have a responsibility to try and help each other, make things work.

"Being the other woman, you really have no rights anyway," Dunkins said. "So it's absurd to think you have the right to try and get back at him."

Deborah Suber, 34, a government clerk, said Barry is not the only man to be unfaithful to his wife. "Should every {other} woman in that situation go and make a public issue out of it? I think Rasheeda just wanted the attention. She'd been trying to be something for a long time. She failed as a model, but now everybody knows Rasheeda."

Dunkins added that she is skeptical about the testimony of one witness, Linda Creque Maynard, who said that in 1988 Barry had sex with her against her will after a struggle. "I have a problem with women who decide, a year or two after {such an alleged incident} . . . to come forth and say they were attacked," she said. "Their credibility is shaky."

Dunkins characterized Moore as "obviously a woman scorned" and "a poor excuse for a black woman. She makes me angry. She's disgusting because she has allowed herself to interfere with a man's marriage, and allowed the government to manipulate her and him."

The white women interviewed were less judgmental about Moore. Matheson said she is more sad than angry about Moore's conduct. "My feeling about her is I think she suffers from her own addiction," she said. "The FBI played on that. They used and manipulated her because of her illness. I saw this {tape} as two very sick people -- emotionally, spiritually and physically sick."

Many black women said they approach the Barry case with the understanding that many men, even married ones, are sexually promiscuous.

"I was raised up that men run the streets," Dozier said. "That's just the way it is. I am not going to fall apart if I find out that my husband is having an affair."

Dunkins said she is angrier with Moore than with Barry because "whatever wrong Marion Barry did, he had no intention of destroying her life. And out of bitterness, she's destroyed his."

Across racial lines, women felt compassion for the mayor's wife and son.

"I feel sorry that Barry feels he needs vindication to the point where he had to drag the city and his family through this mess," Goldberg said. "I see a cracked ego in need of reinforcement."

But for some black women, many of whom see themselves and black men as under siege, there was more than one man or one family at stake.

Helen Asenath Moody, an image consultant in Northwest Washington, said that she believes it is the responsibility of the black community to deal privately with Marion Barry. "I would think African American women in general would be very angry with him. But he has us to answer to {that} in private," Moody said.

"It's very difficult for me to imagine the things that would make someone come out against him in public like that," said Moody, a friend of the mayor's. "I can imagine getting him in a corner when I see him and beating him up."

"I'm listening to brothers talk about how women will betray them," said Ann Brooks-Owens, an auditor on her lunch hour in a park downtown. "The whole thing of trusting and confiding in us is being destroyed. The trial is supposed to be about drugs, and now they're bringing in all this sex stuff . . . . We're losing sight of the issue, which is right and wrong."