‘I cried all the way back’: sexual harassment on public transport

How does it feel to be subject to unwanted sexual attention on your morning commute? Or on your way to school? We asked readers to tell us their stories of sexual harassment on public transport

 

I thought this article in the British newspaper “The Guardian” was very well written. Really, it is a model for such approaching such topics. The article was helping a campaign against sexual harassment:

Transport for London launched a hard-hitting campaign against sexual assault and harassment on its services. Accompanied by a harrowing video of a woman experiencing sexual assault on the Tube, the campaign urged anyone who experienced unwanted sexual behaviour to report it to the police. A year on since its launch, with the video boasting more than 4m views, 36% more people have reported such incidents on the London underground.

More excerpts below:

We asked our readers to tell us about their experiences. Some told us about being followed off trains. Others told us about men trying to sneak a feel of their breasts between shopping bags. Then there were those who witnessed public masturbation, or were just teenagers when they were first subject to unwanted sexual attention.

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Being glad to have found a seat amidst the full carriage after a stressful day at work, I took off my coat and acknowledged the people sitting around me with a smile. I was listening to music and reading a book in English for a while, when I felt the man sitting diagonally opposite of me looking over intensely. He was in his 40s.

I was listening to music and reading a book in English for a while, when I felt the man sitting diagonally opposite of me looking over intensely. He was in his 40s.

Although I was wearing a buttoned up shirt, showing no cleavage whatsoever, I loosely wrapped my scarf around my neck, also covering my chest. I kept reading, and he kept staring. At the next stop a lot of people got out and even more came in. In between he quickly came over and took the newly empty seat opposite of me.

Only inches away he started grinning at me. I felt very uncomfortable, my eyes glued to the page. One stop before mine I had to get my coat on again and got up to make my way through the packed carriage.

Waiting for the train door to open I saw in the corner of my eye the man was still sitting down. I jumped out of the train and walked quickly upstairs, almost running. I still had a bad feeling, so instead of walking the rest of the way home, as I usually did, I turned the corner and went downstairs to another line to catch a different train for one more stop.

On reaching the platform, the man suddenly turned up next to me, walking along with the same, fast pace.

“Hey, wait!” he shouted at me in English. I realised ignoring him would no longer work, so I took out one of my earphones. Without stopping I said to him: “You make me feel uncomfortable. I’m sure you are a nice person and mean well, but can you please stop following me?”

“Hey, you speak English? It’s not a bad thing. We can talk.” he said with a dirty grin.

“Sorry, but I do not want to talk to you. Please leave me alone!” I replied slowing down next to two ladies in their 50s chatting. He was stood in front of me.

“You take this train, too? What direction? We can meet some time.”. He touched my arm. I answered: “No, I do not want to meet or talk to you. Leave me alone now!”

The train came rattling in. With my heart pumping I firmly walked around the intrusive man, followed the two ladies into the carriage and sat down with them next to the window.

When the train left the station I couldn’t tell if the man was still on the platform. For a while I was afraid he might be in a different carriage. When I got out at the next stop, I stood next to a group of young punks and only then I was brave enough to wait and see if the man was still following me. He wasn’t – I was alone again. Shaky and sweaty I walked home.

The next day I told my mostly male co-workers about the incident. They all said: “You shouldn’t have smiled at him when you first took off your coat.”

I never reported it nor told anyone else about it. They made me feel like it was my fault and that I should be ashamed.

It was not my fault and I no longer feel ashamed.

Kira, Hamburg

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Good for you, Kira. Here’s the first problem – girls like Kira are brought to be polite and civilized – but they live in a violent world. You notice that Kira’s response is mostly very polite – when confronted with a harassing, potentially violent, man. Given his behavior, one can only guess at how deeply the turd goes in his head regarding sexuality. I’m sure his reading of her smile was she must be fishing for a sexual encounter with a stranger, or maybe he thought she was a prostitute. Or maybe he thought that there wasn’t anything meant by her smile, but he thought he might be able to exploit her sexually or to bully her someway into talking to him. In any case, he decided to target her.

Obviously, through no fault of her own, Kira has lived in a very sheltered world. We can see this by her reaction here:

“I’m sure you are a nice person and mean well, but can you please stop following me?”

What?! Was this her head going into denial or did she really think an older man who is harassing and following her with a dirty grin is a “nice person who means well”? Did she think this because she had never had an experience of a threat or harassment from someone? And the fact that she is so polite!

I’m glad, albeit she was overly polite, that she repeatedly told the guy to leave her alone.

Then, not surprisingly, she tells of her co-workers’ reaction, blaming her.

“The next day I told my mostly male co-workers about the incident. They all said: “You shouldn’t have smiled at him when you first took off your coat.”

Well, it’s true, she shouldn’t have – because she was in a public place full of strangers. However, it was not her fault that she did. Had she been living in a decent society, she could have smiled without worries. But when you live in a world where people let others live “as they want”, that’s what happens. All the predators, harassers, LGBTs, and perverts live “as they want”, doing whatever they want, as long as they get away with it.

What consequences will this guy ever face over what he did? None. Especially now that such a long time has passed and whatever security video there might be of the incident has long been erased. And even if there was a video, and she denounced the man to authorities, what would they do? And if she went on national TV with her story, what retaliation could she expect later in life?

The silver lining in this case is that the newspaper offered a space and an opportunity for people like Kira to tell and therefore re-examine their harassment experiences. Now she has broken her silence and, most importantly, she was able to realize that it was not her fault. She herlself did nothing bad, starting with her innocent smile. But it’s just not something you can do.

Now, as a post-examination exercise, let’s imagine for a second that this man is bisexual and goes after young men and women. He’s a member therefore of the LGBT community who cries over and over again about how mistreated and discriminated they are in society. Really, oppressed people, are they? Let’s suppose he is heterosexual, but his perversion extends from having a dirty mind about women to also endorsing homosexuality. So he is a gay-friendly sexual harasser, potentially a rapist. A gay-friendly rapist! Were he to present himself as a candidate for a job, and mention he was gay-friendly and compete for the job against a person who was against normalizing homosexuality, most liberals would hands down give him the job. See, “equality” for sexuality turds is like that!

 

 

 

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