Public Transport

Tammy

A man took his penis out and jerked off in front of me on the subway. After he climaxed he got off the train at the next stop.

K

I was on the train and a man sat down directly opposite me. It felt strange because there were other seats and everyone was keeping distance because of COVID. And and after about ten minutes I noticed that he had opened his jeans and started touching himself. I told him it was not ok and he did not even blink. I was in shock but immediately got up and changed seats. Nobody noticed. When I got to my station, I went to the police station and reported it. Now I am extremely uncomfortable using public transportation and always look at the hands of the men. It freaks me out.

indie, 14

I was on a train platform, travelling to a football match with my dad. I bumped into this man and stumbled, apologising. He took it upon himself to ‘steady’ me by placing his hand on my backside, essentially groping me. I laughed it off at first, thinking ‘oh it isn’t that serious’ and ‘so many women have had worse’ before being able to tell myself that actually, it’s not okay and should never have happened. I hope speaking about something as small scale as this can show other women that no matter what it was, it wasn’t your fault and it matters. You matter.

Mary

I was on the bus heading to work around 7:30 am. Eventually it was only this man and me on the bus. I am 19, bundled up as it was cold. I noticed his hand moving. He was jacking off and staring at me. I ran off the bus and called my brother. He told me to power through. My male roommate made a joke about it. “It’s not that bad”, “It’s kind of funny”.

Emma

In middle school, I took the subway home with 2 classmates. The train was full, and the three of us stood together around a pole. I had my back to an entrance-way where the train door forms a corner with a plexiglass pane. A tall middle-aged Caucasian man with a large belly was standing on the other side of the entrance, a few feet away. As soon as the doors closed, he started moving towards me, almost imperceptibly with the swaying and bumping of the train. I stuck out my elbow in an effort to keep some distance between his body and mine, but he continued pressing towards me, pushing me into the plexiglass. At each stop, as the doors flew open and commuters moved into the train, he stepped back and sighed as if he was disappointed or annoyed at the interruption. Then, when the train left each station, he began his approach all over again. Finally, I gave up trying to block him with my arms and asked my male classmate to trade places with me. My classmate didn’t understand why, but conceded when I tugged on his arm and repeated my request. That was the only moment the man looked directly at me. He did not approach the male classmate. The other classmate, a female, shook her head and said “oh my god, that man” under her breath. All the adults surrounding us looked away. More than a decade later, this memory still replays in my head sometimes. I feel conflicted between wanting to dismiss the whole incident as “nothing” because I wasn’t hurt, and my anger that society couldn’t even protect a child from such brazen public predation. I’m grateful to my peers for helping me out of that situation. I’m also frustrated that my male peer was both immune and oblivious to the harassment I faced.

Jess

My parents have never been uncomfortable with my gender expression. Back in the 80s and 90s during my childhood my mother was obsessed with trying to force me into floral Laura Ashley dresses. To fit in with what was normal for girls. Fast forward to 2020, the most recent story from my parents. They had been observing the girls leaving the local high school. Apparently none of them had short hair. I’m now 40 years old and I’m still very happy to have my short hair. It still makes my parents feel uncomfortable. My questions are; why is it so important that women and girls have long hair? why did all the high school girls want to have long hair? and why weren’t they interested in how many boys had long hair?

Lucy

There have been numerous occasions now where i have sat on the tube and been faced with men sitting there with their hands casually placed atop or grabbing at their penis, just to make women uncomfortable. I threw water on one such guy and it made a difference.

Min

i was 15 in my school uniform waiting at the bus stop on my way home from school. a male construction worker somewhere over 40 crossed the road to talk to me. he told me i was exotic and beautiful and asked where im from. i was alone and everyone around me was ignoring the situation, i was scared. he told me he would dream of me that night, winked, and walked away. i have never been able to get his face out of my mind.

Anon

Will never forget attending attending school in the 90s and Colleges/Learning support venues in the 2000s and having to hear the constant, uncivil barrage of objectifying comments directed at other females and myself. Sadly for over 20 years I have been subjected to and have overheard (with no possibility of escape) a constant stream of explicit language from males. Every 3 or so words there would be references to women’s “asses”, “tits” and “cunts”. Sadly female members of staff were not spared these comments either. I felt bad for them having to deal with this nonsense. It was truly awful having to listen to their bra and knicker sizes being berated by young men. Young men would constantly discuss if they preferred “boobs or ass” on women, as if women’s bodies were like meat hanging in a butcher’s. Those young men that did not discuss these insensitive topics were labelled as “gay”. Even boring homework assignments or monotonous lessons were oddly labelled “gay” also. This must have been horrendous for young men who were actually homosexual to deal with. I did not feel safe, relaxed or supported in such environments. I felt under constant stress. I could not operate at my best and I felt constant fear. At places I have worked, such explicit comments are forbidden, so why is such vile and misogynistic language allowed in places of learning?!! Sadly such foul language is normalised even on educational field trips it seems. How frighteningly casual it is, when in the middle of trying to write scientific notes during fieldwork I overhear the phrase: “I’d do her”. It’s got me down to such a point that I am deeply depressed and am mourning the fact that females’ bodies were not treated with respect by many men and boys in educational environments. As a very sick and deeply disturbed society, we sadly blame individual women for other men’s transgressions. It is the affected women that are told to take “anti-depressant pills” and “stop thinking negatively”, but the men aren’t told to change their behaviour. I am not saying that we should all be prudes and ban Biology lessons in school. Women and girls should be able to learn about bodily health in respectful, safe and informative ways. I am asking if it is possible for some male students to engage in a civil, respectful conversation without uttering the words: “tits”, “ass” or “cunt” every 3 seconds. This made it very difficult for me as a female to make friends with young men or engage them in any productive discussion. I am not asking that every young male be the perfect gentleman or for them to put women on pedestals. I am just wondering if mutual respect and listening is possible in educational settings. Disappointment does not even cover how I feel as an adult right now. I feel angry and betrayed. My mind feels hurt like I have some invisible injury. I feel very lonely, untrusting and uncertain all the time. I am very sorry if this has offended anyone but this has sadly been my experience.

Annemarie

This happened when I was around 12. My mother had picked up my sister and me from school and we boarded a bus to go home. My sister and I were still in our school uniforms that ended below the knee. My mother and sister sat down (the bus was quite empty) but I wanted to stand because it was cooler than sitting on the sticky seats. My mother told me to sit but I pretended I didn’t hear her. At the next stop, a man got in. He stood directly behind me and when the bus started with a jerk, he ‘lost his balance’ and fell on top of me, grabbing the seat handle to stop himself from falling. He then proceeded to push one leg between my legs while pushing me down with his body. He did this till the next stop which was a couple of minutes away. He got off the bus immediately. I looked around but everyone was looking out of the windows or looking away. It was like nothing had happened. The only thing my mother said was, “I told you to sit!” She was angry and I was so scared and confused. It took me a long while to realise that she probably had not known what to do in the moment or maybe she didn’t want to call attention to it. It still feels surreal. It was the first time I had felt trapped by a man’s body and realised how strong a man could be.