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Sep 04 2012

After You Say, “No”, Part II

“All she had to do was say, ‘No.’”

That’s how I started a post almost a year ago. At the time, I was appalled that we’d been talking about an incident in a Dublin elevator for nearly three months. (Oh, my naivety, where have you gone?) The post used a different incident, well outside the atheosphere, to demonstrate how what happens in an elevator doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

This post is for everyone who has told me that if I were just clearer about my boundaries that guys would back off or that women just aren’t clear enough about expressing their discomfort.

That wasn’t the problem. It’s almost never the problem, but rather, a symptom. And now, nearly a year later, we have another woman sharing an incident that demonstrates exactly the same thing.

A seemingly normal man enters the train with his bicycle.  At this point I am three rows from the front of the car, another man was sitting near the back of the car, and the rest of the car is empty.  Bicycle Man walks halfway down the row, and settles into the seat directly opposite me.  Perfect, I think.  Twice in one night.

It’s not the first time I’ve been bothered multiple times.  As such, I’m still amped from the teenagers on the first train.  So when this man leans across the aisle into my personal space and asks me, yes, what are you reading, I assertively but calmly tell him to please leave me alone, I am reading.  The man stands up, moving to the front and muttering angrily over his shoulder that it isn’t his fault I’m pretty.

Yes.  Exactly that.  I am the bad person in this situation because somehow this is all my fault.  I started this by being attractive.  I am making a mental note to bitch about this to my friends later.  I go so far as to write it down so I know I’m remembering it properly.

It is at this exact moment I realize Bicycle Man is not taking it well.

Some of you know just how badly this could go, particularly in an enclosed space like a train. For you, I’ll point out here that the woman writing this was not physically injured. The rest of you, go find out what the basic problem is. See what entitlement looks like when it’s denied.

68 comments

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  1. 1
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And cut off your damned tongue before you spew, “That’s life. .what did she expect.” Seriously. Cut it off before I do.

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    Well, either it’s just what happens, in which case nobody’s got any cause to mock anyone for feeling threatened in these situations, or elevators, etc. are perfectly safe. People (and I use the term somewhat loosely) really need to make a choice here.

  3. 3
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    But making choices is divisive, Stephanie!

    Pout.

    I’ve learned recently many people are moral cowards (more than I knew before, and I’m a cynic). If you can’t handle “divisive,” you’re not worth a shit.

  4. 4
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    Yeah, and it was my fault I was assaulted – I made him feel that way.

    I saw a nice thing on facebook this morning, oe of those wordy pictures. It had a nice little screed about how men should feel incredibly offended when someone says a woman ‘asks for it’ when she dresses seductively and so forth. Saying that implies that all men are, by default, rapists.
    Nice way to turn it around, I thought. Not perfect, but nice.

  5. 5
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    @ Sophia:
    I know, right? I’m a guy, I see women wearing relatively scant clothes all the time (in summer anyway). Surprisingly enough, to me, this is just part of life, and I go about my business without interacting with them or the men who aren’t wearing much (summer) either. All you other men have to do is be a bloody grownup, and then you won’t leave a trail of pissed off and upset women behind you. I am entirely out of patience with my gender on this issue.

  6. 6
    navigator

    Well, yes, it IS his damned “fault you are pretty”. That is his interpretation of events. He has perceived you are pretty and therefore sexually available. It has nothing to do with you, who have no control over HIS perceptions or actions. He wants what, you should be in a burka? So he (poor male who has no control over himself) should be protected from your appearance/attractiveness and therefore protect him from his lack of internal control? This is classic male-centric creepiness.

  7. 7
    Lou Doench

    I’ve got 2 little girls, 7 and 5. It fills me with rage that they may have to deal with even a fraction of that scenario when they are pretty young women. (not bragging, but yeah, my girls got good genes). I’m not sure how to stop it, but I’m sure that ignoring it is not an option.

  8. 8
    SallyStrange

    Egad, it is so fucked up that my first reaction to this is “Damn I’m lucky,” rather than, “That’s outrageous!”

  9. 9
    Onamission5

    Something much like this has happened to me. At a kids’ basketball game, in front of dozens of people, while I was nursing my newborn. Except in my case I didn’t rebuff a pass, I made a light joke to a guy who was trying to coach his kid’s team over the actual coaches, and in return I got physically menaced, threatened, screamed at, cursed at, mocked and threatened some more. With children as witnesses, one of whom was my own. Nobody did anything during the attack (well, some people pointed and snickered),they didn’t stop the game, even, nobody did anything when I went to management afterward. I made it home without losing my shit but spent half an hour in the car shaking and crying before my spouse came to check on me. I stopped going to basketball games without my husband and never signed my kids up for sports in that town again.

  10. 10
    AnyBeth

    I told a same-age school-mate (that, in retrospect, was certainly engaged in sexual harassment) to go away. For that, he sexually assaulted me right where we were, in view of many students and at least one teacher. At this, in my fear and shock, I slapped him with whatever I had in my hand. Then he threatened me with rape. I froze… and then my bus (which he didn’t ride) came. If it hadn’t arrived right then, I’ve little doubt what was next would’ve been anything good. There was too much already. He didn’t rape me. But he didn’t stop because I said no and he didn’t stop because I defended myself from his touch. Presumably, he stopped right then because other students knew I was there and expected me on that bus; there would have been questions, at least. If my bus came later…
    Btw, yeah, I told. He got the tiniest of consequences; I got told to ignore it and also PTSD. I was one that said no and then it got worse.

  11. 11
    jflcroft

    Stephanie:

    Do you have any recommendations for allies in such a situation? I don’t often know precisely what to do. I have been in situations a little similar to this when intervention has made it a lot worse.

  12. 12
    Stephanie Zvan

    Good question, James. I wish I had a better answer, but I’m no expert. Honestly, the best advice I have is to simply be a visible witness. Don’t look or act as though it isn’t any of your business. Watch. Be prepared to do what you can if it gets worse (intervene, call for help, document for police), but treat irrational rage as the unpredictable thing it is.

    Getting more help when things are that bad is a good idea. You may be in a better position for it than the victim, who has to be prepared to defend themself or flee.

    You can also offer validation to the victim afterward, both situational and person. “That was terrifying. You didn’t deserve that.” That sort of thing. It doesn’t have to be much to help. Sadly, it will often be more than the victim gets otherwise.

  13. 13
    jose

    There needs to be a way to remove or stop the exceedingly strong link between women and sex from the minds of harassers. It’s obvious the guy wouldn’t have approached a man reading.

    imho, even if the guy would probably say himself that he’s not going to fuck the woman anytime soon if he stopped and thought about it, there is still the link deeper in the mind that leads him to behave like that. He needs a method to eliminate or control that link because it’s just not rational to identify random strangers with sex. (Then again, something like 100% of straight guys frequently watch porn, which does exactly that: to identify random women with sex. So that’s a reinforcing habit that works against the removal of the woman=sex equation.)

    I think only one idea is necessary to change this: You’re never going to fuck that one. People would benefit from repeating that to themselves, thinking it vehemently in order to override every other mental activity regarding the potential victim. Rational thought must take over and convince the rest of the mind that you’re not going to fuck that one. Even if it isn’t true afterwards! This is only a trick to prevent you from sexually harassing people, from hurting the people you approach. And it does that by taming all the underlying fantasies, desires, preconceptions and expectations that you may not even know you have.

    I think in general it’s useful for everybody to presuppose, just in case, as a default, that your interlocutor doesn’t want to fuck you. The mental fuck-0-meter must always start at zero!

  14. 14
    D4M10N

    “…just not rational to identify random strangers with sex.”

    Right, but this guy is obviously mentally ill and probably off his meds. Even the most sexually entitled neurotypical males don’t generally punch the walls and scream at the dead.

  15. 15
    Pteryxx

    Even the most sexually entitled neurotypical males don’t generally punch the walls and scream at the dead.

    …you really don’t know anything about the prevalence of violent harassment or domestic abuse. Or mental illness for that matter. Don’t insult mentally ill people by conflating them with entitled assholes.

  16. 16
    Elf Eye

    I was in a movie theater with plenty of empty seats. A man came in who chose to sit next to me and chose to repeatedly try to engage me in conversation even though I was trying not to be drawn into any conversation. Finally he stood up, angrily declared, “I don’t have to put up with this!”, and moved to another seat. Yes, he said, “I don’t have to put up with this!” So the fact that he wanted to flirt with me obligated me to flirt back, and my failure to do so was a positive affront, something I was doing to HIM even though HE was the one who had created the situation in the first place.

  17. 17
    silomowbray, sans frottage pour la douche

    I am so fucking angry after reading that my hands are shaking. I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE…FUCK!!!

    Like Lou @ 7 I have a baby girl, beautiful too. Not sure what I’d do if when she’s grown up I find out some privileged asscake threatens her like that. I’m sure I’d get up in his grill in a bad way. Not sure about how far I’d actually take it, but right now I’m inclined to violently shove his bicycle up his ass.

    FUCK.

    (I’m wishing good things for UnWinona.)

  18. 18
    BrianX

    jose:

    It’s not quite so simple as that. Don’t forget how much these assholes love to lean on accusations of whiteknighting to shame defenders into shutting up. They want to believe that no guy is going to come to a woman’s defense unless he expects a quid pro quo, and therefore use the likely fact that said defender isn’t going to get laid as an excuse to shame the defender into walking away and allowing the harassment to continue. (It’s not that different from wingnuts who see wealthy liberals as being somehow hypocritical.)

  19. 19
    Mikey

    What a sucky double bind:

    If you were just clear in your response then guys would leave you alone but don’t be a bitch about. >_<

  20. 20
    Natasha

    I got in a long argument online with a rape appoligist who claimed if the women didn’t say no then it wasn’t rape. The person I was arguing with was a woman. Being assertive in these situations tends to be a moving goal, no tater what you do you’re wrong and it’s you fault. Then if you actually do fight back you risk doing time like Ce Ce McDonald is.

    And people older why I’m suicidal. It’s because shit like this makes me wonder if life is worth the trouble.

  21. 21
    Mikey

    Sorry, I meant to say what a Fucked Up double bind

  22. 22
    lochaber

    I almost feel like I almost may have been the quiet male occupant in the car before…

    I live in an urban area, and, if nothing, I’ve learned to mind my own damned business (or at least be discreet if I’m going to observe someone else’s or whatever)

    I don’t like bullying period. whether it is a bigger male against a smaller male, a group against an individual, or even a threatening individual against a passive individual.
    I know this issue is deeper and more pervasive then that, but that’s how it shows up on my ‘radar’ initially.

    I really hope that if I find myself in a similar situation (actually, I’d really like to hope that this sort of situation never happens to anyone again, but, well, I like to consider myself a bit of a realist…), that I’d have the awareness and the courage to, at the very least, get up and reseat myself near the target, or possibly twixt the target and the aggressor.

    Just earlier, I was thinking how amazing it was that our species managed to chuck a vehicle up into space, and (safely) down onto another damned planet, and it’s currently rolling around and sending back high-quality pics and stuff. From a planet so far away that it takes light something like a dozen minutes or so to cross the distance. fuckin light – that shit’s instantaneous.

    And then I’m reminded how we treat each other.

  23. 23
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Right, but this guy is obviously mentally ill and probably off his meds. Even the most sexually entitled neurotypical males don’t generally punch the walls and scream at the dead.

    Fuck that shit.
    The problem is not to be solved with a few pills. He might well have serious issues, but he’s on the extreme end of a spectrum of entitled males who do such things.
    Not that long ago a young woman here got assaulted in the presence of her baby in a stroller after she declined a guys advances. Was he just “mentally ill”, too?
    I got threatened with violence by a guy on the elevator when I asked him to please stop smoking. In the presence of my two small children (yes, dear Mr. Dawkins, the buttons to escape were convenietly placed right after his back). Yes, what did I think opening my pie-hole while being female.
    Was he mentally ill? Clearly no normal person would be such an asshole to smoke on an elevator anyway, and if they absentmindedly did they wouldn’t react violently.

  24. 24
    John-Henry

    Yep he was mentally ill and so were the teenagers and the many other men who she said approach her every other time she is on the train. Just random crazy people, no sexism involved so there is nothing to see here.

  25. 25
    phil zombi

    I don’t understand why anyone thinks that they are entitled to occupy strangers’ time/attention. I just can’t wrap my head around the notion that a woman on the train/street/wherever is obligated to engage with me because . . . Well, I guess that is the problem, because I don’t know. How can we combat this idea that a woman has no right to her own time or personal space if she chooses to leave the house?

  26. 26
    jhendrix

    Fuck that’s depressing to read.

    The part that upsets me the most is that I can’t think of a good way to fix the problem. It seems near impossible.

    The only solution I can think of at the moment is that the woman would be far better off if she were armed and had basic gun training.

    I really don’t like that answer, but I’m having a hard time seeing an alternative. Force is ultimately what’s going to be respected when rationality and norms break down. Is that what must be resorted to? Is there a better answer?

  27. 27
    jose

    I know guys who have lost it with some girl. Friends! Not to the point of threatening and screaming but yes to the point of not leaving the girl the-fuck-alone and start an argument once it was clear she didn’t want to date him or drink with him.

    It’s strange because sometimes if things are getting ugly and you take the guy away and force him to think about it, they admit it and give up. The rational mind has won (this is only with friends of course. Strangers will react violently). What was preventing them from reaching that conclusion on their own? They just get mad and double down, which logically makes everything worse. imo the origin of all is the unconscious, instant notion of fucking her that takes over the mind. It takes practice —active training— to override that.

    I’ve looked around and one of the penalties for sexual harassers is “counseling”. Does anybody know anything about that?

  28. 28
    Me

    “The only solution I can think of at the moment is that the woman would be far better off if she were armed and had basic gun training.”

    I’m pretty sure that if a woman shoots a man for harassment, she’d better be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he would actually have acted on what she perceived as the threat. Otherwise she’s going to have a hard time explaining herself to the authorities and is likely to be considered a hysterical female who over-reacted.

    Just based on my experiences.

  29. 29
    jhendrix

    @Me#28

    I’m not saying that the reaction is always to “shoot when verbally harassed”. If the threats get close enough to broach into physical danger, the woman has a way to potentially control the situation. If it escalates, the gun gets pulled and the stand off starts, hopefully long enough until some authority can be brought in. The threat is what’s important, hopefully not having to shoot.

    At a minimum, it provides a way to feel safe, and gives her the option to try and control the situation rather than being stuck as a victim, assuming that she is physically weaker than her attacker.

    I fully admit that this isn’t ideal, I don’t even like the idea, but I’m really not seeing much of a better alternative.

  30. 30
    Pteryxx

    If the threats get close enough to broach into physical danger, the woman has a way to potentially control the situation. If it escalates, the gun gets pulled and the stand off starts, hopefully long enough until some authority can be brought in. The threat is what’s important, hopefully not having to shoot.

    http://reason.com/archives/2012/05/02/20-years-for-standing-her-ground

  31. 31
    Susie

    I posted that tumblr on facebook last night, and woke to men complaining that guys aren’t really like that and it’s clear he was mentally ill. When I pointed out that you can’t diagnose a mental illness based on someone’s second hand account of an hour of a stranger’s life, and that even if he was, the teenagers also acted in a way that women shouldn’t have to put up with. I was basically ignored, and told that my strategy of being polite and distant was more likely to lead to me getting hurt because I would then be “leading him on”.

    This from people who think we’ve already achieved equality.

  32. 32
    jhendrix

    @Pteryxx#30

    Fucking. Hell.

    I got nothing. Honestly. I didn’t think the system could fail so spectacularly. How does she get sentenced to that while someone like Zimmerman has the potential to walk free based on the stand your ground law in the same state?

    I’d hope she can win her appeal.

  33. 33
    Pteryxx

    jhendrix: Sorry about that. I’d rather not go into depth right now, but basically women are presumed to be in the wrong especially when they defend themselves. This shows up in investigation, sentencing, and in victim-blaming news reports all the time.

  34. 34
    Pteryxx

    jhendrix: I also recommend as a starting point Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Men who explain things”:

    http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/08/problem-men-explaining-things-rebecca-solnit

    Credibility is a basic survival tool. When I was very young and just beginning to get what feminism was about and why it was necessary, I had a boyfriend whose uncle was a nuclear physicist. One Christmas, he was telling—as though it were a light and amusing subject—how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand…

    Credibility is a basic survival tool.

  35. 35
    Natasha

    @jhendrix 32

    The system is stacked against women in this and in favor of the harasser and abuser. If you don’t fight back enough you were asking for it, if you fight back and win you go to jail. The whole thing stinks and I have no idea what the solution is.

  36. 36
    Captaintripps

    When I read that yesterday it took me back to a couple of very similar incidents that have happened to me on the train. They were terrifying, even when there was merely assault threatened. And I’m a dude who usually gets left alone because of my looks.

    The added circumstances for Unwinona…

  37. 37
    James Croft

    Thanks Stephanie – that’s helpful.

  38. 38
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    jhendrix

    If the threats get close enough to broach into physical danger, the woman has a way to potentially control the situation. If it escalates, the gun gets pulled and the stand off starts, hopefully long enough until some authority can be brought in. The threat is what’s important, hopefully not having to shoot.

    If you’re wondering what got your country into this mess of thousands of people killed by guns, it’s this.
    Ever heard the word “arms-race”?
    And after the shitstorm that followed after “guys don’t do that”, have you any idea what would follow a “leave me alone or I’ll call Smith & Weston”?

  39. 39
    Pteryxx

    well, one small but vital thing we can at least start with is to be the person who takes women seriously when they get attacked. Make public statements around the women in your life that this sort of crap is not okay, and be ready to listen and offer NONjudgemental support when someone you know comes to you for help – as will very likely happen if you’re deemed one of the rare people worthy of trust. The only caveat is not to rush in with loud public defense, because drawing attention to the person targeted or taking control away from them very likely will put them at risk – but if they’re willing to take action, you can support them in doing so, by being moral support. You can even offer to give a witness statement if you see an incident like those above.

    *note: while women bear the brunt of this, male victims of sexual aggression often don’t get believed either, nor do the poor, disabled, or POC. If you’re privileged in having credibility, sometimes you can offer it by proxy to the person who needs help.

  40. 40
    Besomyka

    On the topic of what to do to help, I remembered this crafty intervention.

    Not for everyone. If you can’t intervene for whatever reason, making it apparent that the events are being recorded might help. Pop out a cell phone for photos or video, if you have one. Or discretely call the police if the person appears to be getting violent.

  41. 41
    jhendrix

    @Giliell#38

    I’m not saying the solution is ideal, but I wasn’t seeing anything better. You can argue what you want about gun culture or what it has done in the US, but that’s not necessarily the argument I’m making.

    My thoughts on the matter aren’t necessarily an endorsement of guns (I don’t own any, nor want to), it’s more of trying to find a way to help women find more security, and not be as afraid of simply going home at 10:30PM on a train.

    Basically – is it viable to “fight back” in the direct sense? Say what you want about guns, but it is what enables nearly anyone to stand up to anyone else in a confrontation largely regardless of physical prowess.

    Again, let’s move away from the issue of guns, I’m simply trying to think of pragmatic ways to increase the safety of women in situations like this. Firearms were just the first method that came to mind, and I was trying to think of options.

    I get that the underlying problem is that she is harassed, because she’s female and attractive. But I’m relatively positive that society is never going to be able to stop situations like that from ever occurring, or if I’m optimistic in the best sense, it’s not happening anytime soon.

    Is one solution to provide better physical security at all times to those likely to be abused? Ignore the method that’s provided (guns, personal bodyguards, some magic-get super strong pills that only work for women).

  42. 42
    Pteryxx

    jhendrix: first off, the vast majority of harassment is not physical. There’s always the threat of it BECOMING physical though, which is why women can’t just ignore it. Then, most physical harassment doesn’t escalate to the level of criminal activity where police or security would bother to act on it. Third, depending on security to intervene means *the security* has to not simply make the problem worse – in many cases, perhaps most, police or security just brush the woman off and tell her to quit complaining, or laugh at her, or worse… join in.

    There’s even been a recent example of security making the situation worse for the person they’re supposedly protecting:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/18/tams-harassment-policy-was-secret-why/

    Basically, credibility and support of the victim has to be demanded all the way down, or else ANY system put in place to protect women is going to be subverted, as per the current status quo. Sure, you can have increased security staff on trains, but ONLY if they’re trained and watchdogged for any harassment they might try to commit. You can have a reporting system for harassment ONLY if the reports will be addressed and kept confidential and not just used to silence the victims or tip off the harassers. Really it all comes back to credibility as an absolute requirement.

  43. 43
    Josh

    I, personally, do try to be the guy who says “Hey, back off and leave her alone” when I see this situations. I don’t see ‘em as often now that I’m not riding public transit, sadly.

    The worst perversity of the whole thing for me, personally? In my long-past college days, I ended up with a phone number and a nice few dates by responding to “I’m sorry, I’m trying to read” with “No problem, sorry to have bothered you”. Apparently I was literally the only guy she’d ever known to both be forward enough to ask and polite enough to be gracious about a rejection.

  44. 44
    eric

    Besomyka @40

    If you can’t intervene for whatever reason, making it apparent that the events are being recorded might help.

    I think even being a noticable eyewitness might reduce some of this behavior in some cases. In this case, the old frail guy in the back of the train might have had a positive effect just by walking up to where the woman was sitting and sitting down near her. Ignoring a commotion, not moving in response to it, and moving away can all subtly telegraph the message ‘I won’t interfere.’ Conversely, moving towards a commotion implies that you are at least curious about what’s going on, and might intervene/are possibly willing to intervene. It may also stop some of the really wild stuff. As the snackman case illustrates (thanks pteryxx), a person who thinks they have been wronged may still be unwilling to attack a bystander, even when their reasoning for thinking they were wronged is bats**t insane.

    I’m not passing judgement on the third passenger for staying still. Moving up might have caused bicycle guy to target him with violence, or backfired by making the guy act even worse if bicycle guy was looking for an audience. Its risky. But IMO, showing solidarity by moving to a position of support can at least be thought of as a superogatory act.

    jhendrix @41:

    Again, let’s move away from the issue of guns, I’m simply trying to think of pragmatic ways to increase the safety of women in situations like this.

    Make his response socially unacceptable. That’s the way you do it. When you see a friend try and flirt with a woman who is signaling pretty clearly that she doesn’t want to flirt, call them on it. If they then try to blame her, call them on that. I do not need a gun to protect myself from random strangers walking into my house because we have socially trained each other not to walk into strangers’ houses. Likewise, you increase the safety of women in situations like this by reducing the likelihood of situations like this occurring in the first place.

    Remember also that bicycle guy was the second man to approach her on that train, and the first one had friends who did nothing/supported their guy friend. Improving the world starts with the simple admonition: don’t be those friends.

  45. 45
    Pteryxx

    Well heck, PZ just posted yet another example, emphasis mine:

    My friends tried to find him, and tried to tell security (and got a “Okay? What do you expect me to do?” response). I freaked out for a bit, but thank god I have amazing friends who were there to smother me in hugs and “I’ll break his dick off” threats.

    quoted in:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/05/its-not-skeptics-atheists-or-gamers-its-the-whole-culture/

  46. 46
    Josh

    Darn thing ate my whole middle paragraph:

    “I think what would help a lot with some of these guys, since they aren’t listening to women in the first place, is getting a kind of anti-rape culture going with people who are watchful for these kind of bad behaviors and socially punish them in the moment. More immediate responses means more learning, and seeing both men and women involved in the response will be its own learning experience for some of these people.”

  47. 47
    Pteryxx

    also, eric: thanks, but the Snackman example wasn’t me, that was Besomyka. I don’t provide ALL the citations on FTB! ;>

  48. 48
    sezit

    I love the idea of being ready to record it, because it’s something you can DO! There are phone aps for secret recording. Then post it online if the behavior is bad enough – that will get back on him in a painful way.

    Otherwise, props to this woman for putting her story out. Its so awful that these guys are such shits.

    Record it whether you are the target or the bystander. If men thought that they might be recorded, they might behave differently. (Big brother is everywhere, might as well use to our advantage!)

    In fact, I’ve often wondered if being covertly recorded and later shown video would make everyone think twice about some of the shit that we pull (and then conveniently remember differently).

  49. 49
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I love the idea of being ready to record it, because it’s something you can DO!

    I used to make fake calls on my mobile to create an artificial audience, stating things like where I was, where I was heading, when I thought I’d be home, things you’d talk over with your mum, dad, SO on your way home.

    As for doing something:
    Maybe just ask her? Don’t act like she’s some thing again.
    First, you’re having the same effect, you’re creating a caring audience
    Secondly, you’re not getting yourself into the targetline by pushing the buttons of a violent scumbag even more.
    Third. yeah, less vibes of two guys fighting over a trophy.

    If there’s really a situation you need to physically act, and there are more people around, boss them around. It’s been proven that people are reluctant to help as long as they can reasonably pretend it’s not their problem, but if you say “you, sir, help me get that bastard off her, you lady call the police” they will comply.

  50. 50
    One Way Monkey

    At 12 I was cornered in a deep doorway of a school building, during lunchbreak. He was punching me, spitting, screaming in my face. Kids watched, adults watched, nobody intervened. That is, until I lashed out with my book bag.

    I was branded “violent” and “dangerous”, oh and “unfeminine”.

    From 11 I’d been subjected to violent assaults at school. A fifteen year old boy walked up to me, as I was in the outdoor lunch queue, and punched my head into the window. A sixth-former (they’re aged 16-18) threw me down a flight of stone stairs, completely unprovoked too.

    Nobody stopped it, teachers and fellow pupils laughed, and over and over I was told “It’s your fault. You’re too visible, too there, you take up too much space for a girl”.

    I took up space. Took up space.

    I knew then that men, and boys, hate women and girls. They fear our power, they’re angry if we dare to speak out, lash back, if we’re visibly female and not ashamed of that.

    I fucking hate it. I hate “But not all men…” and “But that’s not fair…”,as if not abusing, assaulting, raping or demeaning, is somehow something exceptional.

    We shouldn’t have to plan out three separate strategies for each train journey, or answer the door in a coat so we can pretend we’re on our way out, or or or or…

    Life should not be twice as difficult just because we’re not default humans, not real people, not men.

    This, on top of Jen’s post, is too much. It’s exhausting. The addition of dollops of stinking ableism is just the manure-flavoured icing on the shitcake. People with mental illnesses, me included, are overwhelmingly likely to be victims of violence. Victims, not perpetrators.

    But hey, much easier to pretend you’re not the type to harass women, because you’re a good guy, you’re not one of those loonies.

    Fucking pathetic. That’s the shit that’s divisive, dividing marginalised people off into groups to be mocked, baited, and then blamed for the pain we feel.

  51. 51
    WithinThisMind

    Otherwise she’s going to have a hard time explaining herself to the authorities and is likely to be considered a hysterical female who over-reacted.

    I had bruises, a witness, and he confessed to sexually assaulting (though he claimed I was ‘asking for it’). I stabbed him with a screwdriver after he backed me into a corner.

    Cops acted like I’d lured him there to attempt to kill him. Even had me handcuffed at one point.

  52. 52
    skeptifem

    I had a creeper follow me on a train. He kept asking me if I was married and all kinds of weird personal questions. I kept trying to walk away and give vague answers (after pretending to read failed). I had to text a dude to come pick me up instead of walking home because he got off at the same stop as I did and seemed intent on following me. I do absolutely nothing to attract men, I would go as far as to say that the choices I make in my appearance are aimed at trying to get men to leave me alone. Nothing stops this shit.

  53. 53
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I work for a brewery doing promo work. At a very well attended event at the local science museum, my table got stuck with some creepy middle aged dude who spent the entire night following me around (I kept moving to the opposite end of the table from him to get the fuck away from him), repeatedly asking me out, asking me if I had a sister “just like” me.

    I was at that table with THREE volunteers and my boyfriend.

    And though i made it very fucking clear to this creepy douche that i was not amused and completely uninterested – said the exact words “NO” and “GET AWAY FROM ME”, he persisted.

    Even though the other guys were trying to cheer me up by making jokes about that dude’s creepiness, and even though I made it very fucking clear that i was uncomfortable did anyone do anything? Even my boyfriend? NOPE.

    We found out that this guy had snuck into the event, not being a volunteer, a vendor or having bought a ticket. When I learned that, I found a security guard and he was kicked out.

    Later, when I asked my boyfriend why the fuck he didn’t do anything when he saw what was happening, heard me repeatedly tell creepy dude to fuck off, and saw how angry I was getting, his response was: “he was really good with the customers”.

    he became my ex boyfriend the moment that sentence left his mouth because my response was “good to know my safety is secondary to your desire to not do your own damn job”.

    on the plus side, I still work for the brewery and ex douchey useless boyfriend got canned.

  54. 54
    Michael Busch

    @jhendrix:

    If things become physical, there are many many other options besides carrying a gun. Working towards less lethal a few are: taser, sucker punch to vital points, mace, judo, joint-locks, and simple avoidance. If things look to become physical, often the simple fact of remaining calm, obviously aware, and physically intimidating can do a lot. Snackman had the advantage of being 6 feet tall and having a wrestler’s build, but I’ve known a few slender 5-feet-zero 60-year-olds (both women and men) who can project enough ‘you don’t mess with me’ to intimidate anyone (sounds better as ‘mushin’ in my karate master’s vocabulary).

    But all of that is besides the point. The point is that nobody should have to deal with shit like this in the first place.

  55. 55
    Q.E.D

    Just plain old disgusted so here is my modest proposal:

    Amend the second Ammendment to read:

    A well regulated militia Well armed women, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people women to keep and bear arms, and have a conceal and carry permit, shall not be infringed

    /flippancy

  56. 56
    MadHatter

    If being armed was a simple fix more women would do it. It’s not. I’ve take self-defense courses in the past and the first thing the teacher (ex cop in one case) says in answer to guns, is that unless you’ve really been trained to shoot someone (e.g. you’re ex military/police) you’re more likely to get shot yourself. The man is bigger, stronger, likely angry and more willing to be violent to begin with.

    More people standing up with women who are experiencing this is the only way I see to change it. It has to become truly socially unacceptable to act like this.

  57. 57
    Kate

    I am extremely lucky. I have never in my life experienced sexual harassment on this level or any other. I’ve never been yelled at, touched inappropriately, or even made to feel slightly uncomfortable by male colleagues. I’ve never been called a slut or bitch o cunt, not to my face, nor heard of it happening behind my back. One could say I haven’t been affected by it – they would of course be wrong.

    Because even with my “blessed” life, it still invades my psychology, and I have found myself wondering in the last few months as I began to shed pounds with a weight loss program how much more I want to lose , because the skinnier I am the more traditionally attractive, and the more vulnerable I feel to attacks of these sort.

    Even a woman living the most charmed life, you are still cursed with the knowledge that it could all be over at the whim of a man.

  58. 58
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Josh OSG:

    And cut off your damned tongue before you spew, “That’s life. .what did she expect.” Seriously. Cut it off before I do.

    Susie, I’d defriend as many of those d00dz as you can get away with. Because who needs that bullshit?

    Q.E.D, you obviously didn’t read the thread.

  59. 59
    Will

    If you really wanted to ward everyone off, read Atlas Shrugged.

  60. 60
    'Tis Himself

    If you really wanted to ward everyone off, read Atlas Shrugged.

    Every libertarian for kilometres around will end up sitting next to you.

  61. 61
    kain

    @#50

    But hey, much easier to pretend you’re not the type to harass women, because you’re a good guy, you’re not one of those loonies.

    Fucking pathetic.

    You think that guys who have never harassed a woman and don´t feel any urge to do so are “just pretending” and “fucking pathetic” ?

  62. 62
    kain

    @#11

    Do you have any recommendations for allies in such a situation? I don’t often know precisely what to do.

    Depends on the number of bystanders. If there are many bystanders, the likelihood that any of them will help the woman in trouble decreases, because no one feels responsible and everyone hopes that one of the other bystanders will intervene (there have been a lot of studies on this, it´s called the “bystander effect”). In such a situation, the best thing is to show initiative – ask some of the other bystanders for help, engage the harasser as a group and tell him to leave the woman alone.
    If you are the only bystander, it is hard to do something without endangering yourself – best thing might be to get ready to call the cops when the situation escalates.

  63. 63
    scenario

    I know what are you reading is lame but its not a crime to ask it. Once she says leave me alone, then he is out of line if he continues. Leave me alone can be said many ways.

    Saying the guy must be ill is a cop out. Yea, maybe 1 in a hundred are ill but the other 99 are just jerks.

    I never understood the sense of entitlement some guys have. I’ve always felt that all’s I’m entitled to is a polite no if she’s not interested.

    I really don’t know what I would do as the bystander in this situation. I’m a big guy but I’m not a fighter. I’d want to help but I don’t want to mess up and get both of us killed. I know I’d try to talk to her afterwards and tell her the guy was the jerk, not her. Some women have been trained to believe that everything is their fault and I don’t want to reinforce this unintentionally by doing nothing.

  64. 64
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    kain:

    You think that guys who have never harassed a woman and don´t feel any urge to do so are “just pretending” and “fucking pathetic” ?

    If I squint really, really hard and strain to see where you get this from the post by One Way Monkey @50, I can *almost* understand your response.
    However, I have no interest in trying to tweak or reinterpret the words she wrote through the lens of my personal experiences (because it’s clear she’s talking about the kinds of scumbags who *do* act this way).

    One Way Monkey
    Onamission5
    AnyBeth
    Elf Eye
    Giliell
    WithinThisMind
    skeptifem
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    the situations you’ve related are horrible and inexcusable.
    I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this shit.
    You didn’t deserve it.

  65. 65
    Anthony

    @11:

    I used to see this kind of thing all the time when I was riding the train to work. One incident involved a young, attractive woman and a slightly drunk older man. She was sitting across from me, and the man sat beside me and started in with some innuendo (One particular line that stood out was “I get off in 3 stops, want to help?”). She was visibly uncomfortable, but was handling the situation well; it seemed that she had lots of practice.

    I wrote a note on my tablet, and discreetly showed it to her: “I see what’s happening, and that you have it under control. I got your back if you need me.”

    She nodded, looking a bit relieved, and I went back to my reading. The situation didn’t escalate, thankfully, and both I and douchebag got off at the next stop.

    I don’t know if that was the right thing to do or not, and the young woman and I didn’t get a chance to talk about it, but it sure felt good.

  66. 66
    Stephanie Zvan

    Anthony, that was well and sensitively done.

  67. 67
    AJS

    Please don’t think for a minute that I am trying to excuse anyone’s behaviour, but it seems to me that we need to try to understand what makes men like that tick in order to stand any chance of stopping similar incidents in future.

    Where do certain men get the idea that propositioning a woman who is already busy doing something else, out of the blue, is not only acceptable; but that she is then under obligation to accept, and in the event of rejection the correct course of action is to repeat the request more peremptorily?

    It’s an awkward question; but if we don’t ask it, this sort of thing is only going to keep on happening.

  68. 68
    Stephanie Zvan

    AJS, if this is a new question to you, I’m going to strongly suggest you go do some reading on “rape culture”.

  1. 69
    Some days, it doesn’t pay to read the blogs | Pharyngula

    [...] familiar) story about a man who murders his ex-partner and children because she spurns him. Then Stephanie another horror story about the nightmare a woman suffered when she dared to tell a man [...]

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