I Got Sexually Harassed Thursday


Content Warning: Explicit Talk of Sexual Harassment.

I’m six foot tall, 250 pounds, AMAB, masc-looking with a big white beard at the moment.  But I got full-on sexually harassed yesterday on the bus.  Leering, repeated explicit come-ons, not accepting rejection, a weird racial element, and being unwillingly exposed to a stranger’s penis.  This is a new experience for this 43-year old,  and that novelty probably has some of my AFAB readers feeling jealous.  I didn’t feel like my life was in danger, but on the way home from the bus I did look over my shoulder to see if I was being followed.

There was a bit of foreshadowing to this experience.  Within the last week on the bus, a drunk lady who may have been trying to hook on me dropped a come-on line that was verbatim the sort of thing men often tell women.  “I just wanted to tell you I think you’re cute… I’m not bothering you, am I?”  To that I said, “Thank you, no bother, I just prefer to listen to my headphones in the morning.”

Why am I so irresistibly hot right now?  I guess with the beard I’m kind of a bear.  And I’m more stylish for the office than I was for the mega-retailer.  But the A.M. drunk lady was the first time I could remember hearing anything overtly positive about my appearance in over ten years.  (I used to catch a few smiles from fellas and ladies back in my 20s, which was nice.)   I had my doubts about her motives, but it was almost pleasant for me.  That did not prepare me for the dude who was sleazing on me last night.  I didn’t do anything about it and probably will not (unless I see that guy again), except tell him to chill out or he’ll get himself arrested, on my way the hell out the door.

I don’t know how I felt about this.  At first there was bewilderment and amusement, but there’s a lingering sensation in my head I’d like to get rid of.  I’m a little disturbed.  At no point did I fear violence, and yet?  My body is kind of reacting like I did.  I’m taking a sick day.  I’d rather not take the same bus home at night within 24 hours of that experience.

But I will almost certainly get over this, and soon.  It is not part of a pattern of abuse that preceded puberty for me, unlike the experience many AFAB people have to contend with.  That may make it a little more of a shock at the moment, but it doesn’t feel like society affirming its fundamental disrespect for my bodily autonomy, like an atom in a sea of degradation that defines my life.

Moral of the story?  Public transit sucks.

Comments

  1. says

    I did end up reporting it to the transit police today. Foreseeing the boss might see this as an attempt to make this a four day weekend rather than a legit mental health day, I’m trying to do a police report I can submit for evidence.

  2. Ridana says

    There have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve seen people who just left me thuderstruck with how attractive they were. One was an older man (late 40s-early 50s, with a lot of silver) who I saw at the edge of the parking lot while walking to work. He was incredibly handsome and had a quiet elegance just standing there. It was really hard not to stare at him, especially standing next to him waiting to cross the street.

    The other was a teenage boy on light rail, hanging out with his friends. The exact opposite of the other guy, dressed like a fashionably tattered skateboarders with shaggy hair, but with the sweetest face and a easy, comfortable manner that was almost tangible. If I were a casting or modeling scout, I’d have given him my card.

    Sometimes when I see people that are so striking in one way or another, it really is hard to resist offering up a hit-and-run (so they won’t think I’m about to pounce them) compliment, but I know all too well how unwelcome it would be, and I’m not egotistical enough to think it would make their day. But sometimes it does make me a little sad that we can’t just tell strangers something nice about them (I’m afraid to even compliment someone’s hair or shoes), because most people have some sort of agenda behind their words, and when coming from people “too old” or “ugly” or whatever, will just be perceived as creepy at best, especially if seen as sincere.
    .
    Now your experience is well beyond that, and I’m so sorry it happened to you. Reporting it seems like a good idea, as you might not be the first or last of his targets. Hopefully transit cameras can back you up and help them find him. In any case, I hope the time off will help you process this.

  3. says

    Thx for well wishes. My region is working on becoming as much as a surveillance state as the UK, so probably there’s pretty good footage of the misdeeds. And the cop that took my report says they are putting more effort into making headway on the sexual harassment cases on buses – that they do pull the video to look at. They have an ad campaign about it – probably a reaction to some bad PR. Not sure the background there.

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