New submission from N
In May I was sexually harassed on public transit several times within a week, one of those times a man very pointedly put his finger right on my clit when I was trying to prevent myself from losing my balance during a sudden break. After almost five months on my bike, I was back on transit on Saturday night and got a big welcome back with yet another sexual harassment incident.
I wore my thrifted, beautifully fitting, bright red coat that night. As I put it on I thought to myself, do you really want to wear this coat? I recalled having identified that it seemed to bring more attention to me last winter, both welcome and unwelcome. But it is warm and I like it, and we were maybe going to be hit with a typhoon so, fuck it, I should be able wear whatever I want.
Sitting on the bus in the back seat, looking out the window, lost in thought. Suddenly a man enters into my space demanding my attention. Talking about ladies in red. Calling me archetypal. He notices the pins I wear in my coat to close the collar on windy nights. He stares intently, almost touches them. Starts talking about how if I was smart I’d learn how to pin them through each other so no one could undo them. He was in the army, so he knows these things? He then comes right into my space, uncomfortably close, centemeters, millimeters it seems from touching me, encircling me, closing me in, demonstrating how I need to protect myself from the ‘Trumps’ of the world who would try to accost me. I told him I would elbow the Trumps and put my elbow up to his chin to create a barrier as he continued to box me in. He told me that I wouldn’t be able to stop him, if he was a Trump. I told him I felt uncomfortable. He backed away from me a little bit, and kept with his verbal trajectory, talking about how I need to protect myself from sexual assault, that there would be nothing I could do to stop it. Truthfully, I’m unclear what he was saying at this point, reality gets a bit slippery and distant in these moments. Adrenaline. Fight or flight. I considered changing seats, but I decided to stand my ground. Having decided that, I momentarily faltered, unsure what to do next.
I’m happy to report that someone had my back tonight. Nobody else acknowledged this was happening or made eye contact, except for one woman who intervened. ‘She told you that she feels uncomfortable,’ she said to the man. He moved a seat away from me and kept talking, staring at me. It’s kind of hazy, but I think she repeated ‘she told you she feels uncomfortable.’ To which he replied ‘that’s why I backed away.’ But his energy continued. Together we made it clear that his overatures were not welcome. We may have told him to stop?
He suddenly filled with rage. Started yelling. He told me to fuck off. Yelled that he was trying to protect me. I responded that he told me that there was nothing I could do to stop a man from sexually assaulting me (besides to learn how to pin my clothes shut in a way a man can’t undo). He stormed away, presumably pissed at the bitches, not realizing that, in my mind, he is one of the Trumps of the world. What he had just done to me was an invasion and a threat. It’s a mind fuck how he used the the example of women being assaulted by Trump as an excuse to accost me in a sexualized manner under the pretense that he was trying to protect me.
I would like to ride the bus without having to navigate the threat of sexual assault. I demand it.