I scurried onto the packed train as reckless elbows jabbed into my ribs. As I found a space, the train juddered off. I stabilized my grip on a pole as the swaying carriage snaked ahead. Two stops later, it screeched to a halt as passengers hurried off.
In a brief moment, a pair of hands clasped my hips from behind. Fingertips slithered lightly down the sides of my thighs. Something distinctly hard rubbed against me as the hands remained in place. Before I had time to react, the man brushed past me to exit.
Perplexed, I reassured myself that I must have been mistaken. Such a thing could not happen in daylight. Not in such a public place. Not with such fervent audacity.
Glancing up, the man stood outside the train doors. He was young, well dressed, decent looking, and stared daringly at me. With a smile, he made a motion suggestive of oral sex on a woman, right before the train doors closed.
Anger, disgust, and violation still fizzed in my stomach when I met my two friends. After I told them what happened, they both promptly burst out laughing. One remarked, “That guy is my hero. This was the ultimate thug life!”
The other quipped, “Well, what do you expect? You have long legs and you’re wearing a short dress with heels.” I peered down at my dress. I did not consider it was short; it was at knee level.
Everyone else I told, laughed. In due time, I was able to recognize my own overreaction and identify that there are instances when it is appropriate to touch a stranger (man or woman) in public, with a sexual connotation.
1. Comedic factor
When with friends, a person may experience heart palpitations with that overwhelming responsibility of keeping their associates entertained. Increased heart activity leads to symptoms such as light-headedness and breathing difficulties. Often, the only medical remedy is to grab the nearest person of the opposite sex in a way, provocative enough, to elicit laughter.
(Bonus comedy points if the victim reacts or does not. Thus, bonus points either way).
2. Chill factor
It was just a bit of fun. No need to overreact. Just chill out!
3. Alcohol factor
He/she was just a little tipsy. Insert “chill factor”.
4. Club / Bar factor
Combine 1, 2, 3. Cram into a space that is half the size of the people it should be accommodating. Rinse and repeat.
According to the United Nations, 92% of women reported having experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces in their lifetime. Some will read that, mutter about the travesties of the world, and then carry on with their day with no further action or thought. Others may conclude that these figures are more reflective of none-Western countries, and then carry on with their day with no further action or thought.
In 2016, ActionAid conducted a survey on street harassment in various countries. The findings attested that 79% of women in India, 86% in Thailand, and 89% in Brazil were subjected to harassment or violence in public. It also revealed that 75% of women in London experienced similar.
In another survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, all American women interviewed experienced street harassment. Alarmingly, 84 percent “consider changing their behavior to avoid harassment.”
But what do such statistics suggest? The recent US presidential campaign was marred with sexual misconduct allegations on both sides, namely Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, yet it was of no consequence. It climaxed into being an online, viral joke. Have we become so acclimatized to sexual misconduct that we simply allow, condone or laugh about it?
And would the “chill factor” still resonate as amusingly if was your daughter, sister or mother? Or perhaps simply, it was the girl. What did she expect? She had long legs and was wearing a short dress with heels.
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