Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
I don’t even know where to begin with this story of mine, purely because of the sheer duration of time that I’ve been dealing with this. It started when I began using the MTC bus service to go to school everyday. Despite taking a bus at 7.30am, the route was very crowded and was filled with plenty of groping men. In fact, it seemed to me then, that those were the only types around.
It was very upsetting and back then, very shameful. I didn’t know who to talk to about this. I mean, from my point of view, I was doing nothing wrong or provocative. But my presence was enough to incite this activity toward me. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, because it seemed to me that there were a lot of women like me, suffering silently.
As I grew older, I decided to take things into my own hands. I got a little more brash while travelling by bus. I pushed, shoved, elbowed, and yelled my way through the 10-minute bus ride from home to school. I remember a bus ride back from school. Term exams were on and we all left early. The bus back was very empty and there were maybe five other people standing. I noticed someone stand very close to me and he kept exaggeratedly leaning whenever the bus turned. He did it once, and I let it go, I thought he had trouble balancing himself. He did it again, I let it go. The third time, however, I pushed him and his fall was not exggerated.
That’s when some passengers noticed and one of the older women sitting down gave me her seat. Of course, he was not happy that a school girl pushed him. Nor was he happy that people took notice of it and sided with me. He got off the bus a couple of stops after and I reached home without any further incidents.
After that incident, I was a lot more confident about dealing with the groping variety. Despite my new-found bravado, an overcrowded bus was one place I was utterly helpless in. I still am utterly helpless on an overcrowded bus.
There are times when I feel that there is nothing much you can do, but I don’t see the point in women resigning themselves to being harassed.
I don’t understand why proactive steps are not being taken towards making public transport the one public space where people can travel without the fear of being harassed. I know for a fact that going to the police with a harassment complain will only yield one result, you’ll get blamed.
It’s ridiculous that women choose silence. It’s ridiculous that the very same silence is justified with “what’s the point?”
I know that harassment won’t stop, but if there is something to be done about it, now is as good a time as any to begin!
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