Why we do this

Please take just a few minutes and read this. Now ask yourself one simple question: Would you have helped this woman?

Would you have said something or done something to defuse the situation? Would you have alerted the police? Or would you have just slunk down in your seat and pretended that it wasn’t actually happening?

If you answered yes, then you are One of Us. You have the courage and strength to provide help to a complete stranger in need. You are Backup.

If you answered no, then — to be blunt — you are part of the problem. You propagate the idea that not only is harassment acceptable, but that the person being harassed somehow “asked for it.”

To the which, we call bullshit. Nobody deserves to have somebody else screaming obscenities at them. Or making lewd comments. Or touching them if they don’t wish to be.

Nobody deserves that. Nobody asks for that. And, quite frankly, the rest of us should not stand for it.

Why do we do this? Because of that woman. And that’s all the reason we need.


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6 Responses to Why we do this

  1. Zelda says:

    Trains seem to be the same the world over. I will now drive 3 hours to Sydney and deal with the associated parking dilemmas instead of catching a train due to an experience similar to this which left me feeling very vunerable and scared – the only difference was my experience was actually another woman. Thankfully a “Stay AWAY from me, I dont want to see you” made her go away, but it still unsettles you and makes your fearful.
    I admire what you are doing…keep it up.

  2. J says:

    Yes I would have helped this woman, however you need to look at the situation more objectively.

    First off , on commuter rail there is no such thing as personal space. It just doesn’t exist. I rode trains, subways, and buses for over 10 years in NYC. You don’t get personal space. Fights break out when people try to ‘occupy’ seats next to them with their bags or briefcases in order to try to get some space. It’s uncomfortable, it’s prying into your space, you can’t ‘just be left alone’ because someone is always moving , poking, trying to get comfortable, or asking you for your ticket. Now deliberate harassment ? Yep that happens. It’s wrong, but so is any expectation of personal space on public transportation.

    Next the bicycle man. This person is clearly mentally ill. Guess what – you encounter them on public transportation all the time. Yes he attacked this woman – and someone should have called for help ( emergency call button at either end of the train car ) , or stepped up to help her out. However the truth of the matter is mentally ill people will go off on anyone. I was yelled at for ten minutes by a thwarted pickpocket on the 6 train about nazis and mind control. It wasn’t because I was pretty, or a woman ( I’m neither ) , it was because I was there. You can’t blame the ravings of a mentally ill person on public transportation exclusively on hating women. Sure he chose some pretty foul and direct words and was definitely in need of police assistance. What was the root cause though? Mental illness. Yes there are people who ‘hit’ on women in public, and sometimes take it too far. Yes they need to be reeled in. Screaming and yelling about killing people and dead family and flinging insults are not in this category.

    Finally before you pass judgement on people who don’t step in , think about it. Not everyone is qualified or able to challenge a mentally ill person in the middle of a meltdown. Just because a persons fight or flight instinct chooses flight in a dangerous situation does not mean they hate women nor that they support harassment. It could mean they don’t want to get stabbed, beaten, bit, or otherwise abused by a mentally ill person. Sure, hit the emergency call button – leave the car and search for help in the next car – do something … but don’t condemn a person for exercising common sense.

    • thatwordgrrl says:

      We’ve said this many times, but it clearly bears repeating. We do NOT believe that only women should be accorded help. Being accosted or harassed can happen to anybody. It does not have to be a reflection of “hating women.”

      Additionally, we did mention that you could alert the police or the conductor, rather than resorting to physical means. We are not passing judgment on somebody for choosing that way to help. We ARE passing judgment on people who make a deliberate choice to do nothing at all.

  3. J says:

    I forgot to mention … I’m a little concerned about the ” Real Man ” who stepped up and offered to help. She seemed to think that the offer to “beat up” total strangers for her made him a “Real Man”. Is violence really the answer to some people being bothersome? I know I have felt the urge to take a swing at a few people when I was commuting on public transportation, but I have this thing called self control. Is the meter of being a ” Real Man ” based on physical violence?

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