Hi Holla Back,
The incident I’m writing to you about happened a few months ago. I wish I had known about your site at the time- I just read about it today on Jezebel. After reading through many entries on your website I decided to write in and tell what happened to me. My story is very similar to Sarah’s from December 4, 2009. I wonder if perhaps it was the same man.
I was commuting to work one morning last winter on the downtown W train between 59th and 23rd. The train wasn’t packed tightly, but it was rush hour so it was standing room only. I had a seat on the bench. I vaguely took note of a man standing a couple of feet away. Not sure why exactly, but I suppose subconsciously alarm bells were going off in my head. He wasn’t really dressed appropriately for the season, and he wasn’t carrying a bag or anything. He was wearing jeans and a very large baggy hooded sweatshirt with one of those kangaroo pockets in front. When the woman sitting next to me got off he immediately, very quickly, took her seat with his hands in the pocket of his sweatshirt, He sat there, just like that, with his hands on his lap in the pocket of his sweatshirt, the whole time. Out of the corner of my eye I observe his hands moving in his pocket. His head tilts back, his facial expression almost pained, and he moans several times very faintly. Now, a more experienced NYer would have seen this coming a mile ahead. I had only been in the city for about a year at that time and was still incredibly naive. As it slowly dawned on my stupid, sleepy, brain what was happening, I stood up, shocked, and waited by the door for my stop. Still reeling, I continued to observe him. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind he was masturbating. With an entire train of commuters around him. I look back and think what an idiot I was to have done nothing. I should have said something. I should have yelled. I should have taken a picture. I should have immediately gotten off the train and found a cop or told an MTA employee. But in that moment I felt totally powerless by the shock, disbelief, and humiliation. And somewhere in the back of my brainwashed-girl-head I didn’t want to embarrass HIM. What the fuck?! I have since observed this same technique of public masturbation on another occasion. I want the women of this city to be aware that this is happening. To know this is unacceptable. And to REACT.
I hope my story can help someone else. It took me far to long to realize what was happening, and I was so shocked by it I couldn’t act. I know better now. I’m going to pass along the link to your website to all my lady friends. Hopefully we can make a difference.
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