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I’ve had more experiences with sexual harassment than I can even count, but this one stands out in my mind in particular.
I was eighteen years old, taking the Metro from my apartment in downtown DC to New Carrolton to meet my sister. She needed help with a charity event that her non-profit organization was putting on, and I’d agreed to paint faces of the children in attendance.
It was about 10 am on a Sunday morning, so the train was pretty empty. The only other person on the car with me was a male, approximately 35 years old, about 5’10”, 180 lbs. He was wearing a dark red dress shirt, a patterned tie, and black slacks. I was sitting at the far end of the car, and he was sitting in the middle, talking on his cell phone.
He got on the car at Stadium Armory, but I’d been on since Foggy Bottom. For the first few minutes he sat down while talking on his phone, but then got up and started pacing the car. Every time he got to the end of the car where I was seated, he would linger, blocking the aisle from my seat, and leaning over me. This creeped me out, so I got out my phone and started texting my sister and my boyfriend so that I would look busy and he would hopefully leave me alone.
My seat faced the rest of the car. There was another bench in front of me facing the same direction, than a space for the doors, and a bench facing me. He sat down on that bench, so that he was facing me. I tried to keep my head down and look engrossed with my phone, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was staring at me.
I detected movement, so I glanced up for a second. He had his penis out and was masturbating, still staring at me, still talking on his phone. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I immediately felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable and unsafe. I didn’t know what this was going to escalate into, I felt endangered all alone on the train, and I wanted to cry.
I pressed the emergency intercom button that goes to the conductor which was right behind my head. The conductor asked what I needed, and I said that there was a man exposing himself on my car. At the next stop, the conductor came down to the car, but by that time the man had plenty of time to leave.
So, no police report or anything ever came of it.
About half an hour ago I got on the back of the Spadina Streetcar at Spadina Station. A short (5.6″) man wearing jeans and a dark jacket was sitting in an aisle seat. He followed me to the back of the streetcar, sat down, spread his legs with one on the seat in front of him and began touching his genitals through his pants while looking over at me. This only lasted a few seconds before I looked him in the eyes getting ready to yell. He saw the provoked expression on my face and took his hands of his crotch and put his legs in front of him. I kept looking at him until I was sure he would not begin masturbating. Other male passengers got on the back of the streetcar and this pervert kept his eyes off me and his hands at his sides.
This man got off at College Street. To add to the above description, he looked rough: his hair was messy and he had stubble. He also talked to himself at one point in a South Asian accent.
I chose not to call the police because my previous experiences of reporting to the police were not satisfactory. I have experienced sexual assault and harassment many times in Toronto. In one instance, after being assaulted by a group of teenage boys, I had the experience of being intimidated by a police officer as he took my statement in my apartment: he kept inching closer to me until I was pressed up against my oven feeling unsafe. On another occasion I had police show up 20 minutes after a 911 call even though there was a police station less than 5 minutes away. The two officers who showed up appeared not to have any training around sexual violence and could not give any information about witness safety to a woman who was experiencing partner violence and stalking. I had called 911 on behalf of this woman after I had tried to help her, and after her partner nearly hit us with his car.
Regarding the man on the streetcar today, if you see this man masturbating on the TTC do not let him get away with it. If he touching himself (for more than a few seconds as in my case) and there are people around I would yell at him and draw others’ attention to him. I would also tell the driver. If you feel comfortable dealing with the police then place a call to them right away before this man leaves the streetcar. I understand that some people would not feel comfortable yelling, in this case just tell the driver and/or call the police.
UGH!!!!!!!!!!!! Sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette only to look up and find a CREEP jerking off directly across the street from me under a street light! I told him “F*#$ off! I’m calling the cops!” Which I did. They didn’t find him.
While I was taking the E train home tonight at 10pm, I saw these two jerks jerking off in the subway. One of them came so close to me that when I realized what he was doing, I punched him really hard on the chest to push him away (surprisingly, my natural reaction) and started cursing at him. Of course, the bystanders just shake their heads and and stare. What is amazing is that one of them started justifying their actions by saying you can’t blame the poor man…blah blah blah…I was so shocked that I just started snapping pictures…One of them took off at Roosevelt Ave and the other followed me to the M train and started jerking off in front of two young girls sitting next to each other…So I went over and told him he better hide his ugly penis and told the girls to be careful of this jerk!
Today after I came out from the library one Turkish teenager passed a comment: “Wanna fuck!” I stopped there. I wanted to take him to the police. Three other friends joined him and started humiliating me. He told me: “I am a gay…and I fuck him everyday!” (showing his friend to me). Everyone started laughing. When I left the place they shouted: “I wanna fuck you!” I had this enough in my country. Why the fuck am I studying Gender?
My race, class, gender, ethnicity play major roles here in this context. How many times will I ignore this, how many time swill I just pretend that I didn’t hear? My ex-landlord and flatmate started masturbating in front of me….. How many times do I have to tolerate this?
The latest in one of so many of these situations was on my way home from Tufnell Park tube station. I walked past the pub just outside the tube where a man was smoking. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him look me up and down, make a noise of approval and decided the most appropriate comment was ‘ooo, ‘ello’. Lovely. I looked at him in disgust and carried on walking. I never like to reply to such people for fear of my safety even if it leaves me fuming.
One of the worst situations was coming home late at night from a party with 2 female friends, this was in Hales Place, Canterbury. A man on a bike came up level with us with his crown jewels in hand and started rubbing himself. He said ‘you girls look gagging for it’ and continued to follow us until he realised we wouldn’t give him a reaction.
Even when walking along holding hands with my 6 foot boyfriend doesn’t seem to put off some people. For example a car-full of teenage morons who decided to hang out of their windows, making rude gestures. On this occasion I decided to retaliate as not only did this offend me, but both of us as to sexually harrass a girl in front of her boyfriend just seems beyond rudeness. So I gave them the finger. Childish, but seemingly appropriate.
On a crowded downtown 6 train, filled with commuters going to work (around 9:40am on Feb 10, 2011). A man in his late 20-mid 30s, with an orange baseball cap, nerdy glasses and large black north face jacket masturbated on a woman’s back as she was reading the paper. He was standing behind her with his back against the closed door side of the train. His positioning makes me think he’s planned this out and executed this before. The train was silent, I looked around to make eye contact with another male because I felt uncomfortable speaking up for fear for my safety. She left the train and he, with a disappointed look on his face, scoured the train for other women to move towards. He looked at me and I shook my head in disapproval. He then left the train.
I never forget a face so if I see him again i will take a photo.
Submitted by ewoo
across my buierlding in lebanon beirut.. theres construction work going on.. i was standing on my balcony.. and the constructoin worker.. startd to masterbate… i no longer go outside.. h continues to watch into my apartment.. i have to hide in my own house… once on hamra street.. a man came from behind me and slapped my ass an continued walking off while lookin me in the eye.. with satisfaction that he had done that… many more… incidents which happen in lebanon beirut continue toh appen every day with th eamoun tof construction workers.. who come from foriegn countries.. cause what the fuck do they care if they harrass th elebanese woman.. and its not like i walk around naked in my house i live in a strict religious area.. of jnah .. sigh this needs to stop
Submitted by Lu
This happened about 5 years ago. I was going home by the subway, and after Yorkdale station, the cart became really empty, and there were just myself and an older (looked to be in his 60s) man in the cart.
He began by being rather grandfatherly (I was 19, but looked much younger), asking if I go to school, and how my summer was. He then asked if I had a boyfriend. I was rather confused and naive, so I just answered honestly, saying no, I do not. He then smiled really big, went “yeah?”, and proceeded to fondle himself through his pants. I was really scared at this point, but I was sorta paralyzed and just didn’t know what to do. Finally, the train pulled into Downsview station (last one on the line) and I just bolted out the door.
I didn’t tell anyone about this because I rationalized that it wasn’t a big deal, he didn’t touch me, and it’s not like I have any proof. Looking back at it now, I know I should have tried to get a conductor, but the fact that I had no proof still would make me hesitate to tell another stranger.
Another thing that really stuck with me about this incident is how small that man is. His dick was literally the size of my thumb. This information doesn’t have much relevance to the story, but I somehow remember it quite distinctly.
Submitted by Anne
I wanted to draw attention to this man in the photos, who was masturbating through his jeans pocket on the downtown B train. He was leaning against the doors and I was sitting down, so I was eye level with his penis when he had it out.
I had to get off at Atlantic Avenue but I managed to very blatantly snap these photos. I alerted the train conductor but the train was already leaving the station by the time I told him what happened. Hopefully, someone else can watch out for this guy.