I wasn’t able to take a photo, but wanted to write about a recent experience of subway harassment anyway because, as they say, third time’s a charm. I’m referring to the fact that I was recently confronted for the third time in the last decade with a passive aggressive pervert jerking off on the subway, and I finally reacted in a way that I feel good about.
More on that in a minute, but the first thing I want to mention is that each of the three asshats who felt it necessary to flog their flabby little phalluses on public transit were all different in terms of age (one in his early twenties, one seemed to be in his late thirties, and one seemed to be solidly middle-aged, has kids in high school range), geography (one was on the D train in Coney Island, one on the F train not far from Park Slope, and one on the MBTA in Boston) and ethnicity (two were white, one was a man of color), but despite their differences they each wore the exact same sickening, sweaty and totally smug, “what’s getting me off is you being uncomfortable” stare as they groped themselves while trying to lock eyes with me. The smugness is what stood out the most each time — as if what was sexually gratifying to them was women’s inability to stop this harassment.
Anyway, when this happened again it took me totally by surprise, because while I often deal with street harassment whenever I’m in Manhattan and often in various parts of Brooklyn, I’ve almost never dealt with it in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Here’s what went down. I was standing at the bottom of the steps on the F train platform at 6:30, lots of other people on the platform but no one else near me at the bottom of the stairs. I heard someone from the top of the staircase call out, a “Psst” kind of sound. Instinct caused me to look up the stairs, where I saw a middle aged man beating off, smiling that same smug smirk I remembered from the last two guys I saw do this on subways. My initial five-seconds-after reaction was to instantly turn away, really startled, somewhat frightened and incredibly angry. After those five seconds, though, I realized that this guy had no power over me other than in his mind, and if I didn’t react in a way that took my power back, I’d be mad about it all night, maybe longer. So, I turned back around, looked directly at him and screamed, “Fuck you, asshole! Who do you think wants to see that?” He froze, a fearful dear-in-the-headlights look passed over his face, and he dropped his dick as if it were all of a sudden burning his hand. A second later, he turned and ran away, while I screamed after him, “Yeah, you better run away! Run away like the sad, pathetic, small-penised pervert you are!”
I instantly felt better.
Submitted by Jennifer P.