When harassment escalates

I was inspired by the woman featured on Jezebel, but frankly as a feminist I’m sorry to say that I regret standing up for myself.

I was in the car, my ID badge from work still on, then a young Latino teenager (I mention his ethnicity for a reason) asked me a question and started reaching into his pants and pulling out shoplifted objects. I walked away to the other side of the car. He yelled extremely vulgar insults across the car – “SIERRA CUNT WAS A WHORE IN HIGH SCHOOL! SHE SUCKS DICK!” making hand gestures. I thought to myself “Hey, if that girl can stand up to harassment so can I!” I ran towards him and said, in a very classy and calm, though strong voice “You can not speak to any woman that way! I’m going to follow you. This is harassment. I’m going to tell the police and the conductor” To which he replied “It’s free speech. I’m an American. You don’t even belong in this country, bitch” (I’m visibly Indian American). No one did anything. He continued to hurl insults at me for quite a while, then when he got off the train, I followed him.

Only to have him run back into the train as the doors closed, laughing and yelling “HAHA HAHA YOU FUCKING BITCH!”

My biggest fear, besides not saving face, is that I will be a total FAIL viral video. Worse, no one did anything. I really wish John Quinones from ‘What Would You Do?’ burst in to show everyone how their complacency sucks.

Worse, I blame myself. Why was the girl on the train with the flasher successful and I wasn’t? What could I have done, changed trains (I’ve never done it/am afraid to). I yelled to the conductor as the train went away but he just stared at me.

I don’t know what I should have done. PS – I’ve always stuck up for myself from ‘Eve teasers’, living in South Asia for two years. I feel as though I give off some pheromone that tells these creeps that they can mess with me and that they will ultimately feel dominant with their successful taunts.

Submitted by Saira

9 responses to “When harassment escalates

  1. Whoa, YOU are not the FAIL in this story. The people who did nothing are the FAIL. The conductor is the FAIL. Mostly this scumbag who harassed you is the FAIL. Regardless of the outcome, you stood up for yourself and that is pretty brave in my book.

    I’m sorry you were subjected to this dirtbag’s sexual harassment and his racist views (I’m sure he’s too stupid to see the irony). Please don’t be down on yourself. Not all stories will go the way of the subway story we’ve all heard about. Your story may not have had the same outcome, but maybe you inspired another woman on the train to not take crap the next time someone throws it at her. Or maybe one of the passengers will be more inclined to step in next time even though they didn’t this time.

    Seriously, you rock.


    You did the right thing. He only proved how much of a selfish asshole he was, and someday he’ll get what’s coming to him. You’re still inspirational, and I really hope this doesn’t stop you from standing up for yourself or others.

  3. You should be proud of yourself! I don’t know why no one else in the car joined in, possibly because they didn’t fully understand what was happening or felt that you had it under control. But you acted like a decent person, that kid acted like a sexist jerk. How on earth could u believe he won this one? And I’m sure Nicola stands up for herself ALL the time, and sometimes she gets congratulated for it, and sometimes she doesn’t. Keep at it.

  4. Well, you scared him enough to make him run away from you, so your move was partially successful. Of course I hope no more psychos pick on you, but if they do I hope you do pretty much what you did this time.

  5. I really hope you don’t regret standing up for yourself in the end, because it took so much bravery and it was the right thing to do! The encounters that go viral are important for awareness, but unfilmed events like yours may even be more crucial – your actions helped to make women standing up to these assholes less of an internet spectacle, and more of an everyday occurrence. Rock on!

  6. Goos job Sara.
    You did the right thing. In fact the guy probably felt guilty and did not know how to handle himself. That is why he was so obnoxious.
    He was also a coward and probably very nervous which is why he ran back in to the train.
    Score one for yourself, you were successful. The guy ran away.

  7. Hey this is amazing – I watch “What would you do” and I’d like to think that I would do the same thing you did! You’re making the first step to getting rid of assholes like those from our streets.

  8. I’ve been reading stories on this site today, and most of them seem to be stories of women who kept their heads down, didn’t do anything, and are reporting their harassment later. They all seem to have internalized some shame and feelings of violation.

    I, like you, have never stood for it. I’ve chased men down the street for groping me, yelling my head off and kicking at them; I’ve screamed at innumerable strangers on buses who pushed up against me or whispered disgusting things at me — one of whom actually took upskirt pictures with his phone while I sat across from him; I’ve chased men on bicycles with my cameraphone, etc. etc.

    MOST of the time, I don’t get ANY support from strangers around me. Sometimes, it’s even happened when I’m with friends and I didn’t get any support from my FRIENDS. Often, I’ve felt abandoned, alone, foolish.

    But what I have NEVER felt is ashamed, violated, or victimized. And THAT’S the point of standing up for yourself. It doesn’t matter what the people around you do or what your would-be violator does. It doesn’t matter if you succeed in shaming your would-be violator, or getting the right kind of video on YouTube. It doesn’t matter how your would-be violator feels about your response. All that matters is what YOU do and how YOU feel about it, and how it keeps you from being a victim.

    You did the right thing, even if he tricked you. You didn’t let him get away with it. And you’re better off than if you had done nothing.

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