Sally’s Story: “All male spaces where I am not welcome or safe”

I am sitting on a street car with my roommate, both of us women in our early twenties, recounting our day, and a man stands in the aisle behind us. The streetcar is nearly full, but not packed.

The man’s crotch grazes my arm. I suspect this is accidental, caused by the movement of the car and shift inwards a little, but the man continues to cause his crotch to make contact with my bare arm as the streetcar creeps to our destination. I shift so far inwards, that I am pressed against my roommate and twisted half sideways. She realizes what is happening and looks at the man disdainfully, he walks further down the streetcar.

I intermittently experience male sexual aggression on public transit in Toronto, making me feel like the Streetcar, the Subway and the Bus are all male spaces where I am not welcome or safe. Trapped in the small, confined cars as they move along streets and tunnels I almost never feel safe enough to say or do anything about it.