HOLLA ON THE GO: “Harassed by two different guys…”

I was sexually harassed on the train on my way to class today. Not by one but by two men and at the same time. One invaded my space, asked me if I was married, asked how old I thought he was, tried to give me a hug, etc. What I thought was a typical annoying conversation turned worse after he said: “look that guy has a gun” and then kissed my cheek after I instinctively turned my face to see where he was pointing. Just before this, a man sat a few seats away and told me what a beautiful smile I had after I laughed out loud at something I was reading on my phone. He followed me as I moved to the very end of the train hoping to get away from the kisser. He kept staring. Mumbling to himself as I tried to look busy on my phone. A guy that sat in the back the entire time said “good luck” as he got off at his stop. All of this activity happened between the Target Field and US bank stations…a mere 5 minutes or so. The conductor waved to me after I got off the train (this never happens) and was likely fully aware of what happened because I was sitting right behind his door.

Sexism and sexual harassment are very real. When it happens to me I assume I wore too much makeup that day, was smiling too much, etc. and was ‘asking for it’ even though I know that doesn’t matter or give anyone reason to do or say anything to me because of my gender. I even worry about sharing this will ensue unwarranted judgment or doubts from people. But today was different. I did nothing. I got on the train, sat down, looked at my phone, and was then inundated with this crap.

I was pretty shocked and had to go straight to class, a gender and intersectionality leadership course. I shared my experience with a few classmates because it felt like possibly the safest group of people to see after such an experience. But it didn’t really hit me until I went home and tried to use my headspace app and couldn’t stop thinking about how I had reacted. I was mad that I didn’t react stronger and didn’t tell them all off. But proud that I did say “you’re invading my space” and “I’m a stranger to you, no you cannot give me a hug.” But I didn’t feel like I could do anything else and still feel safe. If I yelled at them and embarrassed them then they would have gotten mad and I didn’t want to test that out considering I was outnumbered.