“All she had to do was say, ‘No.’”
That’s how I started a post almost a year ago. At the time, I was appalled that we’d been talking about an incident in a Dublin elevator for nearly three months. (Oh, my naivety, where have you gone?) The post used a different incident, well outside the atheosphere, to demonstrate how what happens in an elevator doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
This post is for everyone who has told me that if I were just clearer about my boundaries that guys would back off or that women just aren’t clear enough about expressing their discomfort.
That wasn’t the problem. It’s almost never the problem, but rather, a symptom. And now, nearly a year later, we have another woman sharing an incident that demonstrates exactly the same thing.
A seemingly normal man enters the train with his bicycle. At this point I am three rows from the front of the car, another man was sitting near the back of the car, and the rest of the car is empty. Bicycle Man walks halfway down the row, and settles into the seat directly opposite me. Perfect, I think. Twice in one night.
It’s not the first time I’ve been bothered multiple times. As such, I’m still amped from the teenagers on the first train. So when this man leans across the aisle into my personal space and asks me, yes, what are you reading, I assertively but calmly tell him to please leave me alone, I am reading. The man stands up, moving to the front and muttering angrily over his shoulder that it isn’t his fault I’m pretty.
Yes. Exactly that. I am the bad person in this situation because somehow this is all my fault. I started this by being attractive. I am making a mental note to bitch about this to my friends later. I go so far as to write it down so I know I’m remembering it properly.
It is at this exact moment I realize Bicycle Man is not taking it well.
Some of you know just how badly this could go, particularly in an enclosed space like a train. For you, I’ll point out here that the woman writing this was not physically injured. The rest of you, go find out what the basic problem is. See what entitlement looks like when it’s denied.