Metro Follower

A younger male got on the train and decided to sit next to me even though there were plenty of empty seats. I had on my headphones, but he started to talk to me anyway. He kept asking my name so I finally took out my headphones and told him my first name only (in my best I’m not talking to you voice). I thought maybe he would stop talking if I answered his question. Boy was this the wrong move. He kept talking even though I put my headphones back in. Then he picked up my hand and tried to kiss it. I pulled away and thankfully we were approaching a stop, so I asked him to move and left the train car. He started to follow me (even though he only got on at the previous stop). I hung back on the platform and let him walk ahead. Just before the doors closed, I jumped back on the train. This kind of harassment is crazy and I shouldn’t have to put up with it when I just want to get home from work in peace. Who knows what he would have done if he continued to follow me.

Submitted by M on 11/30/2009

Location: On the Red Line, near CUA

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5 Responses

  1. Golden Silence

    Is this the same guy from the “Metro Stalker” story? The actions sound very similar.

    Do not feel the need to be polite to these men. They aren’t deserving of your time. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, don’t. Don’t indulge personal information to them. If they sit next to you and make you feel uncomfortable, excuse yourself and move to another seat. If they follow, call Metro police (or if you’re on a train, press the red button).

    Don’t give these men power they don’t deserve.

  2. Jay

    Amen, Golden Silence.

    How many more stories are we going to read where a woman felt compelled to be polite to a creepy stranger with no sense of boundaries or propriety, only to have the harasser take it to yet another uncomfortable level?

    If we do, it won’t be long before we read another one of the stories where the situation escalates to a chilling moment.

    Person asked your name? So what, is it quiz time on the Metro and strangers are giving you a work or school evaluation? Don’t answer. What, you’re afraid he’ll get hostile? He already is. Cut off contact and leave the area.

    Person grabs your hand and tries to kiss it? What? How did this person manage to even lift your hand anywhere near his face in order to come close to kissing it? Why wouldn’t you have recoiled immediately, held your hand down close to your person, and YELLED “DO NOT TOUCH ME, GET AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW or I am calling Metro Transit Police GET AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW.”

    I am not trying to sound judgemental. I am a male ally of this site and every victim here. As a gay man, I’ve encountered some creepy situations myself. You need to protect yourself, women: do NOT indulge these creeps for a single word or moment.

  3. Golden Silence

    How many more stories are we going to read where a woman felt compelled to be polite to a creepy stranger with no sense of boundaries or propriety, only to have the harasser take it to yet another uncomfortable level?

    I think the problem is that we women are raised to be polite, and that’s our downfall in dealing with harassment.

    I’ve dealt with a lot of crap in life, and from that I’ve become, for lack of a better term, a “rude” person. I don’t care about hurting strangers’ feelings. When I’m with my mother or with female friends, and a random guy says something in the lines of “Ooh, girl, you so pretty” or something like that, I respond with “Like I care what you think about me.” That in turn causes my friends, mother, or whatever woman I’m with to say, “Accept his compliment! Why did you have to be nasty to him?” Why do I have to be polite to that man? Did I ask for him to say anything to me? I’m grateful I’ve become “rude” because it has protected me so many times.

    I had a situation similar to these Metro Stalker/Follower stories, where the bus was nearly empty and a very overweight man sat next to me, squishing me up against the window. The fact that he sat next to me on a nearly empty bus put my red flag up.

    Though I didn’t excuse myself to get away from him (in retrospect I wish I did), I did use my words.

    “Ooh, you so [sic] pretty,” he said.
    “And you’re ugly,” I said. People looked at me in shock that I insulted him, instead of wondering why he was bothering a woman who didn’t want his attention.
    “I’m gonna get your number,” he said.
    “No you’re not,” I snapped.
    “Then I’ll give you mine,” he said.
    “Are you stupid?” I said. “I don’t want your number, I think you’re disgusting, and I want you to leave me the hell alone!”

    The fact that this man had no respect for my wishes was aggravating. Had I responded to him in the “polite” manner lord knows what he would’ve done. Thank god he got off at the next stop, but not without a “I’ll see you around.”
    “No, you won’t!” I said.

    I think women need to start saying “NO!” to these men more often. When you go home and look in the mirror who will you see, will you see that man or will you see your own reflection? Of course you’ll see your own reflection—that is the person whose feelings should matter the most.

  4. cathy

    i for one really appreciate the support and comments from male allies, but i want to put these women’s stories in a bit more context for you. hopefully that will help you understand why they react the way they do to harassment.

    women are taught from a young age the relative merits of appeasement. don’t bait bullies. sit back and take it, they’ll go away. girls don’t fight. like it or not, girls aren’t taught to defend themselves or even have the confidence to project the attitude that they could.

    particularly for a woman alone without witnesses, she’d rather talk than face violence. it’s not a perfect world, and most women out of fear of consequences will tolerate behavior they shouldn’t have to tolerate.

    the whole point of sexual harassment is power and the threat of violence – i own you, i can take you if i want to. the simple act is meant to remind women that they are subject to the will of men. and damned if it doesn’t still work, because much of the time if it came to blows these women might not stand a chance.

    and so, in the name of avoiding violence, women will appease. it’s a choice, it’s an ugly choice in an ugly situation, but let’s keep in mind what anyone who’s taken a self-defense class learns first and foremost: the important thing is to survive.

    any harassment is a battle for women’s bodies as property, and it carries with it the quiet threat of violence and rape – it sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. these women choose what they need to do to get out of these situations, and sometimes appeasement can seem like the best way.

  5. Keira

    @Jay: I have been “rude” towards men who have harassed me, and it quickly escalated into violence. This was fine since I can hold my own in a fight even against men, but not all women are physically able to do this. Women must be careful how they react in these situations. If the guy is especially cowardly, then being rude might do the trick, but if the guy is more of the alpha male type, then being rude will only make him more aggressive.