This happened about a week ago, but it still bothers me that I didn’t do anything. Actually, I was so caught off guard that I didn’t know what to do.
Anyway, it’s around 5:30pm and I’m making my way to Union Station, as usual. As I make my way down the escalator I hear a bunch of commotion. I hear, “You’re so beautiful! Are you on Top Model? You’ve gotta be on Top Model!” At the end of the escalator, near the fare machines, these three men, INCLUDING A METRO EMPLOYEE, are surrounding this young woman and I can tell she’s NOT flattered by the attention. In fact, I can see she’s mortified. They’re surrounding her asking all this questions when one of these “gentlemen” whips out his camera and asks to take her picture! Not a picture with her, but a picture OF her, like she’s a damn exhibit or something. The man in question says, “I just have to get a picture of how beautiful you are so I can tell my friends I met you.”
The young woman mumbles a “thank you” to their “compliments” and then turns away to put money on her SmarTrip card. She never gives him permission to photograph her. However, he proceeds to take her picture anyway, even with her back turned. Ugh!!!!
At this point, I’m mortified and angry for her, because I don’t know what to do, given that A METRO EMPLOYEE WHO IS USUALLY STATIONED AT UNION STATION is a part of this foolishness.
I told a friend about it later, and she said the best way to help the young lady would be to walk up to her and engage her in conversation and try to get her out of the vicinity and to a safe space. As a social worker, she’s seen incidents in which someone will say to the attacker, “What the hell are you doing! Leave her alone!” The attacker will then respond and say something like, “Mind your own business!” and take the situation to the next level. She said in her experience, the best thing to do is go up to the victim and say “Hey, you need some help? Come take a walk with me.”
I’m pissed because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen men act like they are entitled to your presence. I’ve seen plenty of men take pictures or film women they don’t know and then pass said footage around like it’s no big deal. I want to know what to do the next time this happens (and it WILL happen) and how I can help someone who’s being violated?
Submitted by T on 4/5/10
Location: Union Station Metro