posted in: Buses | 5

So, I am feeling a little guilty about this and would appreciate the Holla Back community’s take. There was a gentleman sitting behind me on the bus this weekend who started out just being friendly/polite, asking me to let him know if the window near us being open bothered me. I didn’t really say much, but smiled and responded, etc. Then he started whispering in a low voice in a tone that sounded pretty lascivious to me and I could have sworn I heard him say “Ooh, you’re going to get me hard.” Well, of course I found that totally inappropriate and unlike usual I was feeling assertive (not to mention duped that I thought he’d been polite), so I snapped “Hey, I don’t appreciate your talking to me like that.” He said, “What? I didn’t say anything to you.” “I don’t appreciate your whispering at me like that,” I said, not backing down.

He kind of sputtered and said, “No, I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about my sandwich. It gives me heartburn.” So I realized I had misheard him, and probably embarrassed him because who likes to be called out for talking to themselves? Of course that’s why he lowered his voice, he wasn’t trying to address anyone. The bus wasn’t too full, but in a way I felt bad that other patrons viewed him that way as well. Then again I am sort of bothered that since the bus was not that full at no point did the driver intervene or ask if I was being bothered, etc. I’m not sure what I should have done differently. I was getting off in a stop or two so I just didn’t say anything else. At the time, I was already too riled up about thinking I had been harassed to backpedal. Maybe I should have chosen a tactic of asking the offender to repeat himself so at least that gives him an opportunity to stop, and gives me an opportunity to make sure I haven’t misunderstood.

On the one hand, I get muttered and yelled at so often and I *don’t* respond, so the times I do I don’t want to immediately afterwards turn into this meek little thing that says “I’m sorry, you’re right, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Part of me thinks he should know better than to just start whispering within earshot of someone else in a public place, and that men should go out of their way to make sure they aren’t making women nearby uncomfortable. But I also shouldn’t blame the behavior of a few rotten assholes (who I encounter in the same situations and tend to be of the same age/demographic) on this otherwise pretty well-intentioned man. Thoughts??

Submitted by anonymous

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5 Responses

  1. Renee

    “I was talking to my sandwich”?? Wow. Doesn’t sound the least bit plausible, but who would make up a lie that ridiculous?? I can see your dilemma here 🙁 Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not like talking dirty to one’s meal is such a common occurrence that you should have thought of it before saying something!! If the guy is cool, and not a perv with a bad excuse, he’ll probably have a good laugh with his friends about this i.e. “that’ll teach me to eat on the bus! he he he”

  2. cathy

    i love talking to myself; i have a horrible memory and it’s my best way to cope and remember things. also, i think i’m pretty hilarious.

    but i don’t talk to myself on transit so people don’t think i’m trash-talking them. that’s something you learn as a little kid. you did the right thing, hopefully he realized he was behaving in a way that could be construed badly and that’s his problem, not yours.

  3. Nigerian Sista

    Wow. Well he could have been possibly lying , or he may have not been. I guess it’s up in the air. But either way you’re not at fault for saying something to him. This is whay happens when women are continously street harassed, you become more aware of your surrounding and your senses sharpen. Either way I feel it is better to be safe than sorry becuase if he was being weird he knew not to go any further.

  4. Janna

    You can say “Oh, sorry” without being meek.

  5. Muk

    That is the kind of thing harassers do ALL THE TIME when confronted.

    Last year about this time, some guy was making sucky-licky faces at me and when I confronted him about it, he said he was just drinking his soda. Seriously.

    Then a few weeks ago, this guy wouldn’t leave me alone at the metro despite me telling him to leave me alone repeatedly and she he cornered me and I shoved him away because he was getting threatening, I get the whole “you’re the crazy overreacting one” song and dance again.

    It’s a whole big thing that manipulators do to make us feel bad for standing up for ourselves. Don’t let that dude trip you up and make you feel worse than the original harassment!