I was on my way to London, sitting on a carriage by myself when a group of 10 men (I guess they were in their 20’s) came and sat on the row of seats in front of me. I ignored the fact they were incredibly loud, chanting to one another, shouting and play fighting. At one point they nearly fell on top of my seat but didn’t seem to care. After a few minutes, they started to calm down. So, I decided to pop my headphones in, listen to my music and blank it out.
About 20 minutes into the journey, I noticed at the corner of my eye that one-half of the group were staring at me. I couldn’t see the other half as they were sitting on the seats in front of me. I ignored, avoided eye contact and carried on. I will not that my headphones don’t block out all of the background noise. Plus, surprising to the man sitting in front of me, don’t block out all of my eyesight. Who would’ve thought *enter sarcasm*? So the man in front of me decided to ‘casually’ take photos of me and try and get a good glimpse at me. All I could see was his phone camera reaching over his seat and pointing down at me. This happened about 5 times. He then decided to directly keep leaning over from his seat to stare at me. I removed my headphones, confused if what I saw was really what I actually saw. I then heard the men rating me on a scale of 1-10 and deciding if they would ‘do me’ or ‘get with me’. Clearly, he had sent the photo to his friends, as some were rating me but were not in a physical position to even see me. My eye contact with those I could see didn’t deter them to stop. This lasted for about 5 minutes, with it the intensity of the situation escalating over time. 5 minutes may seem a short amount of time, but it felt like a very long time. Especially because they were conspicuous about what they were saying/doing. They clearly knew that I could see and hear them.
I was shocked and highly embarrassed by the horrible attention I was experiencing. What’s worse is that I had no clue how to react in this situation. I imagined that if I reacted and said something back, I would’ve made the situation worse for myself. Remember, there were 10 of them and 1 of me. Plus, I was on a carriage by myself.
So I decided that I would change carriage. Instead of doing this straight away I waited for the train operator to say the next stop and then I would move to the nearest exit. When I got to the door, the door stupidly was broken. This was with thanks to the men on the train during their ‘play fighting’. So, I had to walk past them to get to the other door. One of the men decided to stand up and block me as a ‘joke’ which was very intimidating. He completely invaded my personal space and wouldn’t move for a couple of minutes. I asked him multiple times if he could “please move/let me through”. Me asking nicely and him clearly seeing me get upset wasn’t enough to stop him. When he decided to move all of the men started chanting at me.
I met my friend on the other side and explained what happened. She said, “why didn’t you report it?” My issue was with ‘how do I prove this happened?’ And ‘is it worth reporting?’ If I wanted to report something to a member of the authority, I always felt that I would need to prove it happened with witnesses or some sort of physical evidence. To which I had none. Or I felt that I would be accused of being too sensitive or have the statement ‘boys will be boys’ or it’s just ‘lad culture’ thrown at my face.
So what on earth are you meant to do in this situation? What could I have done? Am I over-reacting with being annoyed and upset about my experience? Does this count as a type of harassment? I have no idea.
However, I do have the freedom to write what I want on this blog and will say a few things to the men from that train:
1. F*** you.
2. I didn’t deserve that treatment. Nobody does!
3. How would you feel if you saw someone treating your mother/sister/daughter like that?
4. You are a species that deserve to be placed onto a different planet. But not the moon, I don’t want you ruining a perfectly good view.
5. I never asked you to rate me and I don’t care that I don’t fit into your type of “fit bird”.
6. If I plucked a majority of the population to watch what you did, you wouldn’t be labelled ‘cool’.
7. You wouldn’t ‘do me’ because I’m not your type, but because I would never give you permission to touch me. I’d rather bathe in cactus thorns.
8. I worry that you have the opportunity to reproduce. No seriously, I’m concerned.
Their behaviour reminded me of the stupid ‘lad culture’ that existed at University. And what I don’t understand is that there are so many topics of conversation you can choose from. But, why does making someone feel so uncomfortable have to be your choice? Also, why don’t I have the confidence to label this as harassment? Or was it even harassment? My head is just spinning with so many thoughts that everything becomes unclear.