Being harassed on translink is so common that I’ve almost internalized it as “normal.” Since I started regularly taking public transit at age 14, I’ve been touched in an unwelcome manner, received comments about my “nice ass,” and yelled/sworn at when I spurn a man’s advances. There are tons of “close sitters” who sit right next to me even if the bus is almost empty. This one time, I was taking the 555 late at night and literally the ONLY OTHER PERSON in the bus is a creepy guy who sits right next to me. I move, sit down, he calls me a bitch/cunt/whore, and the bus driver doesn’t do anything. When I was sitting down, a guy standing next to me has taken the opportunity to shove his crotch in my face, and lean in even further when the bus makes a turn. Twice, a guy started to “fall asleep” sitting next to me, lean his head on my shoulder and his hand “accidentally” fell onto my breast or thigh. The most common occurrence is when a guy is chatting with me or asks me on a date, and I’m not interested and he calls me a cunt/bitch/whore/slut/dyke, you name it.
One time, I was sitting on the skytrain with a friend and an old man started asking us if he knew any jokes. We said no, and so he told us some jokes. He seemed pretty okay until he said he “just got outta jail” and that he was just on his way back from registering his handgun, a Smith & Wesson which could “knock anything down” *creepy eye*. He then started making some passive aggressive threats. We were so freaked out that we got off at the next stop. Holy shit.
It doesn’t just happen to me, I’ve witnessed other women being subjected to sexual harassment coupled with racism. Once, there were two guys making fun of this Muslim girl who was wearing a hijab, calling her a terrorist, saying she’s stupid and that “if she didn’t wear a pillowcase over her head she would be way more do-able.” Wow. Another group of men were bullying and making sexual comments about this petite Asian girl, laughing together while saying “she probably doesn’t speak English” or “my dick would look even huger in her tiny hands,” or “I wanna rip her tight pussy apart.” Their words, not mine.
The worst situation I’ve witnessed is when this teenage girl was standing on a packed bus by the back door, holding onto a metal pole. Apparently in this world, being blonde and wearing makeup and a skirt are invitations for abuse because an older man started calling her a stripper and a whore, and even asked her for a lapdance. It kind of restored my faith in humanity when hen he tried to touch her leg and she slapped him instead of just getting off the bus.
In most of these situations, few people try to defend the victim, including me (I’m no hero), because these kinds of guys are just terrifying. The most appalling thing is that translink employees (drivers, security guards, transit “police”) rarely do anything. They are too busy catching fare evaders, and whenever I complain about a creep they just tell me to sit somewhere else or they say “oh, he’s gone now. Problem solved.”
I think it’s really sad how myself, and so many other women have been subjected to sexual, verbal, and physical harassment while on our way to work, school, home, etc. using public transit. It’s deplorable that most women conduct their lives according to a “rape schedule” by holding their finger over the “call” button for 911, avoiding walking alone at night, keeping their keys between their fingers ready to jab at a potential rapist. It’s completely unacceptable that, in 21st century CANADA (of all places!) we ladies live in fear of being raped, abducted, or assaulted while so many men walk around fearlessly, feeling entitled to have access to and free use women’s bodies for their own pleasure, regardless of a woman’s objections. It’s dehumanizing, it’s terrifying, and IT MUST BE STOPPED.