Persistently Pernicious

I am very excited to see a website allowing a place for females who rely on Vancouvers public transit to tell their stories and express their concerns and ideas.

I live downtown and rely on transit to get me to and from my job. There have been more than a few occasions that I have been left feeling uneasy, scared, or even disturbed. The example I am going to share here is that one morning I was waiting for the skytrain at Burrard station when an older man walked up and stood beside me. I clearly had my headphones in but he started to talk loudly to me and tap me on the shoulder until I pulled one of my ear buds out and looked at him. He started trying to make small talk, but I smiled politley and put my earbud back in. However, he continued to talk loudly and tap me quite vigorously on the shoulder. I tried to move away from him but he continued to follow me. Finally the train came, and unsure of what to do, I waited until I saw him enter the first car, and then quickly bolted into a car about 3 cars down from him. As I neared the center of the car to sit, the man who had been bothering me prior came running onto my car, down to where I was on the train, and pushed another man out of the way so he could have the seat beside mine, effectively trapping me between the window and him. He carried on with the same behavior as earlier and started asking me about marriage, and talking about my body while staring at my breasts. He started to lean in and act like he was smelling me and making grunting noises.
In retrospect I should have pushed the emergency button but I was startled and confused. And besides, all these people around me saw what was happening and weren’t reacting. In fact I myself have become so accustomed to seeing this type of behavior on transit that I don’t react when I see another female (or any person) being treated in such a manner. We have almost come to see it as just “another part of taking Vancouver Transit”.

I eventually reached my stop and BOLTED out of the train, but was left feeling shocked at how myself and  others around me have simply learned to accept this (and even worse) types of behavior towards women, minorities, youths, and easy targets.

I think one important step to take would be to educate not only transit staff but also fellow passengers to gender issues on transit. Touching, intimidation, and yelling slurs are all forms of abuse that females (and other minorities) experience on a daily basis. We need to stop treating them like acceptable behaviors.

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