Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Creepy Guys

I am in full out wrath mode toward creepy guys and the f-d up guy culture that creates creepy guys.

Because of creepy guy on my bus I am now taking alternate transportation to and from work. This alternate transportation includes some healthier options (biking, for example). And a some speedier options (again, biking, and also driving). That is not the point.

The point is that I loved my bus routine and now I'm not doing it because creepy guy was asking way too many personal questions, telling me narratives of his "works in progress" all of which had to do with women not being sexually satisfied by their husbands and going on quests for great sex, suggesting I stop by his apartment sometime to see his paintings and, while looking for a "card" with his address on it in his wallet, inadvertently revealing to me that his wallet photo case contains pictures of women in lingere.

What makes me more angry is that I feel the need to defend myself, to say "I did nothing to bring this on." And I didn't. I rode the bus. That was it. Oh, and I didn't say "get the fuck away" when he sat next to me. But otherwise, I just rode my route, knitting or reading happily.

That I even feel I need to say something about my own culpability says to me there is some expectation -- perhaps only in my own mind, but I suspect culturally -- that if I'm being harassed, I must have somehow invited it. Which makes me really afraid of ever being raped. If creepy bus encounters must somehow be my fault, what about full-on physical assualt?

And then I feel guilty (though it doesn't stop me from doing it -- I'm not a martyr after all) about the fact that my socio-economic position provides other options for me. I can (I hope) escape creepy guy by using my car. What about other women he might harass for whom the bus is their only transportation? What about other women the world over who can't escape disturbed, low-life, unstable, misogynist, creepy fucking guys?

And all any of us is doing is trying to live our lives for Pete's sake.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Headphones were my solution. They don't have to be plugged in to anything (in fact it's better if they aren't so you are still safely aware of your environment). You just stick them in your ears and have an instant excuse to ignore creepy people.

I also tried to sit (or stand if needed) as close as possible to the front of the bus where I at least 'felt' safer because I was near an exit and near a witness (the driver).

Sometimes if it got really bad I would take the bus right before or after the one creepy guy was on. It made me a little late or early (my route came every 15 minutes so this mightn't work for you) but was worth it.

If you want to use public transit, you should be able to. It is a sad thing to know that our North American culture has women so 'trained' to assume they are at fault for things which are not at all their fault. Was I too friendly? Was I flirting? Were my clothes too sexy/revealing? Ugh.

Hope you find a solution.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Been reading your blog for a while and I love it!! First time to comment, though.

Yarg to creepy bus man!! My sis went through something similar (not with a guy talking about sex and with ladies pics in lingerie in his wallet - but he did start getting on/off the bus at her stop ... *shudders*). I think she started taking a bus that was earlier than the one that she previously took. Still, though, we shouldn't have to do that!

P.S. if you took my bus, we could knit together =)

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Public transport vehicles are like freak incubators.

I took trains and buses multiple times a day when we lived in Chicago and I must say that those who have no choice but to be amongst the creepies tend to have much thicker skin and way more guts when it comes to standing up to them.

One (3 actually) of my favorite personal public transportation experiences are written about here.

4:28 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Thanks gals for hearing me out and offering your thoughs in return. I like the headphones idea -- just as a deterrent.

I am glad it hasn't risen to the level of your sister, Kim. I would freak if he was using my stop.

And as for your observation, Sarah, about defenses among regular public transportation riders, I agree. I am "guilty" of being too friendly. But usually it's been great. I have several bus "friends" that I'm so glad to have struck up conversations with. Most of them, however, are on the morning bus, which is largely professionals.

the afternoon bus I take home (the only one that fits the window between when I get off work and when the kids get off school) has mostly adults who are not gainfully employed for a variety of reasons. I should probably adjust my vibe to "unreceptive" except that it's really hard to toughen one's skin when that's one's natural tendancy.

My spouse spent lots of time in NYC growing up and can easily shift into "buzz off" mode. Me, from small-town Michigan finds it nearly impossible. I have, however, learned to harden my heart to the sob stories of panhandlers and con artists.

"freak incubators" makes me laugh, which I really need. Thanks.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boooo to creepy guys!

I was in the very last seat on thd bus one day. You know the one: it's at the end of the bench that lines the back wall, in the corner, wedged behind the last section of 'regular' seats. I love that seat if it's a long bus ride... I can read without having to move for anyone. On my route at the time the bus was nearly empty when boarding so I could get to it easily, and the bus was conveniently empty-ish again by the time we reached my stop so it's easy-peasy to hop off.

So, I'm tucked in there as the bus begins to fill. Really fill. Trench-coat-guy who has been sitting next to me is now pressed against my thigh as every seat is taken. Ditto for all standing room. Trench-coat-guy now whips out some reading material. I'm not up on my porno mags, but it was akin to Playboy. But much, much raunchier. Perhaps Hustler? Anyhow, Trench-coat-guy apparently thinks the CROWDED BUS is the place to catch up on his friggin' porno habit. Gross.

He's pressed against my thigh. I'm revolted. And ANGRY. But too much of a church-mouse to speak up (or, too furious to do so without boiling over and ripping his limbs off), so I say "escuse me, this is my stop" even though it isn't. He doesn't budge. Not even the pretense of shifting his knees sideways to let me pass. I had to squeeze past his big frigging knees while he was deep in, um, thought? Prick.

If it happened again I'd like to think I'd be A LOT more proactive.

I'm with Sarahthedoula... an iPod is a girl's best friend. And a book.

Good luck!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should edit my prior comment to clarify that Trench-coat-guy was apparently JUST reading the super-duper raunchy porno mag... but it's still gross.

3:05 PM  
Blogger reeciebird said...

After moving back to my hometown, my husband and I went house-hunting, made an offer on a house, and tagged along on the inspection. We were leaving and I spotted Creepy Guy from high school, leaving his house across the street. Needless to say, we didn't buy the house.

Creepy guys are a huge hurdle to effective mass transportation.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

"get the fuck away from me" seems too harsh to use right? It's hard for me to believe that someone can be filthy enough to deserve such a line... so I avoid using phrases like that and feel like I did something to egg said person on. So sad to encounter such creepiness. I'm glad you're getting away from there though, it's not worth it. I just hope he hasn't physically harmed any of those women he has pictures of in his wallet.

3:11 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Neater-neater, reeciebird and kelsey: again thanks for weighing in. Porno mags on the bus? Near miss creepy neighbors? Yuck.

I have to say, my instinct is that this guy is not dangerous, Kelsey. I expect the women in his wallet were in magazines or catalogues (I didn't look too long!). It's just that I don't want to risk being wrong.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amid all the wonderful knitting and birth posts, this kind of stands out. I'm sorry to hear that you had to deal with this. -Mark

9:33 AM  

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