I stepped on to the train and assumed my usual corner seat, the one right at the front with a little table. Within a minute or so, five chaps of a rather burly description with shaved heads and assorted football wear, had claimed the seats around me.
They tried to strike up conversation but I’m rather taciturn on my homeward journey so I fended off the questions. However, now I feel bad about that, it was bad manners to not want to talk about myself to gents I’d never met, so I thought I might remedy my error and answer them right here.
Where have I been? I’ve been to work.
“You’re beautiful.” Thanks. I wasn’t looking for a late night affirmation from five men I’ve never met. I’m not sure any lone woman would welcome this sort of attention over and over again.
Whilst you stare at them in a rather obsessive way. But, you know, thanks.
“Your eyes are blue. I like blue eyes. Blue is my favourite eye colour.”
And a few more times, just in case I hadn’t heard. Not creepy at all.
“Are you naked under your coat?” No. No I’m not. It’s winter. Who wants to travel home on a train at 11pm wearing nothing but a coat in winter. And you can see my blue dress under my coat. So I’m not sure why you’d ask this question.
Am I a ghost? No. If I were a ghost, I’d certainly haunt somewhere more salubrious than a train.
“Stuck up cunt.” I’m not. I just don’t want to a) fuck you b) make inane conversation with five drunk men I’ve never met before. Who’ve already asked me if I’m naked under my coat.
Am I foreign? No. Would it make all this ok if I was? BTW, your faux-talian accent is dreadful, almost bordering on xenophobically bad.
You want to cum on my face. That’s nice. Really nice. Such a kind offer but, you know, I’m on my way home from work. I’ve done a show this evening, my serotonin and adrenaline have been absorbed by those glorious, happy faces, so I’m kind of tired. It was a Christmas show, so wrangling the audience and persuading them to my will took a lot of energy.
Also, we’ve never met.
Oh, you touched my foot. It’s ok, I can move my foot over here, closer to my other foot and further away from your feet. I’d hate for you to get the wrong idea, like I’m enjoying the taunts, jibes and come-ons from all five of you. I mean, I obviously am, right? You chaps are having a huge giggle. And me? Well, I’m stony silent, staring at my phone with my headphones on (FYI, noise cancelling doesn’t mean total noise blocking), shrinking into the corner whilst you mime something that appears to be me gargling, no not gargling, gobbling your man seed. I wouldn’t go down the mime road, if I were you chaps. Though, it was utterly clear to me so maybe it could be a career path for you once you stop hassling women on trains.
Finally, after 15 minutes of your repeated incursions into my airspace, I feel it is time for me to go and you to go down. I get up. I speak up. I tell you all what I think of you and how ashamed of you I am.
Some of you have the decency to look sheepish, some of you tell me that you were “Only havin’ a laugh, innit”. I suppress the urge to correct your English, I gather my things and stalk up the train.
It’s only when I find safe haven that I notice how much my hands are shaking.
It might not have been me tonight. It might have been someone younger, less assertive, someone who was actually from another country. Someone for whom sexual assault is not just words. Someone for whom it could have been a deeply traumatic experience.
I am someone’s daughter. I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s mother.
If those chaps had stopped for just one second to consider that, maybe they would have stopped, or not even started.
I have the right to travel home in silence.
I have the right to travel home alone.
I have the right to not make small talk with drunk men I’ve never met.
I have the right to not be intimidated
I have the right. Women have the right. Every single woman has the right.
© and source/ rest: Creeps on a Train
(Excerpt etc. first posted on. Orig. attribution above.)