Is he masturbating against you?

Sadie at Jezebel wrote a post yesterday about the  many times she’s been unsure whether or not a man standing by her on a crowded subway is masturbating against her.

She said, “After the fact, somehow, you’re always pretty sure. But at the time, there’s just enough doubt to make one’s course of action debatable. It’s not like being flashed, or getting stuck alone in a car with some guy jerking off which, while horrible, is pretty straightforward…”

My mother had this happen to her in New York City about two years ago. She also wasn’t sure if the man rubbing against her on the crowded subway was purposely doing so or if it was the result of a crowded car, until the car became less crowded and he was still doing it. And even then, she gave him the benefit of the doubt to the extent that she didn’t say anything to him.

It’s a tricky situation: no one wants to falsely accuse someone, but no one wants to just let that happen to them (or anyone else) either.

I’m reminded of various commenters on the recent Boston Globe article about the subway anti-groping campaign in Boston who were SO concerned that women were falsely accusing men left and right of being gropers when they probably were just getting bumped on a crowded train. From anecdotal evidence, I think most women will give questionable gropers and masturbators the benefit of the doubt so I think the fear of those men is largely unfounded. (And funny how that was their concern, instead of being concerned that enough women are getting groped on the subway that Boston had to create an anti-groping campaign…) The fear of being wrong probably keeps many women from doing anything about the questionable gropers and masturbators unless it becomes quite clear what is going on (like if he’s still doing it after the train clears).

Given this dilemma, what have you done if you’ve had a possible groper or masturbator make physical contact with you?

Sadie said she has been known to dig her high heel into a questionable harasser’s foot – and often he steps away from her. My mom reporter the man rubbing against her to the New York City Transit.

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