Public masturbation…not funny

A man at a Starbucks in Chicago was charged with public indecency after being reported (and caught on video) fondling himself while staring at women patrons.

The Consumerist covered this story, and, as people who write online comments are apt to do in response to stories about street harassment, sexual assault, and all things gender-based, most people made light of this incident. They said things like “He was just practicing safe sex. Don’t hate. Masturbate.” and “As a regular starbucks customer, I am much more careful about my secret perversions & fondling.” and “Hey if someone wants to rub one out at Starbucks go for it. i wonder if that will end up as part of the froth to the next capp they serve.”

As far as I can tell, most comments were from men and they (unsurprisingly) neglected to consider how disgusted, disturbed, and even threatened a woman can feel as the recipient/target of such actions. Instead they treat what happened as a big joke. I like jokes. I don’t like men treating women in public spaces as though they exist to serve as their personal masturbatory tool. In the context of gender inequality and rape culture, I just don’t see the humor.

Thanks for the story tip, B

One Response to Public masturbation…not funny

  1. elaine says:

    The Consumerist comments don’t (sadly) surprise me. I used to read that site with some frequency, until I began to realize that many of the commenters were pretty obviously privileged white college-boy-type males in the professions who snark off on these types of stories, as well as sneaking in as many demeaning slaps as they possibly can about service-industry workers, non-collegiate blue-collar workers, minorities, and yes, women who don’t meet their ‘standards’. And the sad part is, that if one tries to post a substantive comment debating those kinds of views, it’ll usually get slapped down by the moderators, who seem to be pulled from the same ranks of entitled frat-boy alumni that much of their readership is apparently composed of. It’s too bad, in a way, because it can be a useful site sometimes, but I’ve started somewhat boycotting it for that reason, and finding myself advising feminists (or advocates of social justice or just basic human decency towards the less advantaged) to do likewise.

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