Dear man on the train,
You were everything but “dear.”
You gave me a sleazy smile that lingered a little too long. I saw your eyes dart up and down my body again and again. I sat down. You moved into my view. I did my best to ignore it as I pretended to text my friends, as I flicked through my music playlist and as I stared out of the train window.
But you persisted.
You asked for my name. I’ve never been one for being rude so I told you and politely asked yours. I didn’t hear your response, but I didn’t care. You’re the man without a name.
I felt your eyes on me. I felt them boring into my face. I felt you wait, anticipating the moment that I looked up. I didn’t. I made sure of that.
I stood as the train started to pull into my stop. A little too early, but I wanted to be out of your sight. I wanted you out of mine. You stood as well. Bad luck I assumed. The same destination, I presumed. I was wrong. You just stood to pester me a little longer. You asked for my number, I refused. You asked for my Facebook, I claimed I didn’t have one. You asked if I was in a relationship, I lied and said I was. STILL you didn’t get the hint. You asked me some other questions that I didn’t quite hear and that I don’t fully recall.
You told me I was beautiful. You winked at me. You smirked.
Now, I’m far too polite to have said anything, but man on the train, ever since my journey I’ve kicked myself for not speaking out. For not highlighting how much of a vile creature you are. Your sleazy perverted wink, did not flatter me. Your blatant interest did not interest me. You said I was beautiful, I didn’t feel it. How could a woman feel beautiful when she is being leered at by a stranger on a train? I did not consent to have my body surveyed by you once, twice, three times. I’m not a sexual object for your entertainment on a boring journey. My initial politeness isn’t me wanting to give you my number, it isn’t me hoping to get to know you better and it isn’t me desperately wanting you between my legs. It’s me being polite. Not that you deserved it. I should have spat in your face and made you feel as slimy and worthless as you made me feel.
You must have seen my agitation and how uncomfortable I felt. Surely? I know it was obvious as I stood prematurely and as I pressed the button to open the exit door multiple times. I know it was obvious because an older gentleman silently mouthed at me, enquiring as to whether I was okay. Man on the train, don’t tell me I am sensitive, don’t tell me that boys will be boys…because another stranger, another man saw my discomfort.
There are a hundred and one things that I wish I had said to you. I fear that you consider it acceptable to harass young girls as they travel alone. Young girls who make it unquestionably clear that they are not interested.
To the kind faced man who smiled and reassured me, thank you. You restored my faith in humanity and in men.
To the man on the train, I despise you. You disgusted yourself and you made me feel disgusting.
To men out there, you may think a leer, a flirtation or a wink is harmless. Maybe, some of the time, it is. JUST make sure that the girl at the other end is enjoying it. Make sure that she is consenting and giving as good as she gets. Otherwise, you are this man I had the misfortune of encountering. You are that sleazy, slimy male…and maybe, just maybe you will mess with a girl who has the balls to set you straight. A girl who doesn’t fear being impolite but refuses to be reduced to a sexual object for your gratification.
With much hatred,
The girl you harassed.