Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Public Masturbation Goes Mainstream

Public Transit ignored a young woman on the local rapid transit when she reported an incident of a man sitting across from her in the early morning hours of January 12, 2011 and openly masturbating, while gazing at her. The security official reprimanded her for stopping the rapid transit to lodge a complaint. Apparently, it was much more important that the security personnel remain at the front window, looking out for a potential threat due to the extensive snowfall, reported to be about two inches. The next day in the feedback section of a local daily paper, 24 Hours, three comments were published:
  1. “Re: the [public transit] masturbator incident. It makes me sick this kind of assault would be so easily dismissed by transit security as a “nuisance.” — Comments by a man whose statement impressed me. He recognized a sexual assault when one was described.
  2. “In this situation, as a woman, I would obviously be somewhat shaken. However, was there much she or the transit staff could do when he was obviously making efforts to sneak away unrecognized? I would move on from it.” — Comments by a woman who has been conditioned to believe that inappropriate behavior must be ignored. I say to ignore inappropriate behavior is to enable the abusive behavior to continue, and in fact, escalate.
  3. “This woman is purely selfish. Of course it is going to be traumatizing witnessing what she did. However, she was not harmed. Regarding her quote on how the attendants chose the commuters’ safety over her is an obvious choice. The attendants are monitoring the safety of all passengers, not just her. She states it is unsafe to ride the train while it is snowing, but in terms of the chance there will be a sexual assault, honestly, what are the chances?” — Comments by a man who feels that inappropriate sexual behavior should be condoned and enabled because two inches of snow was falling.
Before we dissect the issue further, let’s examine some definitions of sexual abuse. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexual_activity:

sexual abuse is “Non-consensual sexual activity or subjecting an unwilling person to witnessing a sexual activity are forms of sexual abuse, as well as (in many countries) certain non-consensual …exhibitionism and voyeurism (known as 'indecent exposure'…).”

Following is a definition that seems to indicate respect for the victim's rights, http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/S/SexualAssault.aspx states: “Sexual assault is a creation of statute designed to capture those unwanted sexual advances which fall short of rape or which, while bereft of violence or even contact, nonetheless offend the recipient and are clearly sexual in nature. ...Where such an inclusive definition is set out, even sexual acts of which the victim is unaware would be punishable, such as voyeurism.”

By the first comment, I can see that the man acknowledges that indeed a sexual assault had occurred and the complaint deserved to be validated and dealt with according to the law — bravo! Still, the comment leaves me believing that the transit security staffer in question has not been trained to recognize when a sexual assault actually occurs. I wonder just how much training he actually received, based on his lame response.

I have observed much attention directed at fare evaders, but not much else. Once I witnessed several women in a train car being abused verbally by a drunk man, so I pressed the security button. At the next stop, two officers approached me and began to berate me for calling security, when I "should have simply changed cars." Excuse me — I   should leave the car? The abusive man was okay to stay and abuse still more   women? Clearly, there was something wrong with the security personnel's reasoning. Fortunately, they redeemed themselves on that occasion when the man, reeking of liquor, was escorted off the train. But giving me a talking to was a minor incident in comparison with how security dealt with the sexual assault.

While it is true that most men I have known masturbate while viewing images on the internet or magazines, most of them do not go on public transit with the idea of “jerking off” in front of a pretty young woman. Perhaps the man has a mental illness which prevents him from being aware of what is differentiated by law as decent or indecent behavior in a public setting. Or else, society in general is getting more conditioned to accept acts of indecent behavior — based on two of the above comments.

I have another bone of contention: It seems to me that some men have never been trained by their parents to respect women — so much so that the young woman in question was actually reprimanded for reporting the incident; then further dismissed by none other than a woman in comment #2. But really, I’d be curious to know how many men think that public masturbation is actually acceptable behavior for a comment like #3 to appear in print. Did this comment reflect the idea of many   similar comments?

I, for one, do not want our part of the world to feel unsafe for women — like some countries where women are not allowed to appear in public unless they are all covered up — and then, only while accompanied by a man. That would surely be a backwards step. However, women definitely DO need to feel safe in Canadian society, no matter what the “norm” is in another area.

Ultimately, men and women must learn to respect one another everywhere on our planet. Respect would be demonstrated by the use of healthy boundaries based on knowledge and education accessible to everyone.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

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