When I was 19 years old, I was traveling through Mexico City, and I hopped on the metro. It was so packed with commuters that I was barely able to move. Think sardines in a can.
Once the train left the station, the man behind me started groping me. There wasn’t even enough room to turn around to glare at him. So I slid my hand along my thigh until I could get it behind me… and then I clenched his privates in a vise-like grip and twisted as hard as I could.
If he could have sunk to his knees, I’m sure he would have. Instead, he let out an agonized squeak and took his hands off me. When the doors opened at the next stop, we were all ejected from the train like lava from a volcano, so I never saw the culprit. But I’d like to think I taught him a lesson.
So imagine my delight when I saw this article about a public awareness campaign in Mexico City. The first part shows a subway seat that’s designated for men only. Its back looks like a man’s naked torso, so you can just imagine what the seat looks like. On the floor in front of the seat is as sign that says, “It’s no fun to travel like this, but it doesn’t compare to the sexual violence that women put up with in their daily commutes.”
The second part of the campaign involved aiming cameras at men’s behinds while they wait for the train. Those images are then projected on a TV screen. After a while, a message pops up and says, “Thousands of women put up with this every day.”
According to the article, the Mexican government started this campaign because they discovered that 65 percent of Mexico City women have been sexually harassed on the city’s buses and trains, and that 9 out of 10 women in the city have been victims of some form of sexual violence.
All I can say is that I’m really proud that this campaign was implemented, and I hope it yields results. If I were to experience that trauma again, I’d do exactly the same thing, with one difference: I’d also speak loud and clear. “This asshole behind me is touching me. I can’t see him, but many of you can. Don’t let him get away with this.”
Shame is a great deterrent. And knowledge is power. I know a lot of chivalrous Mexicans. Had I spoken up at the time, I suspect that pig would have come away with more than bruised balls.