Verbal Abuse on the ETS- Jennifer’s Story

This morning something happened that I feel like I should share. It might be important to note that I regularly ride the train to work and of the 10 times a week I am on it, my experiences range anywhere from annoying, to unremarkable, to absolutely staggering (both good and bad).

Today was a staggeringly good and bad experience…

Being leered at on the train or in public is not an unfamiliar concept for me – like most women, I can’t make it very far without some overt male gaze making me feel small or uncomfortable in my own skin. This morning, as I was standing on the train, trying a number of different techniques to avoid the persistent stares of the older gentleman to my right, I decide that neither de-escalation nor insecurity would serve me. So, I gazed back… I stared him in the eyes for no more than 1 or 2 seconds before he ripped off his headphones to yell “what the fuck is your problem?” He continued to berate and belittle me, questioning my mental capacities and asking if I was “touched”. My response was quick and to the point, I said I was aware of his stare since entering the train and he was making me uncomfortable (something he clearly understood as my two second gaze sent him into a fit of rage). I also told him that he should reconsider his language as his words are likely to be hurtful to others sitting on the train. As you can imagine this made little impact and he continued to yell about my diminished faculties and swear at my stupidity in-front of a train-car full of commuters. I had resigned myself to the futility of the matter but continued to physically stand tall, I was not going to let him scare me! This became easier when an ally, from across the train, ran to my side. She stood next to me – just as tall and unrelenting as I had been. She told the man that she had heard the entire conversation and that he was being arrogant and needed to get off the train. Just knowing that someone had my back felt absolutely incredible. And although I didn’t need her support I loved that I had it. We sat next to one another for the rest of the ride and as got off at my stop I thanked her for being so kind.

This experience could have left me pretty shaken, but it hasn’t. In-fact, it has done the opposite as my new friend Anna gave me hope, love, and confidence. When we can, we need to stand together. If given the opportunity we need to show kindness. “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”

* As an aside, I have contact ETS Security and filed a report.