Something awful to me happened today. I feel the need to share this story because this awful thing has happened to millions of women and we need to talk about it.
This morning I dropped my daughter off at school and decided to walk to a nearby coffee shop. I was checking my texts as I waited on the corner for the light to turn and a car pulled up next to me.
A man inside said, "Excuse me, Miss?" and I looked up.
There it was on full display. He had his penis out and was vigorously masturbating. I didn't scream. I didn't run. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of getting off even more by thinking that he'd shocked me.
As I casually looked back down at my phone he kept going, pleading with me to look at him. I slowly started to walk away from the corner and he followed me in his car. He was saying things that he liked about my clothes, and how I looked. I assume it was to get my attention again.
But it didn't work. I didn't look up from my phone. I can't pinpoint where exactly I heard it, but I seem to remember someone telling me that men who do this get their rocks off even more if you react to them. Or essentially, if they get caught in the act it's the ultimate high.
Eventually, he drove off and I could still see out of the corner of my eye his arm moving up and down as he went. Maybe I should have screamed or yelled like this woman did. But I don't think it really fully dawned on me what was happening until he drove away.
Did that asshole just whip out his dick at 9 a.m., near a school, and jerk off at me? Yes, he did. Then I got mad. And when I told this story on my Facebook page I got even more angry. That's because dozens of women, friends of mine, all had similar stories about men pulling out their penis and masturbating in front of them.
Some friends shared stories of this happening to them while on the train, or a bus when they couldn't escape. And on another level of disturbing behavior, is how many women said this happened to them when they were little girls.
"I had something similar happen to me when I was a child. It leaves you feeling dirty/violated."
"Same thing happened to me when I was in high school. It is so jarring and upsetting."
Some say it's happened not just once, but multiple times in restaurants, on the subway, and in parking lots. The stories go on and on, and I can't help thinking...why? Why is this happening to so many women and there's no way to stop it? And why is it mostly men who are doing this to women?
And as one friend put it, "That's what "locker room talk" leads to." Men, stop letting other men do this! Step up and tell your buddies this is not okay!
I've been going back and forth all day between emotions. Angry that this asshat will probably do this to someone else. And troubled because he is clearly mentally disturbed and needs help. But the bigger picture here is that there are probably thousands of men like him in the world that will continue to do this to women. There's probably someone reading this right now who will do this to a woman or little girl.
It's a violation. It's a mental health crisis. It's sexual assault.
All I can think about is my daughter. If something like this happened to me and so many wonderful women I know, then there's a good chance one day it will happen to her and that pisses me off. But now because of today's events, you can bet I will be even more vigilant in arming her with tools to handle it if it does.
So to the guy who masturbated in front of me today, thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to a wide-spread problem I had no idea so many women have experienced. Thank you for making me hyper-aware of this issue moving forward. And thank you for instilling in me the urgency to teach my daughter that this type of violation against women is not okay. Never will be. And we won't stand for it. Now put your penis away and get help.