Man, I usually don’t post things like this because I don’t consider myself an expert or anything, and I don’t even know how many people will read this but it feels wrong to keep silent, so I’m writing this as a “hey ladies, this might happen to you so be careful”. Also warnings for possible triggers on unconsensual sexual contact:
Today when I flew from HK to Auckland, a lady sitting in the seat right behind me across the aisle was sexually assaulted (defined as unwanted sexual contact without consent) when the lights were turned off. I had fallen asleep after the lights were all turned off in the cabin, and was awoken by the head cabin attendant’s (inflight service manager?) voice when a light turned on. At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but she sounded quite angry which perked me up. What I could gather was this:
The lady was sleeping, sitting in the window seat, and the man next to her repeatedly grabbed her breasts three times. She was quietly crying as the ISM had ordered the man to move seats, to switch with his wife who was sitting in front with his daughter. In addition, a witness sitting next to them across the aisle added that he had put his arm around her and kissed her, which made her think they were traveling together, which was definitely not the case. I had previously noticed this family because they were right behind me as we were waiting to board the plane. They repeatedly brushed too close to me and the third time they did so (I don’t remember which member of the family), I had impatiently turned back and glared at them saying “if you touch me one more time…” I later felt bad about it, thinking they were one of those rural mainland Chinese travelers who weren’t well-versed in the art of personal space as many of their brethren of infamous for.
Anyway, throughout this whole commotion, the man repeatedly said he was asleep, not in an angry or agitated voice, but in my biased opinion, a guilty defensive voice. So did his wife and daughter, who said they were very surprised. Fair enough to them. BUT OH NO YOU DIDNT BUDDY, you knew exactly what you were doing. And before anyone asks if the lady was in a mini skirt or a low cut top, let’s take a minute to think firstly WHY DOES IT MATTER WHAT SHE WAS WEARING? It still doesn’t give him ANY right to do so. CONTROL YOURSELF, you’re not beasts. Just because I carry an iPhone doesn’t give someone the right to steal my iPhone. Clothes aren’t “locks” to a woman’s body, HER AS A HUMAN BEING means you should respect her enough to not do so. Anyway rant over. Secondly because I know not everyone feels this way, no she wasn’t. She was wearing standard traveling clothes, a high neck tshirt, jeans and a comfy hoody. In fact my button up was lower than hers. So yeah, it was as appealing as whatever a man would wear. Except it matters because she’s a woman. This makes me so sad even as I type this.
I mean imagine you were just starting your holiday or whatever, or had a long day and a longer flight ahead, you fall asleep and you’re awoken in the dark by some strange man who’s groping you with his gross paws, and kissing you. Like how violated and scared you would feel. Just remembering the lady crying makes me so angry…
On a more positive note, I must commend Cathay Pacific, or more specifically the inflight service manger. I applaud the way she handled the situation. Firstly she asked the man to give up his passport so she could note down his details in case the lady who he assaulted wanted to press charges when they landed. Secondly, regardless of whether or not they call the police, she said she had notified the captain and that they would be recording it within the company so that no further incidents like this can happen. Then she moved the lady away so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable being in close proximity to the man, and furthermore insisted he sit in the window seat so the cabin crew and the rest of the passengers wouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable if he was in close proximity to the rest of us. Good call because when I realize what had happened and he was sitting next to me across the aisle, I was so disgusted and shaken that all I could do was curl away into my seat even though I really wanted to go to the toilet. Then the ISM made sure the witness lady signed a statement of what she noticed and made sure she was available in case the woman wanted to press charges. Which she assured that she will ask her twice after she’s calmed down. And she continually berated the man fiercely telling him and his family that what he did was illegal and wrong, etc.
Personally, leading a super sheltered life, this has shaken me. I understand how privileged I am to not be one of the 1 in 4 (?) women in the world to experience sexual assault, and for this I am grateful but also horrified that this happens so often. I have flown since I was 3 years old, often alone starting in my early teens, like 12 or 13. It’s almost like taking the bus now. I’m not sure how common things like this happen… In my naïveté I have never thought that the guy sitting next to me could possibly… Well. I don’t know how to react, or even if I should, or what? Let’s end this with a little PSA for us ladies then:
As sad as this is, please be aware of yourself and what’s going on if you are going to fall asleep on a plane or bus! While it is an ongoing struggle to promote feminism and have our male allies educate boys not to sexually harass or assault women, in the meantime we still need measures wherein we protect ourselves.
Firstly don’t sit on the inside, it’s easier to be boxed in / no one can see what’s happening.
Secondly, try and angle yourself away from the other person.
Thirdly perhaps have a jacket or blanket over yourself.
I really don’t know what else to do. When in doubt, make sure you have a witness who can see I guess. This whole incident makes me feel so helpless as a woman against possible assaults.
All in all, that was a pretty disturbing flight. Also lots of turbulence. The only positive thing other than the awesome inflight service manager was this dude who sat in front of me, hahaha I have no idea what he was doing. I’ve attached a picture in the post.
To conclude: #INeedFeminism because even in public spaces like airplanes, a woman still has to protect herself from men who think they can get away with touching you inappropriately. Because as a woman, I need to be on my guard 24/7. Because yes, while #NotAllMen are predators, #YesAllWomen are prey.
Cross posted from my Facebook.
There’s an abundance of bad things happening right now, and it’s hard not to be sucked into that black hole of sadness, so let’s have a puppy party shall we.
Because, let’s face it, dogs never grow up.
ADDED BONUS, PUPS IN MOTION!!!
1. Because a woman brought into this world will inevitably be given pepper spray “just in case.”
2. Because by sixteen, a young girl knows how to avoid being sexually assaulted, while a boy of the same age does not fear sexual assault in the slightest.
3. Because a girl who mocks men is a bitch, and a boy who mocks women is joking.
4. Because a girl who has sex is a slut, and a boy who has sex is a man.
5. Because in a murder, the killer is at fault, but the blame of rape is often put on the victim.
6. Because we teach girls how not to get raped instead of teaching anyone simply not to rape.
7. Because a woman should put more clothes on if her outfit makes a man uncomfortable, because his self control is her responsibility.
8. Because feminists just need to chill out.
9. Because a 22 year old sex-obsessed virgin can murder 7 people, and the problem is that someone should’ve just slept with him.
10. Because not all men are predators, but yes, all women are prey.
There’s a fucking womanifesto for you.”
Putting down confident girls is not feminism
shaming sex workers is not feminism
"I’m not like other girls" is not feminism
slut shaming is not feminism
shaming BDSM practitioners is not feminism
misandry is not feminism
ignoring trans women’s rights is not feminism