Subway gropers exposed

So it’s somewhat old news that last week the New York City police nabbed 13 subway gropers in just 36 hours. Any woman who’s ever ridden crowded public transportation isn’t really surprised by what the undercover cops experienced.

Women know the drill. Just as some men reflexively check to see if they have their wallets on a crowded train, women check their bodies. Pull in your backside and your front. Wedge a large bag for protection between yourself and the nearest anonymous male rider, who might, just might, be planning something. Put on you fiercest face, and brace yourself for contact that seems too deliberate to be accidental, too prolonged to be random.

And yet subway historian Stan Fischler says, “Half the time you don’t know whether it’s accidental or not.” Somehow I find it hard to believe that Stan has ever been intentionally groped on the subway or the bus (or on the street, for that matter). Because, as a woman, I can assure him that it’s pretty easy to figure out quickly whether you’re being touched accidentally or on purpose.
Even though the article doesn’t mention the website by name, we can credit the fabulous HollabackNYC for getting the police to take notice of street and subway harassment. It’s really inspiring that their project has gotten so much attention.
The NYC tabloids had nearly identical leads on their coverage of the sting, though the Post definitely wins:

Subway perverts beware: Your next flashing or groping victim could be a cop.(NY Daily News)
Subway gropers, beware – next time you cop a feel, you might be feeling a cop. (NY Post)

Hilarious! But I do want to point out that not every groper is a “pervert.” I think many of them are just regular dudes who feel entitled to grab a little ass now and again. So fighting this type of harassment is not just a matter of keeping a small subset of the population off of public transportation, or segregating women in their own train cars. It’s about changing society’s idea that it’s okay for random men to touch and comment on women’s bodies.

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