Quick Hit: Mexico City joins the women-only transportation club

While sex-segregated train cars aren’t new to Mexico City, the most widely-used form of transportation, buses, are now including women-only vehicles. (And like Brazil, has pink included on the new “ladies only” buses.) While it seems that women in Mexico City are pretty happy about this change, we go back to the question – is it protection or segregation?
Related: Check out Jessica’s Guardian piece on the issue from this past summer.

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  • derrp

    Incidentally, Feministing seriously needs to use a different platform for these comments. Almost every single time you post, you get an error message, or it takes forever to complete and you end up having to go back and refresh. The double and triple posts are really distracting.

  • mathgoddess

    “If any significant percentage of the men in cities with female-only facilities were honestly “good” people, they would have helped women a long time ago to file lawsuits against gropers and get rid of the “bad” men.
    If you don’t help, you are part of the problem, (Tim!) and you can wait for the next goddam bus.”
    “I suggest they follow their conscience instead of making decisions based on convenience. I also suggest that men realize that it’s a big fucking problem, that it’s overwhelmingly male perps and female victims here, and speak out against male terrorism instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist.”
    Sounds pretty hostile to me…
    Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that men need to take responsibility for other men as well as their own actions, just as we need to call out women who are sexist/racist/whateverist. I just think it’s unfair to say that they are not “good people” because not all of them work to raise awareness all the time. They are flawed, just like we are, but not necessarily bad.

  • Geek

    I’m coming to this way late, but the other flaw in Tim’s argument is that he’s assuming that men and women had equal access prior to the female-only busses.
    Living in the conditions some commenters have described adds a level of stress to women’s lives that many men can’t understand. The bus situation is part of that. The women who ride the busses didn’t have equal access to safe transportation that men did.

  • feministique

    Having lived in Mexico, Brazil and other central and south american countries – I think this is great. I would have taken these buses all the time. Yes it is reactive – but is it realistic to think that we will change the societal underpinnings of violence against women to a point where we won’t need pink busses in the next twenty years? Baby steps people , baby steps.

  • http://born-stubborn.livejournal.com syndicalist702

    SarahMC – It took some doing, but I’ve started to stand up to my coworkers when they start talking shit. I was very apprehensive the first time, but it was worth it to me to know I did the right thing.
    No more “bros before hos” for me. I never got along with the “bros” very well anyway.
    Peacenik – I love the way you broke things down to Tim. Shame men tend to take other men seriously, but think less of what is being said when a woman is talking.
    Tim – Stop denying your privilege, dude. We’ve got it made compared to women. We need to recognize the disparities and help make the world right for women, too. We can start by not whining when women are granted special concession only because they want/need an escape from the harm our privilege does to them. This kind of thing is going to continue to be a necessary “evil” until we, as men, police our ranks – thus taking out the knees of patriarchy. Hopefully he’ll hit his head on a rock when he topples his big ass over. :-)

  • geeky_girl

    “they are not “good people” because not all of them work to raise awareness all the time”
    It’s not about just awareness. No one has the capability to raise awareness every waking moment. No one should be expected to. No one catches every sexist joke or even avoids making them all the time.
    It’s about standing up to other men in an environment that is hostile to women and openly punishes them. They aren’t “bad”, but they certainly aren’t being the “good” guys they pretend to be. “Hey I’m a good guy, I don’t grope” you say.
    Maybe I’m hostile, but it’s a hell of a lot more hostile to let women know you don’t care about their well-being by letting them be assaulted sexually.

  • Liza

    “I’m sorry you’re being attacked by everyone here. I know that some feminists can sometimes seem unwelcoming to male allies (but that’s a whole different conversation).”
    1. He’s not being attacked. He’s being disagreed with. There’s a big difference.
    2. No one here is unwelcoming to male allies. But that’s a good way to excuse away our disagreement with what he’s saying.

  • http://born-stubborn.livejournal.com syndicalist702

    geeky_girl: Two words: intestinal fortitude. I still get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. I think “holy shit, man, your railing against a powerful paradigm here.”
    It’s still worth it, though.

  • SarahMC

    If, as a man, you don’t think you’re strong enough to stand up against sexism, fine.
    But if that’s the case, DO NOT cry foul when women who face harassment every day are given a harassment-free commute alternative.

  • http://born-stubborn.livejournal.com syndicalist702

    SarahMC – Agreed. Again, it’s worth it. Besides, it’s not as “scary” after the first few times. Most men I know respect my beliefs. I haven’t run into any that are persistent yet. I’ve got a fellow male feminist friend who has suggested an approach to the persistent ones. It’s good to have a support system, whether they be men or women.

  • Liza

    Good for you, syndicalist702!!! I guess I should say thank you too.
    I try to point out the bullshittery of a lot of the misogynistic crap that’s out there and I get a lot of confused looks and people telling me I’m too sensitive.

  • http://born-stubborn.livejournal.com syndicalist702

    Liza, I appreciate your gratitude. I don’t expect it though. I’m in the movement because I believe in it.

  • http://born-stubborn.livejournal.com syndicalist702
  • geeky_girl

    Thanks to syndicalist. And good job saying things shortly and elegantly, Sarah…
    I’m so verbose yet ineffective at times.

  • dananddanica

    I agree that this is also somewhat of a class issue. As far as the “first they came” thing, well I’m not entirely sure what to say about that. If we are to talk about buses and other areas of life like that, well if you expect men to stand up to it, ie if they see something bad happen and to try and stop it or say something to the perpetrator, why shouldn’t the same be expected of women? What is the reason you don’t smack someone on a bus at 1am if he touches you? Its the same reason the man sitting elsewhere on the bus probably does nothing. These kinds of incidents are indeed sexual assault but, as mentioned above, its also about power. Anyone can be disempowered in the moment.
    So I guess what I’m talking about is I’m not entirely sure what you would want men to do on buses, bus stops, those kinds of place. I can pretty much guarantee if I were on a bus with you at 2am and groped you there is nothing anyone on that bus would do about it unless they were in a group or armed. I know I’m drawing too specific a scenario (sketchy situations) but thats what I was getting at before.
    It seems these kinds of steps are necessary for the greater long term good, I truly hope this bus situation will continue to raise awareness. As a man I find it disgusting my wife or mother has to go through these things and I do all that I can but there are things a single person cant do other than help the greater cause in a small way.

  • UCLAbodyimage

    I generally agree with people who have been supportive of the bus segregation. If women aren’t routinely unsafe on public transportation because of actions perpetrated 99% of the time by males, then an alternative needs to be provided (stronger enforcement, alternate bussing, etc.).
    Two thoughts though that I think haven’t come up.
    1) What will this policy do to the women who stay on the traditional bus. They may go from being a 50-50 male-female split to a 70-30 male-female split. That very realistically could lead to some men being even more aggressive. How can this be stopped?
    2)Syndacalist702 posted this: “Tim, watch this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw5XQz7tb8Y
    The video explains the intersections of different privileges well. I do think that the video doesn’t give full credence to the importance of considering within-sex variation in status. I would just add that it a difficult issue gender theorists struggle with more generally. For example, here is a passage from Messner & Solomon (2007 -Social Justice and Men’s Interests; The Case of Title 9).
    “Men as a group tend to take for granted their right to a patriarchal dividend, which includes acces to a surplus of economic resources, as well as authority, respect, service, safety, housing, access to institutional power and control over one’s life…. However, the patriarchal dividend is the benefit to men as a group. Individual men may get more of it than others, or less, or none, depending on their location in the social order… One way to begin thinking about this question of men’s interests is to invoke the now-common observation that in speaking about ‘men’, we may be falsely universalizing a group and oversimplifying the idea of ‘men’s interests’. Scholarship on masculinities has long grappled with this dilemma: How to retain the feminist critique of men’s global power and privilege over women while appreciateing the considerable inequalities and differences among men”

  • derrp

    if you expect men to stand up to it, ie if they see something bad happen and to try and stop it or say something to the perpetrator, why shouldn’t the same be expected of women?
    Male privilege and power is the difference. Maybe that isn’t obvious to you, as a man. Which is yet another example of male privelege – your own.

  • derrp

    What is the reason you don’t smack someone on a bus at 1am if he touches you? Its the same reason the man sitting elsewhere on the bus probably does nothing.
    What, the threat of violence? Are you kidding me? If you saw a little kid being molested on the bus, would you step in, despite whatever risk of violence there might be? Hell, yes, you would. So what’s the difference? A woman, especially if she’s of small stature, doesn’t have a hell of a lot more power in that situation than a kid does.
    The difference is, we are socialized to accept misogyny and sexual assault against women as “expected,” or “not a big deal.” So bystanders will look the other way.
    The perp, whether it’s women or children he’s assaulting, wouldn’t do it if he thought his victim would fight back. That’s why we need men to step up to the plate. Men have the power, and with that power comes responsibility. So step up.

  • geeky_girl

    “What is the reason you don’t smack someone on a bus at 1am if he touches you? ”
    Uhm, because in this country, I am more likely to get arrested for assault than that dick is for sexual assault. Not to mention that he is most likely physically stronger than me. I am already at a disadvantage by being female, and if someone with an advantage does not stand up for me, it gets harder and harder to do it for myself.
    I cannot even say “your behavior is rude” without risking some freak calling me a bitch and trying to humiliate me. Men don’t get called bitches, and men are much more capable of making sexist pigs feel uncomfortable and humiliated than women are (since women, after all, are beneath their notice except as objects to grope/fuck/etc).
    I try to have a bus buddy on busy routes, even in Seattle where transit is fairly safe. I try only to sit next to women or men who are involved with their laptops (or that I know and trust). I stand if no safe looking seats are available, preferably by a door or the front of the bus, where I can keep my back to a wall. What more am I supposed to do against people with societal advantage and power who may follow me off the bus if they get angry?
    And in countries where pink buses have become necessary, I can only imagine the humiliation women who stood up for themselves suffered, even as they tried to get buses that would keep them safe.

  • derrp

    I cannot even say “your behavior is rude” without risking some freak calling me a bitch and trying to humiliate me.
    Indeed. geeky_girl, I am willing to bet that 99% of women reading your post have experienced this. The constant fear and hypervigilence that we live with every day, is something that few men will ever even come close to understanding.
    Sounds like terrorism to me.

  • Monika

    I haven’t have a chance to read the comments but I don’t think segregation is a good answer. I think it is treating the symptoms rather than curing the disease.
    What I would like to ask other posters is do you think this is different to women only colleges and gyms etc? There seems to be a positive attitude towards those sorts of segregations but it seems very similar to me?

  • rileystclair

    thanks, syndicalist. very well put.

  • nerdalert

    I am willing to bet that 99% of women reading your post have experienced this.
    Yes. Basically, the only option is to ignore the harassment or play along with it. If you try to stand up for yourself, most harassers are going to try as hard as they can to put you back in your place.
    I even used to get harassed on the school bus in high school. It would be nice to be completely comfortable for awhile when out of home.
    In the other hand, I don’t want segregation to become a norm.
    Patriarchy and prescribed gender roles make life harder for everyone.

  • meeneecat

    How about we segregate the gropers and harassers onto a separate bus instead? Anyone that gets caught will in the future have to wear a bracelet around their ankle and if they try and get on a regular bus the alarm goes off which sounds the police and they face even more penalties. The only problem with it though, would be that a person has to get caught first, which means a woman would have to be groped. Maybe though, having a segregated “groper bus” would act as a deterrent, because to me it seems that having a separate women’s bus doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent. The women only bus might send the wrong message to these gropers; that when a woman rides the regular bus she is “asking to be groped”, I know that’s sexist for anyone to think, but I wouldn’t put it past pubic gropers to think that.
    A couple posters mentioned other men standing up for women against gropers, and I know if I were on the bus and someone groped me, my husband would be the first to put that guy in the hospital. If I were alone and I had a nice heavy object on me, like a hammer, I’d probably try and bust his head in or smash his nuts, mace would work too. I know, it’s violent, but I bet it would be a lot more effective than the slap on the wrist that a police officer or the injustice system would give the groper.
    And in response to another poster, I agree with the comment that having a separate bus for women is just treating the symptoms and not the disease, which is part: cultural acceptance of misogyny, and part: an individuals own disrespect toward women.

  • meeneecat

    How about we segregate the gropers and harassers onto a separate bus instead? Anyone that gets caught will in the future have to wear a bracelet around their ankle and if they try and get on a regular bus the alarm goes off which sounds the police and they face even more penalties. The only problem with it though, would be that a person has to get caught first, which means a woman would have to be groped. Maybe though, having a segregated “groper bus” would act as a deterrent, because to me it seems that having a separate women’s bus doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent. The women only bus might send the wrong message to these gropers; that when a woman rides the regular bus she is “asking to be groped”, I know that’s sexist for anyone to think, but I wouldn’t put it past pubic gropers to think that.
    A couple posters mentioned other men standing up for women against gropers, and I know if I were on the bus and someone groped me, my husband would be the first to put that guy in the hospital. If I were alone and I had a nice heavy object on me, like a hammer, I’d probably try and bust his head in or smash his nuts, mace would work too. I know, it’s violent, but I bet it would be a lot more effective than the slap on the wrist that a police officer or the injustice system would give the groper.
    And in response to another poster, I agree with the comment that having a separate bus for women is just treating the symptoms and not the disease, which is part: cultural acceptance of misogyny, and part: an individuals own disrespect toward women.

  • dananddanica

    so youre saying out in public women are the same as small children in that theyre defenseless against strong men? so I should step up and intervene whenever I see a wrong being done? I would love to do that and have in the past but can’t in every situation. what you’re getting at is the ultimate goal but we have yet to reach that level. on a societal level what you’re saying is correct but when it comes down to personal situations it doesn’t always work that way. if i saw a child being molested on a bus i would try and stop it. if a physically average man saw me doing that, he might try to but then again he might not. so you’re saying the male protection role will never go away?
    yes, it is a power thing but not every man is powerful, again i hate to personalize it so much but a lot of men are also terrorized by this power and dont act, contrary to their own “protector” training.
    where do you come up with youre more likely to get arrested? ive never seen any stats that support that statement though most deal with DV and not out in public interactions. I know for sure if you were to be convicted you’d be looking at a lighter sentence than a man.
    it is a terrible, terrible situation and mexico by far isnt the worst but it will take a long time to change. day by day we work on it and it will take the effort of everyone. I feel that these buses may be a good measure for the short term and hopefully, along with many other efforts, will get us to where we need to be. has there been enough ads or public discussion in mexico regarding this? there definitely should be.
    the feelings expressed in many posts here really need to make it out to more people somehow. as far as male privilege goes, this is one of the things many men, especially young men, just have never thought about other than in specific instances. how do you spread the word out to the larger community?

  • Ksms

    Meeneecat, if I’d hit every man who groped me on public transport, on the street, or in a public place, I’d have spent my entire post-puberty life incarcerated. Providing I was lucky enough to not hit someone who was better armed or stronger than me, which is unlikely. In that case, I’d probably have some life-long injury related disabilities right now. Or be dead. And, obviously, one cannot use mace or pepper spray on a crowded train or bus.
    I really don’t think there was ever any other option for me than to either just take it, or try to avoid it through behavior like
    Geeky_girl mentions. You can also verbally confront someone, but it’s fairly pointless. And takes more guts than I ever had – I feared retaliation, and that outweighed my anger or desire to shame the groper.
    I’m old now, and so I’m rarely a target for harassment anymore. And one of the few perks of living in this aging body is the freedom from frequent sexual harassment. I’ve got to say, I miss being young and cute, but I do not miss the frequent anger, fear, and humiliation I experienced as a young woman.
    Also – there’s a huge difference between the experience of females who live in a place where people drive versus females who live in urban areas. If you live in a rural or suburban setting, it’s difficult to understand how constant the harassment is in cities, and how much it affects your daily life. So I tend to think that some women might not understand how bad it can be. One experiences it more if most of one’s life is spent in public – buses, trains, or walking. The private bubble of a private car insulates a lot of women from the problem (of course, it also adds whole new problems, like the dangers of parking lots, garages, the car breaking down somewhere, etc.)
    Dananddanica – men are stronger than women. Men react differently to a man confronting them than to a woman confronting them. A woman is not likely to be harassed if she’s with a male. It’s is true that intervening might be dangerous for the guy trying to help out. But perhaps if “good” men did step in verbally to defend women, as a common everyday occurence, men would think twice before harassing women in public. I know I never got harassed when I was with a male friend. Whether a male stranger stepping in would have helped in any situation, I don’t know. None ever did. Not bus drivers, not passersby.
    Oops, no, I’m mistaken. I remember one incident, where someone did step in and defend me, pretending to be my husband. Then I couldn’t shake him for the rest of the trip – he alternated between hitting on me and proselytizing for the rest of the long bus ride. Out of the frying pan, into the fire….
    I’ll take taking treating the symptoms, since I don’t really see a cure for the disease coming any time soon.

  • geeky_girl

    d&d, uhm, larger community… have you by any chance been to feministing.com ?
    It seems as though you agree that the buses are good until men behave though. I like that women have somewhere safe, even if I hate the reason.
    All of your questions about “why should men be protecting women” are already answered in this thread.
    As for more likely to have charges pressed or get arrested or whatever… Which assault can more easily be denied? Which can be claimed to be accidental? Which has to look like only “necessary” self defense? That one is the one more likely to get you in trouble.

  • geeky_girl

    *why should men be protecting women from men doing bad things*
    Bad phrasing corrected.

  • dananddanica

    ksma,
    yes if that did become the norm it would be great and hopefully we will get there. men are indeed stronger than women in general but men cannot be their defenders in every case, it simply cannot happen. What we would need to work towards is anyone wanting to do something like grope a women would not do it as he or she would know what to expect. the first steps of that have gotten a bad reputation but I feel its something lacking nowadays, the use of shame.
    hopefully we could move past that but as it stands now, men should be ashamed there is a need for female only buses and that shame can be used as motivation. unfortunately most environments ive been in in my life dislike using shame as a motivating tactic. as i said its not the best one but i feel it should be a part of the process, similar to “peer pressure” usually being seen as a bad thing but being very much needed for positive outcomes in the socialization of young males.
    geeky,
    do you regard this site as the larger community? I’m originally from maine (a great state) and have lived all across the country, trust me, the views expressed on feministing or its sister sites are by no means being heard in the larger community. this is a problem. this is one of the main problems.
    as far as the assault, the stats dont back you up and as far as which can be denied or accidental, again that doesnt survive statistical scrutiny. maine is a very progressive state, they have quite an interesting DV policy and that policy carries over to a lot of violent interactions, the male will be arrested nearly by default every time. that is even the case where i live now, in deep south “jawja”.

  • NekkidNancy

    I understand why people are concerned about this situation and the segregation aspect of it. I also understand that people are looking at it in a “what if the roles were reversed and women weren’t allowed on a bus” light.
    However, I think that some people (Tim in particular) are not recognizing how terrifying being a woman can be. So many women have this mentality of viewing men as a potential threat (and not wrongly so).
    I can totally understand why women would feel more comfortable not being in an enclosed space with a group of men who FEEL ENTITLED TO HARASS THEM.
    No, not all men are bad. I would say MOST men are not bad.
    However, I understand why these women are afraid. This situation is problematic, I agree. But it’s not about hurting men, it’s not about stereotyping them, it’s about trying to make women feel safe. There is no ill intetion here.

  • derrp

    dananddanica: so youre saying out in public women are the same as small children in that theyre defenseless against strong men?
    In a sense. Women and children both have lesser power than men – social, institutional, and usually physical and economic as well. Of course women aren’t defenseless – for example, they can carry concealed weapons in some states – I was just drawing a parallel between the power differentials that exist in both cases.
    so you’re saying the male protection role will never go away?
    As long as men have disproportionate power (as they always do under patriarchy) and insist on terrorizing women (and children), “good” men will have to step up to the plate. We need to get rid of the damn patriarchy.
    yes, it is a power thing but not every man is powerful, again i hate to personalize it so much but a lot of men are also terrorized by this power and dont act, contrary to their own “protector” training.
    The smallest, weakest man will garner more respect from a sexual assault perp than the world’s strongest woman. Obviously, individual men can choose for themselves whether or not to act and put themselves at risk, but the fact remains that women can’t choose.
    where do you come up with youre more likely to get arrested?
    I agree with what geeky_girl said. I would add that since sexual assault against women isn’t taken seriously in most societies, including the US and Mexico, women are likely to be derided and dismissed when they take their complaints to the police. Whereas the male perps will most likely be dealing with male officers, who are not known for their egalitarian sensitivities.
    how do you spread the word out to the larger community?
    Talking about it here is a great start. It’s also important to live by feminist principles and be a good example to others, whether they be friends, family, people at work, or complete strangers. Social change isn’t always easy or quick to catch on. But I believe we’re heading in the right direction (Shrub’s dumbassery over the past 7 years notwithstanding).

  • lyndorr

    Perhaps, most of us can’t really know what it’s like to be these women. Closest thing I imagine is being in a bar/club, except I would be there every time I leave my house. Yes, this is a good first step. I think we go to being pragmatic rather than idealistic when the ideal seems too far off to be reality any time soon. When a first step has yet to be made. Like here.
    I think women being touched in ways they don’t want to be touched is what makes me mad the most as far as feminism’s issues and what I care about most. It just seems to be a problem everywhere even when women have gained much more in other areas.

  • A male

    I see most issues here have been discussed.
    “I do want to point out here that groping isn’t just harassment, it’s sexual assault.”
    Yes, it’s not a simple matter of kicking abusers off the bus or putting offenders on “groper only” buses. The ones reported need to be treated like criminals. People have mentioned the Japanese train system. Gropers who must first be apprehended, face a fine of approximately $500, minimum.* More serious kinds of contact may be charged more seriously. Actual rapes are known to occur on trains. In addition to victims and bystanders becoming more willing to report offenses (a minority of men are also victimized), Japan has a system of specialized railway police who for example, patrol trains undercover to seek out offenders themselves.
    *This deserves mention. Mexican buses sound even more crowded than Tokyo commuter trains. It can be difficult in a solid, swaying crush of bodies to determine who is doing what to whom. It is possible some contact may be accidental, and it is also a known technique for men to deliberately press up against women or even grind his groin against them, blaming the movement of the train. It is the policy of my wife’s father on the train, to keep both his hands above his head holding onto the strap to avoid confusion or accusation, and I behave in a similar fashion to avoid women and keep my hands in sight whenever possible.
    There are some men who have claimed to be falsely accused, accidentally or otherwise. Unlike many crimes against women, groping is taken quite seriously by Japanese police, and when Japanese police make an arrest, the burden of proof is on the accused. Those few who have successfully defended themselves in court on groping charges may spend up to a year and a half or more in prison during proceedings, and spending $200,000 in cash on legal defense. Obviously, they have by this time been identified in media, their families shamed, and of course, they are fired from their jobs due to scandal, despite being freed. Shame is a serious matter in Japan.
    Faced with this, some men have claimed it easier to plead guilty and just pay the $500 fine without going to jail, but spend the rest of their lives hopefully in secret, as convicted sex offenders. Men report even police tell the accused to just confess, pay the fine, and go home instead of fighting it from jail. For all crimes that make it to trial, Japan’s conviction rate exceeds an incredible 99.5% – the fear of even the innocent accused is warranted.
    I am behind the women on this issue, but when in Japan in such a setting as a man, I am also afraid. I suspect men in Mexico may also be afraid if it were taken more seriously.

  • A male

    I see most issues here have already been discussed.
    “I do want to point out here that groping isn’t just harassment, it’s sexual assault.”
    Yes, it’s not a simple matter of kicking abusers off the bus or putting known offenders on “groper only” buses. The ones reported need to be treated like criminals. Some have mentioned the Japanese train system. Gropers who must first be apprehended, face a fine of approximately $500, minimum. More serious kinds of contact may be charged more seriously, as actual rapes are known to occur on trains. In addition to victims and bystanders becoming more willing to report offenses (a minority of men are also victimized), Japan has a system of specialized railway police who for example, patrol trains undercover.
    This deserves mention, as Mexican buses sound even more crowded than Tokyo commuter trains. It can be difficult in a solid, swaying crush of bodies to determine who is doing what to whom. It is possible some contact may be accidental, OTOH it is also a known technique for men to deliberately press up against women or even grind his groin against them, blaming the movement of the train. It is the policy of my wife’s father on the train, to keep both his hands above his head holding onto the strap to avoid confusion or accusation, and I behave in a similar fashion to avoid women and keep my hands in sight whenever possible.
    There are some men who have claimed to be falsely accused, accidentally or otherwise. Unlike many crimes against women, groping is taken quite seriously by Japanese police, and when Japanese police make an arrest, the burden of proof is on the accused. Those few who have successfully defended themselves in court on groping charges may spend up to a year and a half or more in prison during proceedings, and spending $200,000 in cash on legal defense. Obviously, they have by this time been identified in media, their families shamed, and of course, they are fired from their jobs due to scandal, despite being freed. Shame is a serious matter in Japan.
    Faced with this, some men have claimed it easier to plead guilty and just pay the $500 fine without going to jail, but spend the rest of their lives hopefully in secret, as convicted sex offenders. Reportedly even police tell the accused to just confess, pay the fine, and go home instead of fighting it from jail. For all crimes that make it to trial, Japan’s conviction rate exceeds an incredible 99.5% – the fear of even the innocent accused is warranted.
    I am behind the women on this issue, but when in Japan in such a setting as a man, I am also afraid. I suspect men in Mexico may also be afraid if it were taken more seriously.

  • leah

    “it is also a known technique for men to deliberately press up against women or even grind his groin against them, blaming the movement of the train.”
    That has happened to me. I will never forget it, or the face of the perv who did it. I felt completely powerless in that situation. I was sitting, perv was standing, at my shoulder/head. I kept leaning away (I was practically on the lap of the old man next to me by the end), he kept leaning in. I really wish one of the 75 other passangers would have said or done something. But even those who knew something was going on (judging by the looks on their faces), said nothing. After enduring that for enough time I simply used my elbow to let him know if he continued he’d lose a testicle. None of the other passengers stopped THAT, either. He got off at the next stop.

  • A male

    Whew. No one has jumped on my post yet.
    I would like to make perfectly clear that I am not excusing such behavior, calling women liars, or being by implication a rape apologist. There is a big difference. The problem in prosecuting or defending against accusations of unwanted touch, is the clear possibility of misunderstanding and misidentification in a crowded space.
    My definition for sexual assault and rape is one of the widest possible, and even some posters have openly disagreed – if the victim feels sexually violated, then they were assaulted or raped (even if this realization comes after the fact). In the case of unwanted touch, this can happen even by accident. If someone accuses another of sexually assaulting them in a crowded space, I hope they are sure, and of the identity of the offender.
    Let me tell you a true story. As I have mentioned, having lived a sheltered life, I reacted to being freed of parental supervision by promptly behaving like an irresponsible ass at university, and getting arrested within four months about three days after my 18th birthday. A female police officer – young, caucasian, and physically attractive – escorted me from the car of the arresting officer, through the parking bay of the police station and to the secure entrance.
    With my hands cuffed behind my back and in the lead, I stopped at the locked door. I lifted my hands, because I assumed I was going to be freed to enter (of course that would not be the case). It was at that exact moment that the officer’s momentum carried her into me, and my cupped fingers went perfectly into her groin.
    I dropped my hands in shock (I know what I felt, though I would not have a repeat experience until eight years later with my future wife) and stood silent until we were let in. In retrospect, not being psychic, the officer would have been justified in doing two things:
    – subduing me by force
    – arresting me again, for sexual assault upon a police officer
    My only defense would have been “It was an accident,” or “I didn’t mean to,” and we know how much victims like hearing that. Surprisingly, the officer did not seem to react at all to having my fingers stuck in her crotch. But if she had ever believed I had assaulted her, I would have been FAWKED.

  • A male

    “That has happened to me. I will never forget it, or the face of the perv who did it. I felt completely powerless in that situation.”
    TRIGGER ALERT:
    leah, I am sorry, and this happens so commonly in the Japanese commuter system, it is a recognized social phenomenon, with a name. It is also usual for bystanders in Japan to not react, or to ignore pleas for help. There are even attackers so bold, that they target the same victims repeatedly (they are commuters), as at least one man did my wife on a nearly daily basis in college. He even used to follow her as she moved to other cars or even off the train and onto others when she attempted to silently escape him. This “stalking groper” phenomenon also has a name in Japan.
    Now that victims and bystanders in Japan are not quite so timid, and police have taken this crime more seriously, offenders have taken a more sinister approach, and I hope such is not true in Mexico now or ever: perverts have been known to hook up through adult magazine ads or online services and work in unison, shielding each other from view and acting lookout on crowded trains, even teaming up to assault selected “silent” targets, who may also be specifically identified in public information exchange. In Japan, there even used to be a magazine dedicated to serving these train molesters and enthusiasts, and I have seen this information exchange myself – it is called Finger Press, sold on the magazine racks.
    Text article, but really, really, TRIGGER ALERT:
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19970406/ai_n14117625
    I can’t believe that the last of this magazine was in ’97 – I could have sworn I saw it, or one like it, fairly recently. But the problem remains.

  • derrp

    “I am behind the women on this issue, but when in Japan in such a setting as a man, I am also afraid. I suspect men in Mexico may also be afraid if it were taken more seriously.” – A_male
    I would be afraid, too, if I were a man. The patriarchy hurts us all, and it is somewhat comforting to me that there are some men who actually accept this reality. In the final analysis, it’s better – and more “fair” objectively speaking – that the risk of being treated unfairly with respect to sexual assault is more evenly distributed between the sexes. As it stands, women incur an overwhelming majority of that risk. I’m glad to hear that Japan is doing something to remedy that.
    From that article: “… the most famous pervert in Japan… insists, for instance, that he met his wife when he groped her on a train.”
    WTF.

  • A male

    “The patriarchy hurts us all, and it is somewhat comforting to me that there are some men who actually accept this reality.”
    I don’t “accept” it. On a Japanese train, I am scared to be around girls and women, and am thankful I usually travel with my wife and kids, now that I no longer live there. I in NO way downplay the victimization of women, stories I have heard direct from victims sicken me, but most people I imagine would never ever be able to put on a public, months to years long, $200,000 fight against a $500 fine that carries no jail time, for allegedly touching a woman. WIthout perfect video surveillance and telepathy, OR competent bystanders *willing to show up in court* (in Japan?) to be witnesses, how can someone “prove” they did NOT touch someone inappropriately, or did not mean to do so? That American female police officer could have perfectly justifiably FAWKED me good, with absolutely nothing I could do about it.
    Quite frankly, if some woman for whatever reason identified me as a groper in Japan, I, like some have claimed to do, would just confess, pay the fine, be *immediately* released from custody to continue home, and live in secret shame, for the sake of myself and my family. It would simply NOT be worth fighting for the truth.
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/19/asia/AS-FEA-A-E-MOV-US-Challenging-Courts.php
    TRIGGER ALERT:
    http://www.japanfortheuninvited.com/articles/train-groping.html
    Please refer to the links at the bottom of the page, particularly the first Christian Science Monitor article. I like it as little as feminists do, but it has been officially recognized to be true – this ONE kind of “minor” crime, in Japan, has presented opportunities for some evil individuals or gangs to take monetary advantage of men’s fear and shame.
    “WTF.”
    I am sure many wonder why I keep on running off at the mouth about Japan at every opportunity. It is what I know best, and in Japan is shite you would never ever believe or imagine, and I will never forget. There is no wonder that most foreigners (even men who luv them hawt Asian women) and women in particular, leave quickly. Even I was unable to live with the thought of my kids going to school there, after 12 years of financial bliss.
    I hope the situation in Mexico, the US, or anywhere else people have mentioned, is not like in Japan (including the legal system), because in more ways than one, it is just evil, for women, and men.

  • Alias_Grace

    I’m torn on this one. I lived in Mexico City for two years as a teenager and experienced a lot of blatant sexual attention from men on the streets. On the one hand I am outraged that sexually abusive men are being sent the message that they don’t have to change. And what about women who still have to take regular buses? Will they be more likely to be considered fair game because they’re not surrounded by more women?
    On the other hand, I can only imagine the relief that these women feel when they know they can ride to work safely without having some jackass pawing at them. The women interviewed in the article are in their forties and sixties. They’ve been living with this reality every day since they were teenagers. I’m glad they have a chance to get a break.