Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Bus Stop Masturbator

Well just when I was thinking how lucky I am that I haven't been harassed lately...

I was waiting at the bus stop a little after 4pm, on my way home, there were people around; a woman sitting next to me on the bench at the bus shelter. This man in a forest green van (2 doors, tinted windows on the sides, BF Goodrich tires) pulls up into the bus stop and is just idling there. He's pulled up so that the passenger window is right in my line of vision about 4 feet away from me, and I see he's writing on some clipboards and shit. I think it's strange that he's just idling the van in the bus stop on a busy street while he does paperwork but people pick up and drop off friends there a lot and I figure he’s waiting for someone. After a few minutes of me spacing out I look up and see him stroking his erect penis. I immediately jump up, tapping the woman next to me on the shoulder and pointing at the van which is now pulling away. I tell her the man was exposing himself to us and she says "How do you know?"

How do I know?

I say, "I saw it!" I then chase after the van which is stuck at the light at the next corner hoping to get this predator's license plate number. He drives away before I can and I walk back to the bus stop where everyone is acting as if nothing has happened. Did they not hear me or notice what had happened? It’s surreal.

I’m so shaken and angry as I wait for the bus I’m thinking:

How dare this man think he can get away with that in the middle of the day on a crowded street! But you know what, he can. And he did. What would have happened if a man had seen him masturbating in public like that? "The man would have laughed." My husband said.

And that's the problem. We as a society refuse to see the big picture when it comes to sexual violence. Rather than seeing a continuum of acts which all hurt women and maintain our second-class citizen status, we prefer to see sexual violence as an anomaly and sexual predators as “crazies” operating in a vacuum. I’d love to write the Man in Green Van off as just crazy but if that were the case men exposing themselves to women would be rare. And it’s not. Every woman I know has been flashed or worse by a man at some point in her life-usually several times in her life.

Which is why it’s even scarier that men, and even some women, prefer to laugh it off when a man exposes himself to a woman; rolling their eyes at the “perv.” Or that they choose to deny the reality of the situation and instead doubt the victim when she states the truth - like the woman at the bus stop did by asking me: “How do you know?” As if I might just be hallucinating.

Studies have shown that sexual predators; rapists and child molesters, start out with small acts, like flashing, groping, or public masturbation, and then the longer they go with out facing any repercussions for these actions, they gain confidence, until one day they rape or even kill. And yet, when I call the police precinct closest to the bus stop they tell me I have to come in and file a report. Even though I live an hour away from the precinct closest to the bus stop. When I call the sex crimes hotline listed on the NYPD website they put me on hold for 5 minutes and then hang up on me. Clearly women’s safety is not a high priority. Stacks of unutilized DNA evidence from rape victims currently sitting in NYPD storage is a testament to that fact.
And people wonder why rape is the only crime in NYC that has increased even as ALL other crimes have decreased.

I wonder what the Man in Green Van is doing right now.

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