Dear Mr. Fedora-Wearing Hipster: An Open Letter to the Guy Who Thought it Was Okay to “Caress” Me on Public Transportation

Dear Mr. Fedora-Wearing Hipster,

Oh. Hell. No.

It was all right when you started to talk to me. I mean, it was late at night, I just wanted to get home, but I thought, “What’s the harm in a little small talk to shorten the bus ride home?” And do you know why I thought that? Because normal people aren’t maladjusted creepers like you.

You slithered from your seat over to where I was standing toward the back of the crowded bus. (Looking back, I should have seen it in your eyes. I should have seen myself reflected as an object in those desperate beady eyes of yours.) You look down at me and say “Hi, how are you?”

Already, you’re a little too close for comfort, but so is everyone else. It’s rush hour. Everyone’s just got off work or, like myself, gotten out of their last class of the day. My defenses are down and I let you stand very close to me.

I say “Hi” back and you begin to talk. And as you begin to talk, you continue to look at me that same way. I’m not a person. I’m a rabbit. A shivering, big-eyed rabbit. And you are starving. I can almost imagine you licking your drooling chops.

And because I’m not a person to you, you slink even closer to me your hip bumping mine and you have the freaking gall to just put your arm around me? Not only that, but you start “massaging” my neck? Not even Leonardo De-fucking-caprio would be allowed to do that, much less some hungry-eyed stranger with no sense of my humanity.

I froze and smiled nervously and left your arm there 5 seconds too long. I tell you that doesn’t make me comfortable and you reluctantly pull away but not far enough. That’s not even the best part. You then surmise that because I’m not comfortable with your disgusting arm around my neck that I would much, much rather you play with my hair? 

I should have clocked you right in the snout, you disrespectful pig.

But I didn’t. I laughed nervously and let you stand next to me for 10 more minutes. For 10 minutes I stood there, feeling impotent and grossed out with both you and myself. I wish I would have had the gumption to assertively tell you “No.” To tell you to back the hell off or I will go Crouching Tiger on you. The bus was filled with people who weren’t creepers. I would have had no trouble in sicking a mob on your wolfish ass.

But I didn’t. And I can continue to be mad at myself, mad at my learned helplessness and my seemingly self-perpetuated victimhood. But today, right now, I’m looking at you, you lowlife.

If our paths should ever unfortunately cross again, don’t you dare think for more than 2 seconds that you can touch me without my permission and get away with it again. Don’t you ever, ever think any woman in the world would want your dehumanizing treatment. Keep your dirty paws to yourself, you scum of the patriarchal earth. Your kind’s not wanted here.

Best of luck with continuing to fail at life,
Grossed Out Commuter

meryl streep devil wears prada bye thats all | the lonely tribalist

This happened about 4 years ago, during my freshman year of college. I’m still processing feelings over this incident and over whether I should even be dwelling on this for so long, since it didn’t end in tragedy. But fuck that guy’s behavior. I’ve learned a lot since then and hope I can help others not feel alone in having had to put up with this shit and a lot worse. It’s not your fault. Nothing we ever do deserves that kind of treatment. To Hell. With. That. With love- Michelle

34 Replies to “Dear Mr. Fedora-Wearing Hipster: An Open Letter to the Guy Who Thought it Was Okay to “Caress” Me on Public Transportation”

  1. Sorry for the long post, it is late and I have difficulty organizing my thoughts in a coherent and concise manner, I hope this helps and you understand what I am getting at.

    I am a male, and while I love women, I love them as people, not objects. If I wanted a “thing” I would go to a store and buy said thing. People are not things, and women are people too. That said, I understand the issue with the difficulty you are having getting past this issue. With current society the way it is, we Americans especially, often get stuck in the “that happens to other people” situation. Both men and women spend their entire lives being subjected to media and society, resulting in subtle, sometimes no so subtle, conditioning about proper behaviors, etiquette, and what is expected of them as men/women. While most of these trends in behavior are deeply rooted in our most basic instincts, they are tailor fitted to the conditions of modern society. One of those is that men pursue women, and that women are supposed to be appreciative of that attention, and that if the male is confident and sure of himself, that he is supposed to be a good male and thus one you should desire. Being polite in public, not causing a scene, and the most dangerous social conditioning of “that happens to other people” all stack up against you in situations like this. Your instincts immediately said “this is unacceptable” and you wanted to listen to them, but a lifetime of being to to be human and not just and animal that follows nothing but instinct prevented you from doing what you wanted. Look in at self defense classes, the biggest part of them is not the physical training, but the mental training. Getting past the social conditioning of so called polite society and learning not only how to hit physically, but how to mentally be able to hit someone is the most difficult part for anyone. Often, men as well as women, although because of the double standards that exist we men are expected to be able to fight and be MEN, have just as much difficulty with getting past these social stigmas. I know I do.

    but, to the other 7 billion, that is 7,000,000,000 people on this planet, you are the “other person” that things happen to.

    It is ok to make a scene.
    It is ok to bring harm to others.
    It is ok to deny a confident and assured male giving you attention.
    It is ok to to make decisions and take actions based upon instinct and feeling.

    It is ok to do what you feel is right.

    So don’t let this dig into you so much. I don’t condone his behavior, and you could not have done anything differently in that situation. if you could have reacted differently, then you would be a different person taking a different path in your life. You are whom you are. Most likely, if that same situation happened again you would probably react much the same. And I don’t say that to demean your or to imply weakness, but because you are who you are and because it is very difficult to change oneself. Just like the other commenter said about how it took several such situations for her to react. But when she did, it felt like one of the best things she has ever done. I am very particular about when I say could and would and mean each one as I put them.

    Don’t feel bad about reacting the way you did. All one can ever do is what they can do, and at that time, that is all you were mentally able to do. Take pride in that you were able to tell him at first that you didn’t like what he was doing. But his continued advances made it progressively more difficult to respond because it didn’t cause him to back off, merely change his approach. And when one builds the courage to act contrary to their conditioning, only to not have it result in any meaningful effect, that is hard to get past.

    Also, and this is important, If it was crowded, then most assuredly other people noticed what was happening. Even more so if it wasn’t. Who stepped in to help you and inform him that he was out of line?

    Nobody but you.

    You did good lady, you did real good.

    If you want to do better next time, of which I do so hope there never is, then take some minor self defense classes at least. If you can’t afford or schedule to make it to one, then watch youtube videos about how to protect yourself. How to disarm attackers with weapons, how to be aggressive, how to throw a punch without damaging your wrist. Get your friends together for a weekend and instead of bowling or watching a movie, go to a gym and do some boxing with each other and have fun. Getting past that lifelong trained in barrier is the most important thing you can do to keep yourself safe in the world.

    In society as in nature, predators rarely seek out the strong.

    Find your strong.


  2. Yikes Already! I imagine this kind of “in your space” treatment would be hard to shake. You’re absolutely correct though, how dare he? I suspect I may be a bit more assertive than you were back them, but I would have made him feel pretty small. My voice is quite deep and my hands would have searched out his balls had he kept this up. Between asking him to move away in a loud voice, and grab handling his person, he would have pulled the chain to get off at the very next stop. It’s NEVER a woman’s fault to be disrespected. No one should be disrespected by another human being. But you have to immediately make this clear. Shame on him!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a great letter, and yes, I’ve been there, on a bus with a stranger thinking he had rights. Sick, sick people in this world.
    We don’t want to make waves, it’s ingrained in childhood. I hope you’ve managed to delete this horrid event by writing about it. Writing helps me deal with my memories and my demons.

    Happy A to Z ing! Yay, the weekend’s here! 🙂
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Defending The Pen
    Murderous Imaginings

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Michelle, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m not in college yet and I have yet to experience something like this (I hope I never do), but I can empathize. Times when we should and could have spoken out, but we didn’t and just didn’t know why in retrospect. Even though it has been four years, you bravely spoke out and I’m sure others reading this would agree that this took tremendous courage. I know you responded to a previous comment that you were mulling over whether or not you should post this, and I’m thankful that you chose yes. Stay strong, you’re awesome. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We’ve all been there, and no shower ever quite washes it off. One of the highlights of my twenties came when I put an elbow as hard as I could into the ribs of a guy who was rubbing himself against me. I can’t remember anything that ever felt quite as good, and that includes things that have felt wonderful. But I could only do that after several times when I couldn’t bring myself to.

    And if anyone’s worried about aging, let me tell you that one of the wonderful things about it is that you become invisible to most creeps, and there’s a real freedom in that. I’m a friendlier and more relaxed person that I once was, because I can afford to be.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I hope I never have to do that, but that’s great that you did when you had to. Ugh, it’s a shame we have to become “invisible” to be harassed less, rather than actually be seen as human beings. Ugh. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I shared this on Facebook and WordPress. I am so sorry you experienced this kind of invasion of your privacy. You tell this as often as you feel like it! Every time you do, you take control of your future more and empower yourself and everyone you tell that they should be treated with respect. You must have been terrified that he would follow you. You did the best you could. You did the same thing that many others of us would have done. Do not feel ashamed. Hugs! I am proud of you for sharing this!!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. No, this isn’t your fault. I get the sense, in that you were(and maybe still are) mad at yourself that you think it was somehow. No. Just no.

    These kinds of encounters are scary. No matter how many gazillion people were on that bus. Somehow, in all the world, I’m not even sure that it’s the patriarchy that made this sicko feel so entitled. There are plenty of patriarchal men out there who wouldn’t have dared such a thing. No, this was some kind of psychopath/sociopath. *shudder*

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think moments like these stay with you because you didn’t speak out even though you were uncomfortable. At least that is how it is with me. I still rarely speak out when in these ucomfortable situations. I never understand why I have to verbally tell you not to touch me. I yearn to be able to stand up for myself in these scenarios. So sorry about your experience.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Deb. We’re trying and growing. And really, while it’s good for us to learn how to stand up for ourselves, all the responsibility really shouldn’t be put just on us. *sigh* Again, thank you for your supportive words!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. i’m really bad with words and i’m sorry you had to go through this. i really hope it gets better, it must have been horrible. its a really important subject and its so brave of you to talk about it 💜

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. I hate how some men think, just because you’re a woman, you deserve such treatment, that we are just objects for their own pleasure. It’s awful. But please don’t beat yourself up over it. Just because you didn’t respond how you would have wanted, that doesn’t by any means mean it is your fault. I think many of us would have responded just the same as you. No matter what your response, you never deserve to be treated in such a disrespectful way! Very glad you decided to share this.

    Liked by 4 people

Your turn:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: