Today a man exposed himself to me on the train platform for the redline at Downtown Crossing.
I was walking towards a bench when I noticed a man standing against the wall and grinning wildly. When he saw I was looking at him, he spread his arms wide, revealing his penis hanging out of his pants.
I guess the look of shock and horror on my face was enough for him because before I could even process what happened, he walked away down towards the orange line.
I felt completely helpless. No one else saw what happened and there weren’t any t cops around. I didn’t even know what I’d say. Was it that big of a deal? The guy was long gone and I just wanted to be on my way and forget it even happened. It’s not like I was really hurt or threatened, right?
But I did feel overwhelmingly disgusted. I felt dirty. I felt violated. I felt alone.
What right did this guy have to make me feel this way? Why didn’t I do something? He will just keep doing this and what if he escalates and actually attacks someone? I could’ve stopped him but I froze. I could’ve screamed but I was silent. I could’ve found someone to give a description to but I just went on pretending I (and the situation) was fine.
I’m not trying to blow this out of proportion and I know I’ll be fine, I just feel like what happened and my reaction to it is representative of what occurs on a daily basis in our society. I fulfilled the stereotype of the powerless and ashamed victim. Someone crossed the line, got away with it, and the innocent person suffered the negative consequences.
I wish I could go back and use all of my knowledge and available resources to stand up for myself and rally against this man’s illegal actions. Instead I have to accept that fear took over in the moment when it counted. That weakness, that vulnerability, is what scares me the most.
I keep scrubbing my skin raw but this target on my back won’t disappear.