Feminism Friday: Anatomy of a Tube Encounter

It’s a weeknight and it’s late. Two women with brightly coloured hair stand on the eastbound Jubilee Line platform at Waterloo – one red, and one orange. The train arrives and they sit near each other. A man in smart work clothing gets on and sits near both of them. As soon as the train pulls away, he opens his mouth to speak and he’s clearly quite drunk.

“Are you two friends?” – As an opening line, this is an interesting one. Nonthreatening yet laughable as, in his drunken state, he thinks that a liking for bright hair dye and a shared route home is enough to make us friends. I have no cause for complaint so (rather stupidly) I indulge him.

“You’re gorgeous” – After clearing up the ‘friends’ thing, we’ve now moved on to what’s really on his mind. Even a cynic like me can’t really react nastily to such an innocent compliment, but… well, we all know where this could lead, right?

“You know, my mate really wants to bang the two of you” – And there we have it. Seeing as he was on his own, we correctly surmised that this ‘friend’ was in fact him. He had the balls to say what was on his mind, yet still couldn’t really admit that he was thinking it.

“OK… ‘make love’. Let’s make love. You’re really sexy” – Seems he couldn’t quite believe that any woman would think a drunken stranger on a train saying he wanted to ‘bang’ her was a turn off. How could that possibly be offensive? Oh, yeah… birds find it sexier when you say ‘make love’.

“I just wanted to have a laugh” – Oh really? Well, we didn’t. We just wanted to go home. But, I forgot, what we want is unimportant. She ignores you (wish I could, but you’re making me angry now), and I tell you I feel uncomfortable and would rather you stopped talking to me but, rather than apologise, you’d prefer to insinuate that it’s my own fault I feel uncomfortable. Thanks for that.

He slumped down in his seat with his legs apart, waggling his tongue in what I can only assume was supposed to be a suggestive manner. I told him there was a fine line between banter and harassment. He told me that he worked out and thought I was beautiful… but he was married, so that made all this OK (apparently). After many requests, he eventually shut up at Canary Wharf. The woman with the orange hair got off at North Greenwich, touching my hand gently and smiling with sympathy as she did so. He left too, very quietly. Dick.

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