We have the right to exist in space

The cabaret performer Lili La Scala took the late train home last night after a performance in London. She likes to use the 55 minute trip to wind down. Last night a bunch of guys had other plans for her.

I stepped on to the train and assumed my usual corner seat, the one right at the front with a little table. Within a minute or so, five chaps of a rather burly description with shaved heads and assorted football wear, had claimed the seats around me.

They tried to strike up conversation but I’m rather taciturn on my homeward journey so I fended off the questions. However, now I feel bad about that, it was bad manners to not want to talk about myself to gents I’d never met, so I thought I might remedy my error and answer them right here.

Where have I been? I’ve been to work.

“You’re beautiful.” Thanks. I wasn’t looking for a late night affirmation from five men I’ve never met. I’m not sure any lone woman would welcome this sort of attention over and over again. Whilst you stare at them in a rather obsessive way. But, you know, thanks.

But not really. Guys, don’t do that. Don’t treat women as public property. That’s a simple enough rule isn’t it? Not hard to grasp? Don’t treat women as public property. Don’t surround them. Don’t hedge them in with your burly bodies. Don’t pester them. Don’t try to force them to talk to you. If they’re happy to chat, that will be obvious; if they’re not happy to chat, leave them the fuck alone.

“Your eyes are blue. I like blue eyes. Blue is my favourite eye colour.”
And a few more times, just in case I hadn’t heard. Not creepy at all.

“Are you naked under your coat?”  No. No I’m not. It’s winter. Who wants to travel home on a train at 11pm wearing nothing but a coat in winter. And you can see my blue dress under my coat. So I’m not sure why you’d ask this question.

Am I a ghost? No. If I were a ghost, I’d certainly haunt somewhere more salubrious than a train.

“Stuck up cunt.” I’m not. I just don’t want to a) fuck you b) make inane conversation with five drunk men I’ve never met before. Who’ve already asked me if I’m naked under my coat.

What was that we’re always being told about how “cunt” is not a hostile epithet for women in the UK? How it names only men? 

And then there’s “stuck up” – which implies that the only polite, democratic, egalitarian thing for her to do is chat with anyone who wants to chat with her, whatever her own plans may be. In other words, she’s public property.

You want to cum on my face. That’s nice. Really nice. Such a kind offer but, you know, I’m on my way home from work. I’ve done a show this evening, my serotonin and adrenaline have been absorbed by those glorious, happy faces, so I’m kind of tired. It was a Christmas show, so wrangling the audience and persuading them to my will took a lot of energy.
Also, we’ve never met.

Oh, you touched my foot. It’s ok, I can move my foot over here, closer to my other foot and further away from your feet. I’d hate for you to get the wrong idea, like I’m enjoying the taunts, jibes and come-ons from all five of you. I mean, I obviously am, right? You chaps are having a huge giggle. And me? Well, I’m stony silent, staring at my phone with my headphones on (FYI, noise cancelling doesn’t mean total noise blocking), shrinking into the corner whilst you mime something that appears to be me gargling, no not gargling, gobbling your man seed. I wouldn’t go down the mime road, if I were you chaps. Though, it was utterly clear to me so maybe it could be a career path for you once you stop hassling women on trains.

What’s depressing by this point is that no passengers intervened.

At that point she stood up and told them off, then moved to another seat.

I have the right to travel home in silence.
I have the right to travel home alone.
I have the right to not make small talk with drunk men I’ve never met.
I have the right to not be intimidated

I have the right. Women have the right. Every single woman has the right.

Just take your words and your looks and your, frankly awful, mimes and just go to fucking hell, you pieces of shit.

You are not taking my right to feel safe away from me. I am woman and have the right to exist in space without the fear of unwanted, unasked for attentions.

I was worried. I was scared and I was shaken.

Women are not public property.

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