It is still happening all around us

Remember what I said about seeing women as the same kind of thing as a hamburger when you’re hungry? Dave Holmes at Esquire has the same thought.

Twenty years ago he saw a woman get sexually assaulted on the subway. She was on her way to work at the Fashion Cafe, wearing its uniform of tight T shirt with the logo and a miniskirt.

Here’s where my memory snaps into high-definition: The train approached the Rockefeller Center stop, and she moved toward the exit. A man, seated in the spot nearest the doors, looked her up and down. And then, as the doors opened, he got underneath her skirt and grabbed a handful of her.

It was not a pat, nor a goose, nor a pinch. He got all the way in there, for a full second. It was a grab that had steps to it. Movements. He seemed to know what he was doing, how to maximize that second. He had been here before.

So had she. I saw it in her face: This again. She swatted his hand away with her book, and joined the flow of people off the train. I saw her shoulders tense up as she walked away to start her shift.

What I remember most vividly was the look on the man’s face. Through this entire thing—this entire sexual assault—he looked utterly satisfied. He looked like a hungry bro in a fast-food commercial, about to take a big, well-deserved chomp out of that Carl’s Jr. half-pounder. He looked like he was about to take something that was his. Something he had earned. It was the worst smile I had ever seen, and I can still see it.

Because hey – there she is, wearing that thing that leaves her crotch just hanging there like fruit, ready for him to grab. Why would he not grab it? It’s public property isn’t it? Telling him not to grab it would be like telling him not to walk on the sidewalk. It’s there, it’s public, it’s available.

It is still happening all around us; we hear a man boast about the right to touch any woman’s body any way he wants to, because he has more money than she does and is on television, and we dismiss it as just the way men talk. We hear the stories of actual women who back his own boasts up, and we diminish their seriousness, because, well, there is rap music, so, you know.

For the love of God, some of us—even actual elected officials—continue to support the man’s candidacy for the President of the United States of America.

Women of the world, we have failed you. We have thoroughly, unfailingly, systemically failed you.

The question now, before we even begin to address forgiveness, is: Can we stop?

Some of you? Yes. More than that?

Well, I won’t say it.

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