06 July, 2011

A Moral Dilemma.

Last night on my way home after dinner (around midnight) I got a good taste of harassment from a crazy, vulgar Frenchmen.

I sat across from a man on the metro, whose penetrating eyes on my body made his misguidance evident, and within minutes he began to talk "at" me rather than to me, as I was but an object. He said some very inappropriate, crude, insulting, derogatory things to me (insinuating I was the kind of woman that would come home with him, to put it nicely), all of which elicited reactions from the other men on the train. I was grateful for the defense, as I really didn't know how to react. My first feeling was that of sympathy, as this man was clearly not right in the head. But then as he gestured to my exposed shins (I was wearing a just-below-the-knee dress, not at all scandalous) and stated, "C'est une salope," I was filled with the urge to punch him hard in the face, and spit on the ground in front of him. Instead, I alternated between laughing with the other bystanders at his impudence, and giving him stone-cold eyes for his abhorrent behavior.
The disturbing part of this situation was not the insult or debasement I received, nor was it even the disrespect for women in general that this man showed. Rather, it was the moral dilemma I faced afterwards, in trying to decide what would have been the most virtuous way to react. Was it virtuous of me to not really react to the man? Sure, it was safer and empathetic, as he was clearly not right in the head. But it also didn't feel just. I didn't do anything to teach or help the man, or even to simply defend myself against such degradation. I believe anger has its place, and I even think there are times it is important to react to the feeling of anger. But I also know the danger of such reactions, if improper.

Anyone who reads this, I would be really interested in hearing other perspectives on this situation. Please post a comment or contact me in some way :)


  1. That was probably the best way to handle it. You mentioned he didn't seem in his right mind. Taking into account the hour of the evening, I can only imagine. It is best to be above that type of thing. He's going to talk no matter what you say, it's better to not escalate the situation. Some guys don't take rejection very well. Not that you should have been concerned for his feelings, more the unpredictable nature of a guy not in a pleasant state of being.

    I'm sure it was comforting to have some helpful people in the car with you, instead of them just ignoring the situation. It could have been worse. At least it wasn't on an airplane with 'turbulence'.

  2. ok what do you mean "not right in the head"? If you mean mentally retarded, then yeah. by all means have a little sympathy for him be aware that he is probably not as capable as the rest of "them", to being appropriate to a women. But if by not right in the head you meant drunk, or stoned then I'm not entirely sure what there is to defend in this guy.
    I have found that most men who are that brazen shall we call it? Are really shocked when a woman strikes back. When that has happened to me (and I don't know how similar our experiences are) I ALWAYS stand up to them. I think men like that are generally predators and are looking for weak women. Now I know my husband does not like this tendency in me and would probably disagree with this advice. But thats really truly how I feel:) love ya, hate that you had to deal with this!