The Vermont Cynic

It’s hard to stop sexual harassment

Staff Editorial

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We were on a Cynic-sponsored journalism trip to Dallas when a man started masturbating behind us.

Four of the five of us – the editor in chief, news editor, and former and current managing editors – are women.

We were exhausted after three flights from BTV to DFW.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is cheap, fast and clean, so we took the train to our hotel.

A man got into the same car and, though we were the only ones on the train, sat directly behind us.

We noticed immediately, but it was five minutes before one of us whipped around and told him to leave the car if he was going to keep touching himself and flashing us.

He was shocked that one of us confronted him. We were shocked that one of us confronted him.

He pulled up his pants and shuffled away from us. We almost didn’t say anything. Why?

It was partially the fear for our physical safety. Fear that this man, who was over six feet tall and nearly 100 pounds heavier than us, would physically retaliate.

Punch one of us in the eye. Knock out our teeth. Break our noses. Make us bleed.

It was the fear of creating a scene. We feared judgment from each other, that we were overreacting to a common occurrence. That someone would say we were being melodramatic.

And, sadly, we feared making him uncomfortable.

That it wasn’t our place to tell the man behind us to stop masturbating. That we should mind our own business: Grin and bear it.

You do not have to grin and bear it. It is not normal. If you see something, call it out. If you don’t feel comfortable, report it.

We refuse to be told this is how the world works.

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
It’s hard to stop sexual harassment