I Was Harassed on a Plane. Stop Asking What My Husband Was Doing.

Posted on
Aug 25, 2016
Posted in: Personal Essay

 

On Monday, I wrote about an incident that happened to me on a recent international flight. A passenger became verbally abusive and physically intimidating because I reclined my seat. It terrified me, and the flight crew moved us, after the guy made it clear that if I reclined my seat again he would not stop tormenting me. He told the flight crew this as well.

The response to that post has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

“I know that fear you are speaking of- it nestles in the stomach and then surges to every inch of body.”

“If anything, you under-reacted to him, and thus forced your body to react with panic instead.”

“What a waste of a human.”

“It’s a terrifying world for women, we put up with this in everyday life.”

“I find myself panicking with empathy.”

“You were amazing and held the high ground, where this man has obviously never been.”

“I see you, and hear you, and agree with you. Fuck that fucking fucker.”

“You know I would Cut A Bitch for you, so just say the word.”

 

But of course, the internet is open to not only awesome people but the bowels of humanity, too, so I’ve dealt with people claiming that this didn’t actually happen, that I’m exaggerating or making it up, that the photos of me are faking, that I shouldn’t have been reclining my chair. The way in which these morons have managed to cover nearly every issue faced by women who report harassment has almost been impressive, were it not such a shitty and worthless accomplishment.

“Not sure I’ve ever seen a bigger mountain made out of a molehill in my life.”

“You weren’t beaten, you didn’t have your firstborn child taken, you didn’t have to declare bankruptcy, you weren’t in a car wreck.” 

“You felt entitled to increase your space at the expense of his. Sounds selfish to me.”

“Wow I think the author fits the definition of ‘whiny bitch’ quiet precisely.”

“Self regarding, self pitying attention seeker, grow the fuck up”

 

(All typos and grammatical errors theirs, of course.)

 

My friend Celeste put it best:

 

She’s so right. And I think another part of this equation is how Rand has been treated in all of this. A lot of people have asked why he didn’t intervene, and frankly, that irritates the fuck out of me (also, didn’t they just accuse me of faking? There’s your answer!). I don’t think I should have to explain why Rand didn’t engage an unhinged person on a plane. However, because I have been dealing with comments like this from primal dipshits who somehow think my husband’s actions are cowardly, I feel the need to talk about it.

“As for the girly man she was traveling with…”

“If someone talked to my fiance that way, I wouldn’t just ignore it.”

 

Rand doesn’t need to be defended. He did nothing wrong. So let’s be clear: this post is for me. Because the people who think this shit are part of the problem – they’re scrutinizing the wrong man’s actions. Here is why my husband didn’t get into an altercation with my harasser, and why you need to stop asking about it:

 

  1. HE WAS BARELY CONSCIOUS, YOU FUCKHEADS. The guy behind me had been holding my seat up for a while. A good amount of time elapsed before he let my seat down and engaged in a verbal confrontation with me, and I suspect now that he had been timing it to see that Rand was out of commission. It was also why he tested the waters with Rand when Rand lowered his seat – he saw that Rand was out of it, and didn’t even understand why the guy wanted him to adjust his seat. Rand just curled up and went back to sleep. He missed the first shaking of the chair, and only woke up around the end of the discussion, which lasted probably a minute or two at most. The guy behind me planned his attack carefully.
  2.  To Him, I was Angry, Not Upset. Rand had no idea I was scared – I didn’t break down until long after I left the cabin and walked to the back of the plane. To him, I was angry, and Rand knows to let me work through that. Something that I often tell him is this: “You need to be comfortable with me expressing my anger.” Me telling this guy that I thought he was rude doesn’t communicate fear – it communicates annoyance. And trust me when I tell you that regardless of what Rand had said or done, standing up for myself to that guy was something that I needed to do for my own sanity.
  3.   If Rand got involved, there would be two options. Both would be bad.

    The first option would be that he acquiesces to what this guy wants and “compromises” – in other words, I can’t recline my seat. Which is unfair, and completely undermines me, my feelings, and is really fucking insulting. Basically, it would be Rand saying, “Honey, do what the man says.” Rand told me he absolutely wouldn’t risk robbing me of my agency. And given that the man was completely inflexible and hostile, this would have been the only course of action that wouldn’t have led to him becoming more aggressive. But it would have been horrible for me.

    The other option is that Rand engages the hostile, abusive guy, and it becomes confrontational. Remember, this dude was so rude to flight crew that they had to step away from the situation. He clearly didn’t give a fuck about other passengers, and he wasn’t afraid to resort to physical intimidation. And if it *had* gotten violent? How would we have proved that this guy started it? I wrote about this post and had the flight crew entirely on my side AND PEOPLE ARE STILL TELLING ME I’M EITHER LYING OR EXAGGERATING. If two passengers get into a fight, the powers that be don’t sit around figuring out fault. They punish both. Rand wasn’t going to escalate the situation and get arrested or – even worse – get us put on a no-fly list which would have been disastrous for both our careers. Not to mention the fact that Rand isn’t violent – he’s above that shit and has more self-control than I’ve ever seen. But dipshits somehow think that getting into fights is brave. Fuck you, dipshits. You’re the cowards.

    Lindy West wrote about how a guy she knew threatened her (said he was going to “push her down some stairs.” Jokingly, of course, because that’s what trolls do – they pretend they’re kidding). He then found out she was going to be at an event with her husband that he was attending, and out of fear the troll BROUGHT A GUN AND A KNIFE. Lindy’s husband hadn’t had any interaction with this guy before or during this – he was just at an event with his wife who had been threatened. That’s what women face at the hands of misogyny – our harassment doesn’t just endanger us – it endangers the people who love us.
  4. I have a feminist motto. I got it from a pencil that I gave a friend (Shut up, I can get mottos from pencils). It’s this: “I will rescue myself. Thanks.” Rand knows this. He knows that I need to make myself feel safe without his help, because if I don’t do that then I will never feel safe unless he’s around. And that’s fucking bullshit. That’s not a way to live. I need to know that I can sleep comfortably when he’s not there.
  5. This mentality is part of the problem. Having my husband engage this guy means that my words and my boundaries are not enough. It means that the only time a woman is valued is when she’s with a man. That they get to fight over us like property. It’s why when I walk through the park alone I’m catcalled and when I walk through with Rand, I’m not. It’s why when guys creepily hit on me, that’s okay, but when they see I’m with Rand THEY FUCKING APOLOGIZE TO HIM. Not to me. To him. As my friend Jonathan noted: she doesn’t need a husband around to guarantee she gets treated like a human. But that is the only way that it happens, it seems, and sometimes, not even then.

Someone asked me if Rand was supportive after this all happened. I told them how he walked me through my panic attack and comforted me – but how he didn’t actually engage the guy.

“Well, of course not. That wouldn’t have been supportive. That would have escalated the entire conflict – that’s what animals do. That would have terrified you even more.”

And one of the ways that he was supportive after the events was this: He knows that I deal with difficult stuff by blogging about it, so I asked him to take a photo of me post-panic attack, which he did. I’ve been told that this is further evidence that I was faking and exaggerating, instead of what it truly is: evidence that I know myself. I knew I’d need to write about this. And I thought it would be important for people to see what harassment does. Funnily enough, it’s the same people who think he’s a coward who couldn’t handle it:

“And yeah, the pics of you crying? You’re overreacting, if not outright acting.”

(Wait, I can act? I’M A DOUBLE-THREAT.)

“Not sure there was a victim here. For an event that may or may not have happened the way she claims. Again, Rand didn’t jump in. The guy’s seatmate didn’t say anything. The flight attendants didn’t see fit to punish him in anyway (cuffs, cops, etc.)” 

(The seatmate, for the record, was another woman who didn’t know him before the flight.)

“Isn’t it also possible that it didn’t happen the way she claims? For example, the dude thought she aggressively slammed her seat back into him (with sudden jarring, her seat reclined by her own admission) and he wasn’t polite to her and she is OVER-REACTING…” (sic, sic, sic)

(The seat suddenly reclined because the guy finally stopped holding it up.)

 

After this all went down, Rand hugged me. We talked. He cracked terrible jokes and told me it was going to be okay. He never questioned me for a fucking second. Not one. There was no reality in which I wasn’t in the right. He has never been anything but supportive. But I think that the trolls can’t handle that. They need to pick it apart so that they feel better about their own loneliness.

Women everywhere experience this, and far, far, far worse every day. And this is how some of the darker corners of the internet chose to respond.

 

“If this qualifies as a major trauma in your life, then I envy your life, because you haven’t had many bad things happen to you.”

 

Fuck that. I’ve experienced trauma before. All women have, simply by virtue of being women. And it doesn’t make you stronger when more trauma comes. It terrifies you.

The question we should be asking isn’t “Why didn’t your man fight your battles for you?” The question we should be asking is “Why do we, as women, have to fight so many battles in order to be treated like a human?”

I suspect we’ll be waiting for an answer to that one for a long time.

Leave a Comment

  • Steph

    I love everything about you (internet you, ya know … because I don’t actually know you … although I can safely assume I’d love the IRL you too)

    You are awesome.
    You are beautifully and wonderfully made.
    To quote above “Fuck that fucking fucker” and also – fuck the fucking trolls … ain’t NOBODY got time for THAT!

    Keep your chin up – maybe one day we won’t be treated as a sub-class.

    • Everywhereist

      Oh, Steph.

      I shouldn’t cry over a comment, but here we are. Thank you for this. For what it’s worth, I’m basically the same in person as I am on the internet, but a lot gassier.

      • Steph

        All of my wildest dreams about you have just come true 😉

        Can’t wait for your book!

  • Picquet

    Rationalise as much as you like (and you do, a lot), but the fact remains that your ‘husband’ is a wet lettuce leaf. Very like you.

    • Mr. Smith

      Is your manhood intact? Feel better? Good. We’re all very happy for you.

    • I’d rather have a wet lettuce leaf than a man who needs to assert his manliness by blatantly harassing women or engaging in battles of manhood with potential harassers. No one wins in those situations.

    • Becky Mahan

      Teehee. Better a wet lettuce leaf than a steaming pile of self-entitled, judgmental shit.

  • Mr. Smith

    I have the privilege of knowing both internet you and in-person you. I like them both. I also like that upsettlingly handsome husband of yours. And even though we live about six miles apart and never see each other, you both remain two of my favorite people. Your kindness and humor and generosity and HONESTY are unassailable. To echo previous commenter, “Fuck those fuckers. They’re fucked.” You? You’re the business. And now, after two days of complimenting you, I will go back to saying terrible things just so you don’t think I’m getting soft.

    • Everywhereist

      Thank you, Assface.

      • Mr. Smith

        Anytime, dummy.

  • It’s amazing as women how much we experience this bullshit. So many times I have been blatantly hit on or harassed by a guy at a bar and I point out that my husband is that big guy over there with the beard and I’m not interested and suddenly they are the most apologetic, polite human ever to walk this earth. My husband does not validate my need to be respected. You should just respect me because I am human.

    Thank you for being so vocal about this on your blog and on social media. You are truly fighting the good fight and your response, your feelings and your experience is valid.

  • Cindy Robin

    I wish someone would post a photo of this guy, so he could be recognized as the asshole he is.

  • Pamm McFadden

    I read your blog entry and was infuriated for you. I then had the occasion to re-read it as someone else reposted it on their blog. I joined in the comments there.

    Nearly without exception, every single nasty comment was from a man. To be sure, some were supportive and apologized on behalf of their gender, but all other asshat comments were from men.

    And that then, is the root of the problem.

  • Creatch

    I was thinking of your article from Monday as I was getting harassed while waiting for my tram this morning. This guy would not leave me the f*ck alone. He kept asking if I was happily married (I’m married), and if I had kids or was pregnant because otherwise he couldn’t be possibly sure I was happily married enough. As if the only thing preventing me from being interested in this creep was the fact that I “belonged” to someone else. I could feel my pulse in my ears I was so angry. This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Thanks for being brave enough to face the trolls by speaking out against mistreatment.

    • Everywhereist

      Oh my god. I am so so sorry that you had to go through that. Dear god.

  • This and your original post. If I wasn’t already metaphorically camped out on your doorstep waiting for your book to come out, these two posts would be what made sure I was.

    I have been watching and following the reaction to your original post (I mean, I’ve bugged you relentlessly about it on Twitter so you probably already know that part…) and I have to say… not a single cell in my body was surprised to discover 96% of the negative reactions were from men. I kind of expected it. I would have been shocked if that WEREN’T the case.

    Women are abused, harassed, or threatened. They speak up, and suddenly the entire situation becomes all about breaking down the ways they either didn’t behave exactly right or must have been lying about the whole thing. Because there isn’t a world in which women are routinely subject to daily harassment, oh no, that’s just crazy talk.

    One response on Twitter really got to me, which was something like “your inability to defuse the situation reflects on you, not him”. And that was such a blatant “You should have just done what the Man wanted, because he is a Man and you are a Lady and therefore wrong” response. It was so. fucking. blatant.

    As women, we are supposed to acquiesce. We are supposed to soothe, to coo, to give in, to give up, not to stand up for ourselves, not to insist that we deserve to be treated like human beings. In the mind of this guy on Twitter, it was on you to give up and do what a Man wanted rather than it being on the Man to be even remotely polite to you. It was somehow your responsibility to avoid conflict rather than his not to instigate it in the first place.

    And if they can’t get you to admit some sort of bullshit culpability, they’ll turn on Rand and try to make HIM the bad guy. Anyone but the asshole who was rude in Seat D7. Anyone but him. It has to be a woman’s fault, or the fault of a man attached to that woman, but it’s never the fault of the asshole in D7.

    • Everywhereist

      Katie, thank you for this. Thank you for your eloquent comments and your takedown of the broken system that we all live in.

      And as for “bugging” me on Twitter? You and I clearly have different meanings of that word. Your support and tweets have been everything and I am so grateful for them.

  • Becky Mahan

    Good. flipping. grief. This is why, unfortunately, my joy of blogging has been, even so slightly, diminished because of the self-entitled opinions of people who feel they know a situation or a story better than the way you tell it, and jump to conclusions on their own. They wanted to read something OUTRAGEOUS and earth-shattering, and when it doesn’t shatter their incredibly desensitized world, they get angry and scoff. And then they make you feel small. And they leave comments and say things they would never fucking say to your face. Thank you, Internet anonymity, for fostering the growth of asshats. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I would have been terrified and angry and freaking out just like you…and guess what, just because some people would not have reacted that way DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE OVERREACTING. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It’s how you reacted and how the situation made you feel and damn it, some people would have reacted even more intensely. And for everyone who thinks they know better and can draw conclusions and make accusations based on their interpretation of a written retelling of a situation that they did not experience firsthand, they are the epitome of the cases you read about in psychology textbooks. So I’m sorry people are fucktards about it, but try your best to internalize the fact that their opinions literally mean nothing, and their statements have zero weight. And have a glass of wine. Or a bottle.

    • Everywhereist

      Thank you so much, Becky. These last few days have taught me one thing: there are amazing women and men out there, and so. damn. many. of. them. read. my. blog.

      It’s really humbling.

    • Jamie Mackenzie

      “This is why, unfortunately, my joy of blogging has been, even so
      slightly, diminished because of the self-entitled opinions of people” And yet you cannot see the irony in your own statement, fuck me but you’re thick!

      • Becky Mahan

        Actually no, you’re right – I unintentionally mis-worded that statement. Thank you for doing it in such a nice way – “fuck me, but you’re thick” is the kind of comment we bloggers love to see and read, and is frankly exactly what I was referring to in the first place. 🙂

        • Jamie Mackenzie

          No you’re welcome, nothing like feeding a narcissist for fun.

        • Everywhereist

          I blocked him, but isn’t it sort of ridiculous that they deny misogyny by spreading more misogyny? I mean, WHAT?

          Ignore him, Becky. Of course that sort of thing makes you want to step away from writing – that’s what they want. To silence you. I say you shout your message from the rooftops. We’re listening.

  • Beth

    You are all levels of awesome.
    The trolls know this and are just jealous of the awesomeness.

    Spot on. All of it.

  • J Tidrick

    I saw the comments go from very supportive to, lets just say less than desireable, and just thought really??? Someone can read this vivid accounting and their take away is she’s over reacting or Rand should have done something? So I went back and reread it- nope, still not getting any of those reactions. So I asked my husband (who is equally as awesome as Rand) his thoughts, just in case you know, I was overreacting or something… His take was that you handled it perfectly, by yourself, for yourself (and that even had he been awake, it would have been foolish on many levels for Rand to get involved) Guess my husband just likes strong women.. The trolls need to go back and hide under the bridges where they belong.

  • Margaret Handshoe

    I’m so sorry this has happened to you. I forwarded your first blog to my husband, who travels constantly on airplanes for business and he said he “totally knows that guy.” Obviously, not that guy, but his kind. I then remembered him telling me about some asshole he’d delt with a couple of months ago on a plane. Your story alarmed me, because it just seems extra dangerous to be cornered and intimidated by someone when you are in a tin can flying 30,000 feet above the ground, where you have no escape. Thanks for writing this story anyway, despite the negative and ugly comments.

    I love your travel writing. A few years ago, I read your blog on Munich, Germany- and I followed some of your tips and my trip was enhanced because of it. Keep on keeping on.

  • Colleen Sweeney

    If I had been the woman in the seat next to him, I would have been extremely upset that this guy was speaking to you and treating you in such a terrible manner, but I would not have said anything. Judging by his actions, speaking up and trying to defend the other person might have resulted in something truly awful. I don’t believe in standing aside and allowing someone to be brutalized (I would definitely step in and call the police if I saw someone being beat on in public), but I would have also been genuinely scared to step in and say something to this guy. I realize that sounds totally shitty, but that is how I feel.

  • Amy

    Those fucks. I have been thinking a lot, recently, about this fear that I, as a woman, move through the world with. How I have a constant, low level fear of strange men, because of the actions of a very few. Reading that post made me feel all of the anger and helplessness that I feel in situations like these. It’s not overreacting. It’s the sad reality.

    • Everywhereist

      I’m so sorry that you – and virtually every woman I know – relates to this story so well, Amy. Solidarity.

  • Ugh, I KNEW when I read your last article that there would be trolls saying stuff like that. Seriously, fuck them. These kind of altercations are real, terrifying and all too frequent.

    Just the other day I was out for a run and came up on a man jogging ahead of me. He looked over his shoulder and when he saw me his pace slowed way down. My adrenaline immediately spiked and I slowed down as well. He kept glancing behind him and then abruptly stopped and sat on a bench alongside the trail. One side is fenced and the other wooded so my options were limited. I sped up as I ran past him and he casually said “Hi, beautiful lady.” I broke into a full-out sprint and he yelled after me that I was a “stuck up bitch.” I was so scared I could barely breathe. I got back to my apartment and didn’t stop shaking for over an hour.

    What makes me even more angry is that I know it wouldn’t have happened if my partner had been with me and that’s bullshit. It’s bullshit for a woman to be seen as a target without a man “defending her” and it’s bullshit for a man to be held responsible for “defending his woman.”

    You’re a strong woman who handled the situation like a boss & your husband is a great guy who respects your capability. Cheers to you both! 🙂

    • Everywhereist

      Jesus Christ, that is so fucking scary. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Mandie. I’m so glad you were able to run like hell.

    • PdxOregon

      I get that at some point a man will see a woman and be interested in her but while someone is jogging that is not the time or place to make a move. And once said move is made then if they are rejected they should deal with it like a… hmm I don’t know, perhaps a man. I mean calling someone a stuck up bitch? Wow that’s a grade A junior high school insult.

  • Jimmy Winskowski

    Super sad that you even had to take the time to write this post or explain the situation. Neither your actions nor Rands’ require any explanation. Sorry to hear that you were put in this scenario in the first place. No one deserves to deal with this type of crap.

    • Everywhereist

      Thanks, Jimmy.

  • Helena Baggins

    I know that violence is wrong, but whenever I read something like this, I just get the urge to start up an all-female gang that roams around with Louisville Sluggers and beats the shit out of men who look at us funny. I guess I’m getting crankier as I age. Having a daughter who is gorgeous, petite, and routinely harassed doesn’t help either.

  • PdxOregon

    You know as a woman I want to say to other women don’t be afraid to be LOUD. Your voice deserves to be heard. I was waiting for the bus years ago and don’t even remember what time of day it was, 5 pm? 8pm? Pretty sure it wasn’t past 10. Well as I was waiting some guy just grabs my arm. I pulled away and started yelling at him, and I do literally mean yelling, at him that how dare he touch me. He was drunk and started to apologize and I contiuned to yell at him saying that he has no right to touch me and to never do that to a woman particularly in downtown etc. etc. There were a few others at the bus stop but they said nothing, not sure if it was because I had it under control or if it was just the weird social thing that happens when people see bad stuff but say nothing.

    I know getting LOUD isn’t appropriate in every situation but I do think women need to use their voice more forcefully than they often do. I’ve had guys hit on me and I’m not always interested. At first I will politely tell them I’m not interested, because I don’t think every man has ill intentions and people deserve respect, but if they don’t back down you can bet I’m stepping up my tone and my words will become even more clear and direct.

    Don’t be afraid to tell any man or any woman no.

  • douglas gray

    : “I will rescue myself. Thanks.”
    But you didn’t. you enabled the abuser, congratulations.

    • Mon

      In what way exactly? Would it have been better for anyone if she sat there for hours feeling uncomfortable but having the so-called moral high ground? Or engaging in a dispute, elevating the abuser and escalating the situation even more in the confines of an aircraft? I cannot see a win for anyone here, really

  • Mon

    Erm, hang on a minute – why does your lovely husband have to justify his actions, instead of that self-entitled waste of oxygen in the row behind you? I don’t even see why what Rand did or did not do is the issue here – the issue is that someone was behaving in an intimidating and threatening manner towards you when you did something that you are perectly entitled to – I nearly hit the roof when I saw he was reclined himself. GRRRR. Hope they blacklisted the moron. Sorry you had to deal with this, I fly a lot and this would be my worts nightmare.

  • Wendy Hinxman

    I am so sorry you went through that crap on the plane, and then you write about it, and people give you more crap. And say that you’re fibbing. WTF? It took me three weeks to get through Laura Bates book Everyday Sexism because it was so upsetting. Why people don’t realize that women are not effing lying or exaggerating is beyond me. I hope that idiot guy develops anal fistulas.

  • Mary

    The thing about nasty hateful people is they have to spread their hate. It’s like they have a virus, and the virus compels them to spread it around. The vast majority of your readers are in your corner, rooting for you. If we all commented, you would be overwhelmed by the support and love. So here’s mine. You are awesome, you did nothing wrong, you handled the situation in the best way possible.

  • Jessica

    I was incredibly confused by your first post, and now I’m just baffled. Why would anyone treat you that way over a reclined seat in the first place, but why on earth would anyone ever make that up?

    Even from across the internet it’s obvious that you and Rand care deeply about one another and are one of the cutest couples on this planet. And I think it’s amazing that he knows the way you need to process things and that you can take care of yourself.

    You are fucking awesome. Rand is awesome. Some people are just shitty.

  • Kelly

    Yes, yes, and YES to all this. I wanted to comment on your last post but was on mobile and I hate typing long things on a tiny keypad. How utterly maddening to give an honest and moving account of something that happened to you and then to have strangers question how it made you feel and whether it could’ve *actually* happened like that. And then to have them call your guy into question with some gross underlying assumption that if a man doesn’t immediately jump in to defend *his woman,* there’s something wrong. Ugh. No. Just stop.

    The situation was horrible, and I would’ve felt and reacted SO similarly to how you did. And if my partner jumped in to fight with this guy? I would have been PISSED.

    Haters to the left!

  • Lori Baker

    One day people will realize that women are not responsible for keeping everyone in line and men are not required to save us. We’re closer then we’ve ever been, but not. quite. there. yet.

    I’m terrified when I’m harassed, but I stand up for myself. Whether it’s yelling or calmly pointing out that their behavior is not acceptable or removing myself from any situation where I don’t feel safe even when others tell me I’m over reacting.

    Years ago I attended a Women as Leaders conference in DC and a group of us went to check out the sites when one super creepy guy started following us and we all were terrified and suddenly I realized that guy was out numbered. Even if he tried something we could totally take him. So I mentioned in a loud voice that there was one of him and 6 of us and that we could take him if needed. He quickly left, but I thought it was fascinating that 6 feminists could be so intimidated by one creepy guy and feel incapable of doing anything about it. Now I speak up. The fear has never gone away, but I am so proud of myself for not letting them get away with horrible behavior. Once I’m away from it, I sometimes start shaking and crying and that’s normal too. It was scary!

    You did the right thing. Telling him his behavior was unacceptable, asking the flight attendants for help. You nor Rand did anything wrong. That guy was the worst. I’m glad the majority of the folks commenting agree. And the rest can suck it.

  • There was an article I read about women having to “prove” how much in pain they are at emergency rooms in order to get the same level of treatment as men. This is it: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/emergency-room-wait-times-sexism/410515/

    Very interesting, and quite emotional. Although I didn’t know about this before reading the article, it totally makes sense to me given how our society is.

    “Why do we, as women, have to fight so many battles in order to be treated like a human?” —> YES!!! This is exactly it!

  • Melisa

    This…Number 5: Having my husband engage this guy means that my words and my boundaries are not enough. It means that the only time a woman is valued is when she’s with a man…

  • Shrivallabh Bharatiya

    When are you going to go back to your normal happy go lucky fun self? I like that Geraldine. I am not enjoying the last two posts. I want my people to be happy- you are my people.

  • Olga Gutierrez

    I was on a flight from Rome to Philadelphia next to a man that acted the way you described. He chatted me up before take-off. Then he proceeded to harass the woman in front of him whenever she tried to put her seat back. He only did it twice. But she kept putting the seat back so the third time she put her seat back, he got up to use the bathroom “accidentally” pulling a chunk of her hair. She was understandably very upset. She asked her husband to intervene and her husband was unsure how. He confronted the man. The man brushed it off as the woman being unreasonable and bullying the husband as well. The woman called the flight attendants and they had a stern talk with the man. Luckily, this calmed the man down. The flight was full so no one could be moved. I stared straight ahead for the next 8 hours of the flight, watching the tv, not even blinking for fear of engaging this man. I commend you for not blaming Rand. From what I saw on that plane, her husband was as much a target of the bullying as she was and if he had engaged more it would not have ended well. The woman was not as understanding and I truly felt sorry for her husband as she was visibly upset with him for not standing up for her more (in her opinion). As a single female passenger sitting next to the aggressive man, I was relieved that her husband didn’t engage more. It is truly a scary and awful situation.

  • I read this post first, then went back to read Monday’s. I got to the part where he shook your seat and no. Wow. My own heart rate immediately skyrocketed and my hands started trembling. And I’m sitting here rocking a nursing baby – I couldn’t have been calmer to start out, and I still immediately launched into fight or flight mode.

    To every coward shit stain of a man who thinks this wasn’t a big deal, I invite you to firstly, eat my farts and then roll around in a pile of glass, but more importantly think about how you’d react if every. single. interaction you had outside your home had the potential to spiral into that feeling you got when the biggest bully in middle school backed you into a corner and threatened to beat your face in. You start wincing every time that guy comes near you. Even if he just fake jumps at you to make you flinch, then laughs at you – I mean nothing HAPPENED right? He didn’t even touch you! Toughen up and stop overreacting. Why does his behavior even bother you? God, get over it.

    And now imagine that bully has the ability to jump into the body of literally any male human on earth, so you never know which of the dozens or hundreds or thousands of men you might share air with on a given day may be the one who suddenly shoves you into a wall and laughs when you ask them to stop, or the one who just jumps at you to make you flinch, or just raps you once in the stomach to make you double over but come on it’s not like you’re really hurt, man up you pussy ugh. He probably didn’t even really hit you, did he. Are you just looking for attention? Is this you acting out? Besides if all he’s doing is trying to scare you just don’t let it bother you, duh. Or tell him to stop. Easy.

    I’m sure you remember how well it worked to ignore bullies at school. About as well as it worked to ask them nicely to stop.

    What am I saying – none of this will be a useful thought excercise for the men acting this way, because they WERE the playground bully.

  • jonathanwthomas

    Well said! And thanks for the mention.

  • Points 4 & 5 – EXACTLY.
    None of the other explanations are even necessary.
    I grew up in India and have heard shit like this all the time – don’t go there alone, have your brother/father/uncle/male friend accompany you, if you dress like that or talk like that you will be harassed etc. I made sure to never listen to any of that drivel.
    The world needs to evolve, period. And that includes those women who are always waiting for a man to rescue them.

  • Roxana Johnson Nelson

    “You’re overreacting.” The most dangerous thing we say to women.

    • Everywhereist

      It’s just another way of controlling women, and making us think that our emotions and feelings are invalid. So fucking infuriating.

  • PiedPiper

    First off, I can’t believe you went through that. No, I should say, I’m so sorry you went through that! But as a female human that is alive right now, I’m not surprised. I was even a flight attendant once upon a time and have also seen the strange effect planes seem to have on some people. But still, I’m sorry you had that experience.
    I was recently out backpacking with my boyfriend and we passed a large group of men and teenage boys. One of the men asked us where we were going. I replied that we had about a 6 mile hike in front of us, purposefully vague. He asked again, “but where are you camping?” My boyfriend then replied with our actual destination. Then another man in the camp asked the same thing in a manner I felt was aggressive. The whole thing completely unnerved me and I was considering whether we should change our plans and camp somewhere else so they couldn’t find us. I expressed this to my boyfriend and he was really surprised, it hadn’t even occurred to him to be worried or feel threatened. We ended up sticking with our destination and it turned out to be fairly crowded so I felt safe, but I was really struck by how differently we experience the same things. If I had been alone I would have gone to a different spot, or I would have evaded their questions and never told them where I was headed even if I came off as rude.
    I feel like as women we have been forced to act as prey animals in some way, and we experience life through that lens. And of course, we actually have the experience of being preyed upon repeatedly through our lives so it makes sense. It just sucks.
    And lastly, I think you handled yourself extremely well! Both in the incident and in these blog posts.

  • Jen Marsden

    OMG Geraldine what a tool! Kudos to you for being the better person than that fucktard, I can’t believe that he wasn’t escorted off the plane directly to a holding cell vaguely resembling something from Guantanamo, or that online trolls are trying to bully you for posting this. I swear I’m constantly stunned at the level of stupidity, ignorance and arrogance that we as the human race seem to be embracing as life skills.

    Anyway on this occasion your pencil was definitely mightier than his sword.

  • Everywhereist

    Oh, dear god. Kathryn, I am so, so sorry you went through that. Jesus H. Christ. That sounds terrifying.

  • Team ‘fuck those fuckers’. I’m so sorry you had to deal with both the plane-based aggro and the aftermath.

  • Sara Reed

    Hi Geraldine! Long time reader. First time poster.

    I have to say that I was disappointed in your response to this asshat. (Please hear me out!). I was disappointed that you and Rand have not learned the amazing life lesson that the Universe has given you!!! In any situation that the fates send your way…you have been given the answer. All you have to do is ask yourself
    “What would Busky Chow Chow do?”.

    Would Busky Chow Chow get emotional and allow this jerk to intimate him?

    HELL NO!

    Busky Chow Chow would snarl and show his teeth! And if that didn’t work, Busky Chow Chow would pee on his leg! I guarantee you Geraldine, that if you had barked like an angry chow and peed on his leg, he would have left you alone. Like, REALLY ALONE!

    This question can find you the answer to every problem:

    Should I drink and drive?
    No. Busky Chow Chow would try walking and then after failing, would make others carry him.
    Sound judgement, Busky!

    Should I get a bikini wax?
    Busky Chpw Chow likes it fluffy and natural.
    Thanks Busky!

    What should I do with Rand tonight?
    Busky Chow Chow would demand an hour of belly rubs and then hump his leg.
    Good idea, Busky!

    See? You never need to fear again. The universe has sent you the answer!

    No fear! Keep writing! If all else fails, pee on it!
    Viva la Busky Chow Chow!!!
    Best wishes. Sara.

  • Rachel Troyer

    Hi! I’m going to be that annoying commenter that says, “I miss your posts!” As Dean Martin sang so beautifully, “Retuuuuuurn to meeeeee…!”

  • Not enough Fuck words! Seriously appreciate this post and it reminds me how much crap my little girl will have to put up with throughout her life. I’m lucky that my wife can handle herself and could probably kick *my* ass if warranted. I hate planes. I love travel. Teleportation, Mr. Musk?

  • Shelbi

    Your last post made me angry, but this one makes me so so sad. As a reader, I’m angry because I think you’re a great human whose words I love to read. As a woman, I’m terrified and also SO ANGRY. I’m in my 20s and mostly travel alone, which means I nearly always have to have my guard up. I hate that I have to hold up this barrier between myself and the world, and I shouldn’t have to. But I do. I can’t imagine this kind of situation, but I’m really grateful that you would share your experiences like this. Obviously, there are so many people who don’t know how to react to this, and truly don’t understand the effect of harassment. We need to be sharing our stories. We need to be telling the world at large that they don’t actually have the right to treat women like their desires and opinions are less important than how they look. Thank you.

  • Amen.

  • Beachgal

    My search for an answer, guidance and direction led me here. The same exact thing happened to me today flying into Seattle. I was physically hurt and emotionally frazzled by the man behind me who didn’t want me to recline my seat. I am recovering from a mild concussion and whiplash and he just made it worse.

    It sounds like the same exact man. He was pompous, threatening and aggressive. I did have the flight crew call the police. They met us at the gate and due to Washington’s definition of assault, could not arrest him. They are however passing case to the FBI because it happened in air. The police man advised me to follow through if my injury persists then it would be a civil case.

    I felt the same way you did and I had my son on my lap. It was horrific. We were in tears. I couldn’t pull myself together for what seemed like hours. Being stuck on that plane was horrible. My husband helped navigate, however to be clear nobody was getting through to that man not even the police officer. I’m sorry you were the recipient of that man’s horrific behavior that day. He will live with his bad behavior. I won’t.

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