Both men and women can support victims. Both men and women can help "see something and say something" on a train. Convincing these guys that other men really think they're losers and creeps is something only other men can do. (Or women cleverly disguised as men? Contact me to option this screenplay.)
So men, if someone brags about sexual assault after the fact (like Donald Trump), holy crap, don't be Billy Bush (good general advice). Don't laugh awkwardly or change the subject. Tell them they are a piece of s**t. I mean, if you are not a swearer, use the language natural to you to convey that the person is a piece of s**t. It's also good to explain why, but the first step is letting them know they are a piece of s**t. (If they are sorry about it now, confirm with them that they agree their old self was a piece of s**t.)
The final part of the Rome bus story is that later, we told our guy friends who were on the bus with us, and they were outraged. They wished they had known what was going on so they could have dealt with those guys. And I wish we'd been able to tell them during the act. Two of them were pretty big, and one was one of those martial arts dudes, so I don't think it was all talk.
Plus, this translates to any language.
It did feel really good to get their support afterward, though. Their outrage about what happened to us did make me feel cared about and valued, and shook off the lingering fog of doubt over who was to blame or whether I should feel embarrassed.
But ideally, if someone takes what I'm saying here to heart, maybe the story will play itself out again, but instead of freezing and second-guessing, the next woman will angrily wrench a groping hand away and exchange a meaningful glance with her good-at-martial-arts friend nearby, and passersby will shortly after see a would-be groper flying out a bus window. That's all I'm really asking for.
Disclaimer: Look, I'm obviously joking about the violence. Just scare the guy off, or restrain him and wait for police or whatever.
Christina is on Twitter and Facebook.
Learn to see the pain behind the smile in When Rape Victims Get Caught Smiling (We Won't Believe Them), and learn how powerful predators sometimes get away with it in Some Unnerving Facts About Bill Clinton Democrats Ignore.
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