I know this is a difficult subject, but a story just popped up on my feed that really struck a chord with me. Warnings ahead of time for the type of content discussed in this post.
A woman was assaulted on a flight from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh. A man is accused of fondling her while she was sleeping–something he admits.
Shi was returning from Las Vegas on a Southwest Airlines flight on Thursday when he put his hands under the sleeping woman’s dress and on her thigh and buttocks, the FBI said in a four-page criminal complaint. The woman woke up during the alleged incident and alerted a flight attendant who had police meet the plane at Pittsburgh International Airport and take Shi into custody.
…while she was sleeping (this part is my addition).
She also “enjoyed it,” despite being asleep.
This sort of thing makes my skin crawl.
I haven’t had a situation like this, but I’ve had situations where I wasn’t sure how to react. In an airplane, you are in tight quarters. It’s hard to tell if someone is being clumsy or creepy.
I had two specific situations.
In one situation, someone tripped while walking down the aisle and firmly grabbed my breast. He apologized while smirking and kept moving. In that moment, I had no idea whether it was on purpose or not. And I couldn’t figure out the rest of the flight. I had a fear that if I spoke up immediately and it had been an accident, I would have gotten a clumsy person in a lot of trouble.
I had another situation, but when taking a train. I was sleeping on the window seat side. When I woke up, the man next to me was sleeping with his arms folded. But his right hand was folded under his arm and resting on my breast. Again, in this case, I wasn’t sure whether or not something bad was happening. I didn’t know if he was really asleep or not. I immediately got up and switched train cars. I questioned myself over and over after that. I wasn’t really sure what to believe.
This is part of the reason I have some anxiety over window seats. I feel anxious about being “trapped” in there now, and like knowing there’s a way out.
In both of these situations, I wouldn’t even know what to tell a friend to do. And the closed quarters of travel make it difficult. I like to believe the vast, vast, vast majority of people are good people who don’t want to do creepy things. So it’s hard to know how to react.
Anyway, sort of a stream of consciousness, but that news story made me think of that. And that’s something women traveling alone have to grapple with.