I had quite an exciting week with my New York Times debut! I wrote an essay for the Anxiety column about the day I was groped on a subway car while two undercover cops watched. Instead of defending myself, I froze in fear and embarrassment which only cultivated deeper fear and embarrassment. I was honored to be published and quite shocked at the response the piece received. With 547 comments and counting, I couldn’t believe how many people have had similar experiences, helpful advice, and a few funny perspectives. Mostly, I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to bring an obviously rampant issue to light. See a few of my favorite comments below the excerpt…
I Was Groped On The Subway BY: KIMBERLY MATUS
I was late as usual, weaving through the 72nd Street subway station, rushing down the stairs to catch a departing train, and managed to squeeze into one of the packed cars just in time. It was Friday, a few weeks after my 29th birthday. I was on my way downtown to my job at my family’s taxi business, casually dressed in leggings and a striped orange dress. I pushed my still wet hair out of my face and found a sliver of space to stand. As the doors were closing, one more person shoved his way in and the car let out a collective groan.
As the train pulled away from the platform, I felt a man pressing harder and harder against my backside. I tried to evade him but couldn’t move an inch in any direction. I looked over my shoulder thinking the buckle of his bag must have been digging into me but there was no bag. Only his navy sweat pants. Is that what I think it is? It can’t be. Read the rest of the article here….
Some of the responses…
B.S., Seattle, WA: ”Kims’ piece concerning a groper in today’s Times rang a bell with me! I am 82, but in my high school days (very long time ago), going to school meant taking the subway (from Brooklyn, to mid-town Manhattan). At one station a well-recognized groper entered the train (we all knew him)… as the train filled, he came closer and closer with the same disgusting results Kim had- however I used a hat pin to solve the problem. This pin was a straight pin, about 3 inches long, with a blob of glass fixed to one end and very sharp at the other end. Women used such pins to keep their hats from blowing away in the wind. I wore this one under my coat lapel. In this case the pin was vigorously applied to the gropers hand, and was left in place! He never came near us again. Not a nice thing to do, but functional….”Malcolm, Austin: Kimberly, it had to take a ton of courage to write and publish this, but it will help other women in those situations.
SFish, New York, NY: ”..the most important detail: the sweatpants. Ask any stripper–that’s the sign of an experienced perv. Easy access, maximum contact/sensation. Every time I’ve been flashed, rubbed up against, or groped on the NYC subway, the perpetrator was sweatpants-clad.”
MD, St. Louis: As a journalist, I was groped by a national political figure in broad daylight, who grabbed my breast twice as I interviewed him. there were multiple witnesses. Eyebrows went up but no one said a thing and I understand. The witnesses feared for their jobs and careers. I knew I would be scorned and doubted and humiliated by my editors, who would have never wanted to take on this powerful creep. Women everywhere will tell you that bringing it up just brings on more abuse. I don’t know the answer, but I believe Those with the courage to come forward. Thank you for this column.