I recently saw a spectacle on a local flight and it put the whole “MeToo” movement into perspective for me. For many years, I have heard, read and inferred things that pertain to sexual harassment but I have never been a witness like I was on this flight. Okay, some people may not consider this as sexual harassment but let me explain what I saw.
Normally, when you board a local flight, there are cabin crew members by the door to welcome passengers and other cabin-crew members waiting in the aisle to assist if need be. There was this pretty lady who was pleasant and wore a great smile on the aisle, welcoming us to our seats. I walked past her as my seat was further towards the middle of the aircraft.
From my seat, which was on the aisle, I could see clearly. The lady was courteous as passengers boarded and also helped with the overhead luggage. Then the moment I was talking about happened. There was this tough looking, heavily built guy who was seated closer to the entrance. The guy wanted to use the toilet at the back of the plane before we took off. Unfortunately for him, the aisle was blocked at that moment because the cabin-crew lady was helping a passenger with his luggage; she was in full work-mode and did not immediately take notice of the guy behind her.
So, instead of being patient, this guy wrapped his right hand around the lower part of this lady’s waist and gently (I dare say romantically) eased her out of the way. The touch was so intrusive and abnormal that I felt annoyed. If it had happened between lovers, many would have concluded that the guy was a “romantic” but for God’s sake, they were total strangers. The look of the lady’s face was that of disgust, anger and surprise; that look still rings in my head.
The amazing thing is that the guy did not even look back as he walked past my seat, heading for the toilet. The “touchy touchy” thing felt normal to him; it was as if he had just shoved aside an “inanimate thing”. For me, the annoying part of this episode is the fact that after the initial look on the lady’s face, she then had this look of helplessness before she then regained her composure. I am certain the helpless feeling came after she sighted the stature of perpetrator; probably also because she did not want to cause a scene.
Through-out the 1-hr flight, the scene played over and over in my head. I felt pity for the lady, especially because of her helplessness. I thought about talking to her about the issue (to offer her support and encouragement) when we got to our destination but another part of me objected against the idea. With regards to the guy, was it a case of someone who saw women as an object or an inferior “thing” that can be touched and exploited at every turn of event? Or was it a case of a guy who grew up with lots of women and possess a sense of familiarity that makes it feel innocuous to touch a stranger in an intrusive manner? Whichever the case may be, it is still wrong; that lady is a human being and should be shown the appropriate respect and dignity.
Ruminating over the event, I could in practical terms, relate with the stories I have heard and read about sexual abuses in corporate organizations or universities. There was a recent story of the lady who was being abused by her professor and many more untold stories of females who had to give “something” to get that promotion, close that sale or get that movie role. There are people who believe that some females intentionally use their sexuality as a tool to get ahead in life. I also believe that it is a known fact but the percentage of those kinds of women is miniscule compared to the hardworking ones who suffer abuses in silence.
Is it good that many women will suffer in silence while some men are just having their way? Is it right that you (as a man) will be protective of your own daughters and yet harassing another person’s daughters or wives? The guy on the plane could have politely touched the cabin-crew lady on the arm or shoulder and asked her to allow him to continue his journey. Yes, he might have been pressed but to abuse a woman in the full glare of other passengers is utterly preposterous. Imagine what that guy is capable of doing when left alone with a woman.
If you always feel that urge to touch a woman, no matter how innocently, please seek help; it’s not normal. Be your own judge.