Subway Masturbator Captured on Camera, Shamed by Brave Victim Online

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On Monday night, Lauren, a New York City web producer, was riding a crowded Brooklyn-bound F train on her way home from work around 7 p.m. when the man standing in front of her got gross. As she stood pressed against the door, the man crossed the car and stood in front of her. He was rubbing himself, and she "looked down to see his pants unzipped, with the shape of his hard penis sheathed in nothing but gray boxer briefs," as she wrote on her personal blog. "I was wondering if I should yell, 'Put your penis away!' But I was shaking too much to say anything," she told us today.

But as she exited the train, she did manage to use her iPhone to snap a picture of the sick lad, seen to the right, skinny in a dress shirt and aviators, carrying an unzipped duffel bag full of clothes. "He looked at me, knew what happened and then looked down," Lauren said. "At this point, all I can do is hope that someone braver than me recognizes him, and gives him a swift knee to the balls," she wrote in her account, which has gathered more than 60 Tumblr notes and counting. We talked to Lauren more about her sadly shared experience and her form of vigilante justice, or at least the spread of awareness.

"No one noticed, he was just facing me," she explained. "I was feeling like I should say something, but I couldn't." Lauren eventually got off a stop early, but not before she "stuck [the iPhone] in his face." He stood in her path on her way off the train, and she gave a forceful "Excuse me!" He responded, "Sure." She said she was shaking for at least half-an-hour after.

"It's not an uncommon thing," Lauren said. In fact, just a few weeks ago, her friend Kate Spencer wrote on her own blog about an abusive run-in with a man on the subway. (Those PSAs exist for a reason.) A man brushed her thigh on purpose, so she hit him in the face. In three weeks, Spencer's story gathered nearly 9,000 reactions on Tumblr alone.

Spencer said that she was shocked her story went viral. "I think it's because street harassment is so pervasive. It happens to so many women. (Dare I say every one of us?) Sadly, so does the old 'dick flash.' How many of us have been in Lauren's shoes before?"

And yet Lauren said she had a brief second-thought about exposing the creep. "I thought maybe his pants were just broken or that he was itchy. I felt guilty for a second. But I saw what I saw and your pants shouldn't be unbuttoned on the subway," she said. "He was blatant about it. There was a reason I had the reaction did."

Lauren didn't call the police because she "didn't think they would be able to do anything because he didn't touch me and I didn't see skin," but she did post her story to iHollaBack.org, which allows women to warn others about their harassment experiences.

"It's just amazing how many women have gone through something similar," Lauren said, noting the reactions she's received so far. "And men have been really defending me and speaking out about this kind of situation, which was refreshing."

Though on a much less severe scale, recent YouTube videos of ornery transit riders taken by fellow passengers put forth a similar message: do something offensive, illegal or embarrassing in public and you're going to be outed, whether it's by name, face or just in the form of a warning tale.

"Having iPhone and that kind of technology on hand," Lauren said, "it's easier to catch this kind of behavior that's completely inappropriate and violating.

"As much as I was shaking, it wasn't hard to reach up and take a picture," she added. "At least there's a chance that these creeps can be exposed as the creeps they are."

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]

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6 comments
Fed Up
Fed Up

I ride the 1 train up to Inwood many evenings - and it is rampant. Yesterday, there were at least 3 guys rubbing off in my car - so even with switching seats I couldn't avoid them.

They have a technique: they spread their legs, usually cover their laps with a backpack or the bag, sometimes with their hands beneath the pack, and then their feet start to jiggle. I can't even count how many times I've seen it - and it's really disgusting. But I never really know what to do in the situation, other than try to change seats - because they're just sitting in their seats too.  I could make a scene, but I don't want it to get worse for me - have someone follow me out of the train at my stop, for example. I'm usually travelling alone.

Any ideas, directives much appreciated.

Siouxie
Siouxie

Here's another good approach that my boyfriend's sister used.  Shame!  She saw this jerk exposing himself, and she announced to the whole subway car "Hey, he's got his d*ck out!"

When it happened to me I was young and intimidated and just froze.  Now, for sure, I'd mouth off.  

dagobarbz
dagobarbz

My friend and I were flashed by some pitiful wanker on the streets of Phoenix, AZ. "Hey ladies, know what this is?" he leered, waving his pink inches at us.We busted out into laughter. "Yeah, it looks just like a penis, only smaller!" we hooted and mocked him, and the pore little feller ran away down an alley, flaccid with shame.

That's how you do it rite!

bbl
bbl

This is what I wrote about this article when I posted it on Facebook: Please encourage the women you love to stand up for themselves when things like this happen. Standing up for yourself is very empowering but, alas, in our culture too many women have been made to feel some sense of shame even though they are the victims of this type of bullshit. And I can assure you that at least some people on that subway train DID notice what this man was doing. (I mean, c'mon. There's a huge difference between choosing not to pay attention to something because you don't want to be the one to say something or for whatever other reason, and actually not noticing something. If I made a vocal comment about everything I noticed I'd be saying something every second of the day.) Unfortunately, as is often the case, these other people on the train just choose not to say anything. If you see something like this happening to you or to someone else, please have the courage to SAY SOMETHING. Good for this chick for putting this creep all over the internet and speaking out about what happened, but I wish like hell she would have stood up to him at the time. From reading about the mentality of men like this, all it usually takes is looking them in the eye and loudly shouting something like, "STOP IT RIGHT NOW!" They victimize people (particularly women) because they're counting on them feeling like they can't/shouldn't stand up for themselves. Scumbags. 

AshleyB
AshleyB

Thanks to Lauren for sharing, not just on her own blog but in a super-public venue like The Village Voice. I went through something similar the other week, and like Lauren I wasn't able to do anything about it when the perv was right there, but I wrote about it later (http://www.not-ok-cupid.com/20.... Next time, dude's going down. And I'm glad I know now about iHollaBack.org, I'll definitely make a stop there next.

Siouxan
Siouxan

Can't believe this crap is still going on.  Many years ago, I got myself "an eyefull" on the N train.  Was so stupid and virginal, I thought the sleaze bag was digging for change.  I guess you could call it my introduction to the erection!

Gross doesn't begin to describe it.  

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