Alternate title: We're never taking public transportation ever again.
In case you missed it, a recent survey of 600 Parisian women found that each and every one of them had been sexually harassed or experiences sexual assault on the subway. The French bureau, The High Council for Equality Between Women and Men, reached out to the 600 women, all of whom live in either Seine-Saint-Denis or Essonne, both of which are Paris suburbs.
The French bureau was distressed to find that, whether it was insistent flirting, sexual comments, groping, or even rape, every woman had experienced at least something while riding the Paris metro system. And, tragically, even in instances where others have witnessed such behavior, people weren't willing to help.
Because this is clearly an epidemic, Vice France decided they'd do some investigating into the matter. Writer, Mélanie Mendelewitsch, found that there is a whole world of "frotters" (those who get off from rubbing their junk on people in crowded spaces) out there, and managed to get 38-year-old "Maxine" to explain why he's been a "frotter" for 20 years.
Maxine, by the way, doesn't consider himself a predator or sex offender.
Here are some of the highlights from Mendelewitsch's interview:
After admitting that fantasizing about women in trains is his thing, Maxine explained the origin of these fantasies.
"It all started with this one businesswoman in a skirt suit — I suppose what you'd call a MILF these days — who was forced to push her breasts up against me on the train because it was so packed. I was a kid and it had a huge effect on me.
Ever since that day, I've spent a lot of my spare time on the metro. The winter is no good because of things like flu and heavy jackets — I can't get quite as close to the girls as I'd like to."
So how does he do it?
"The way it works is that I spot a pretty girl and try to sit down next to her. Then, I touch up against them very lightly and begin to fantasize about some different scenarios."
Does he think he's doing anything wrong?
"Some girls probably get annoyed because they aren't feeling that sexy at the particular time of day. Right after they've finished work, for example. They are probably taken by surprise. But some others actually enjoy the attention. I don't rub myself on them like a dog or anything ... I'm more of a 'gentleman' frotter.
I've never insulted a woman, shown my penis, or tried to stick my hand up their skirt. I condemn all of those things. As far as I know, proximity in public transport isn't a crime — even if it sometimes results in uncontrolled erections."
Sorry, ladies, he's taken (but she doesn't know about his "frotting").
"I don't think she'd get it. After the media storm about subway 'frotters,' I've heard her discuss the issue angrily with her girlfriends. But you know, I'm very active on these internet forums and talk a lot with women who have the same kind of fantasies. A lot of guys might cheat on their partners but I've found a way to remain faithful while still being able to live out my sexual fantasy."
I definitely support someone's right to fantasize, but this is just out of control.
This is also the reason that Japan now has separate cars on their trains for women and the UK is trying to get the same thing. Is it really so hard for men to keep their hands to themselves on their morning commute?
As someone who's ridden metros in several different cities, mostly New York and Paris, I can happily say that I've never been groped or "frotted" against. But I can say that if Maxine or any of his buddies started leaning up against me, we'd have a problem.
I'm not condoning violence, but after pushing his penis up against me, he'd think long and hard (pun!) before doing it to anyone else again anytime soon. Just sayin'. Creep.
If you'd like your skin to crawl even more thanks to Maxine's creepiness, you can read the rest of Mélanie Mendelewitsch’s interview here. Don't be surprised if it makes you never want to get on another subway again, or lobby for women-only train cars in your city, too.