Caitlin, an art student living in New York City, was on her way home from work late at night when she saw another woman being blatantly sexually harassed on the subway. After staring at the man in order to get him to stop, she eventually called him out and shared the exchange on TikTok, where it's received more than 1.8 million views.
In the video, the man accuses Caitlin of being "all the way up" in his business, and Caitlin hits back with, "What am I supposed to do when you're yelling at a random woman about your dick...you're sexually harassing someone and I'm not gonna let you do it when it's not right."
The man then accuses Caitlin of being a feminist (ooh, sick burn) and she says (like a boss), "If that's what I have to be, bro, to tell you to stop bothering a human being."
When asked to describe the incident in her own words, Caitlin told BuzzFeed that she noticed the other woman on the subway looking distressed and realized she was being harassed once they made eye contact. A man nearby was telling the woman "he didn't really care that she had a boyfriend" and "explicitly talking about how he was going to fuck her and what it would feel like for her."
"I started looking around to see who else was on the cart, and we appeared to be the only two women on the train. There were three other men sitting somewhat near the situation. Nobody else on the train seemed bothered by what was happening. The man then stood up and began walking towards her, grabbing his dick and blatantly staring at her."
Caitlin then began staring at the man to hold him accountable, and he seemed to back off. Then, after about a minute, he began harassing the woman again and that's when Caitlin spoke up. They continued to argue for 20–30 minutes, even after the other woman got off the subway. Caitlin uploaded a separate TikTok explaining why she didn't speak to the woman.
Caitlin told BuzzFeed that she originally decided to share the TikTok as part of a "trend where this specific song/sound is supposed to magically fit the last video in your camera roll. Most of the time it’s cute videos like people dancing with their friends, but once I scrolled past all the TikToks in my library, my last saved video was the one yelling at the man. I loaded it up with the song and it matched perfectly, which seemed almost like a sign to me. So, I decided I would post it. I really didn’t think anyone would even care that much about it. I’m used to people telling me I’m too much or that I should just ignore people like that." In case you're wondering, here is the TikTok with the trendy audio:
A pretty perfect fit, if you ask me. This version also has over 1.6 million views.
In terms of the response she's gotten, Caitlin said it's generally been positive. "The majority of responses come from women, telling me I’m brave for what I did and how proud they are of me, which is wild. Honestly, whenever I read the comments, I just feel like I’m looking at somebody else’s video, most of them are so kind." She also said that any hate comments from men are quickly stamped out. AS THEY SHOULD BE.
"I think [this event] very obviously points to the fact that this is a very real and often thing that happens to almost every woman out there. In this society, we’ve been trained to mind our own business, and that catcalling and pushing boundaries is something women are just supposed to be used to. It doesn’t matter what you wear or what you’re doing, the majority of men still think they have the right to openly sexualize people however they please."
"Almost every woman in the world can tell you the countless times they’ve had experiences like these, how invasive and attacking it feels, and the common theme is no witnesses ever speak up to stop the behavior. In order to break the cycle, people have to be willing to call it out when they see it, and hopefully correct the behavior, or else these people will continue to think it’s acceptable."
And lastly, when asked what she hopes people take away from her TikToks, Caitlin told BuzzFeed, "The only reason I was able to stand up to that man was because I’ve been inspired in the past by other women doing the same thing. Watching a woman find their voice and having the power to be who they want to be, unapologetically, is what inspires me daily. So, I just want this video to do the same to those who need inspiration. When you see something, and your gut is telling you it’s wrong, assess the risks of speaking up, and if it’s safe for yourself and the people involved for you to do so, then do it. If it’s not safe, try and get the person alone, and check up on them."
Yes, yes, and YES. Caitlin, you're a total badass and we all need to be more like you.
However, before I end this post, I feel the need to remind everyone that Caitlin wasn't alone on the subway that day. More often than not, women standing up to harassers means being further harassed (what happened here), or even worse, physically harmed. So, to all my men out there: If you're in a position where standing up for someone else doesn't put you in harm's way, do it. Be better. It's 2020, and people (especially women) shouldn't have to endure this kind of behavior any longer.
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