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Feb. 11, 2013: Lessons on Being Female

February 12, 2013

Mara got to see what it’s like sometimes being female on the subway. She was riding home one night last week after working late, and two guys hassled her. One kept asking for money while sitting next to her and leaning against her. The other was drinking from a bottle of vodka. She tried to tell each of them to leave her alone, saying she has no cash, etc. She finally got off the subway one stop before her usual stop and called me to pick her up. (The train was stalled for 20 minutes anyway, and she did not want to spend that time with these two guys.)

She said she thinks they were hassling her because she was dressed nicely, and they assumed she would have plenty of money on her. As a guy, she wore mostly blue jeans or khakis and a casual, button-down shirt. As a woman, she dresses much more fashionably. She really loves it, but in a situation where most people are low-income, she sticks out. She has a point. But I’ve been hassled on the subway even when I was wearing jeans and sneakers. And I’m not sure these guys would have even paid any attention to Mara if she was presenting as male, no matter what she was wearing.

This incident really affected her. She was kind of freaked out for a couple of days and vowed never to take the subway when she knows she will be working late. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t either. But in a way, I think this incident was a good lesson on what it’s like to be female in the big city.


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