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To think this is intrusive and creepy?

(150 Posts)
kiritekanawa Thu 06-Nov-14 16:08:06

I commute about two hours a day on suburban trains in Paris. It's quite creepy and unsettling to watch the gender politics being played out every day.

Women sit with their bottom at the back of the seat, so their knees don't jut out, so they take up as little room as possible in a 4-seater bit where 2 people face 2 people (which is how most of the seats are arranged on these particular commuter trains).

Men, usually young men, frequently sit opposite women, slide their backside to the edge of the seat, spread their legs wide, and if sitting opposite a woman, put their feet either side of the woman's legs. Then they stare at the woman. If the woman gets up to get off the train, they often won't move their legs, so she has to clamber over them. It's deliberate intrusion. I very rarely see men so tall that their legs would stick out that much naturally if they actually sat up straight - and I know this, I have seen various extremely tall friends sit on these seats without intruding on the space opposite.

This is totally unnecessary, and really rude. Or, possibly, it is totally normal, and I am an uptight Engleesh bitch who needs a f***, as I was told this morning when I politely asked the man opposite me (young enough to be my son, incidentally) to sit up and not surround my legs with his legs, explaining that many women found it a bit too intrusive. Yuck.

weeblueberry Thu 06-Nov-14 16:11:17

Yes it is. And dominating.

I think I'd be constantly shuffling my feet and 'accidentally' kicking them and shoving them with my ankles quite often. Always with a smile and a very sincere apology afterwards of course.

ghostvitruvius Thu 06-Nov-14 16:11:57

I lived in Paris in my early 20s and found the street harassment appalling. It was pretty much impossible to use the trains without being harassed in some way.

SpuffySummers Thu 06-Nov-14 16:12:18


I'm lost for words.

I don't even know where to start.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Thu 06-Nov-14 16:12:43

I've only started noticing sexism recently.

Must've been living in a bubble. Or I've just grown up.

But, yes. Men behaving as though women are occupying their space is common.

I notice feck all going on around me. So if I've picked up on it then it's bad.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Thu 06-Nov-14 16:16:14

I lived in Paris in my early 20s and found the street harassment appalling.

When I was 14 I lived in a touristy town (Bath, if you're interested) and a couple of times I had French lads touch my boobs as I was walking past them.

It used to make me cry. Now I'm just angry about it. 20 years ago and I still get the rage.

OfaFrenchMind Thu 06-Nov-14 16:16:19

When working in Paris, I had that, but it seriously depends on the metro line. Differences can be very glaring.
Solution in this case is to plant your very pointy heels in their foot when you "stumble" out of your seat. That teaches them to block your way.

FyreFly Thu 06-Nov-14 16:18:54

I've never noticed this in Paris (visit reasonably often).

My observation is that if their legs are spread wide with their feet either side of yours, they're exposing a very sensitive area that would be extremely easy to kick, being so accessible and all.... grin

OneDayWhenIGrowUp Thu 06-Nov-14 16:19:43

I notice this in London too although there's not too many lines that seat arrangement any more.

I enjoy the arm rest politics as well.

Callani Thu 06-Nov-14 16:21:28

I think that street harassment is significantly worse in France than in the UK - maybe I just don't notice it as much here but I genuinely can't think of a single incident that compares to what I put up with every day in south France.

I was in my early 20s and nervous and not fluent in French at first so probably an easy target, and I suffered from similar harassment like you mentioned OP. I also got barricaded into the back of the bus a number of times by groups of French guys who thought it was funny to really upset me. One time I called to someone to help (in very stuttering French) and was told I was a stupid foreigner. It's truly appalling and probably the least safe I've ever felt which is saying something.

InfinitySeven Thu 06-Nov-14 16:24:16

This happens every day on both of my trains to London and back.

quietbatperson Thu 06-Nov-14 16:26:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bambambini Thu 06-Nov-14 16:27:24

Reminds me when I was on the tube years ago and a young foreign chap was sitting next to me and did exactly that and started sort of grinding his hip and leg against me, hands deep in his pockets - much to the amusement of other commuters. Even when I'd move over - he would just spread his legs more. I was dressed a bit like an OTT prostitute but still. Overall I think the Uk is quite tame for casual sexual harassment compared to other countries I've been.

quietbatperson Thu 06-Nov-14 16:28:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kiritekanawa Thu 06-Nov-14 16:29:36

interested in the idea it depends on the metro line... I'm catching what's known as the "brain train" that goes south to the Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS, etc. The young men doing this are highly educated, middle class, white students, usually reading textbooks or uni notes.

I went to an area that is mostly first or second generation african immigrants, a while back. Despite having been told not to go there by my (white, middle class) colleagues, I felt significantly safer there at 11pm on a Saturday than I do at 7am on my normal train to work.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Thu 06-Nov-14 16:30:55

I was dressed a bit like an OTT prostitute but still.

Nope. Nope. NOPE.

Nothing to do with how you were dressed. You were standing near an arsehole.

DO NOT blame yourself.

<wags finger>

cherrybombxo Thu 06-Nov-14 16:32:34

I was harassed twice during my first trip to Paris, it was horrible. One guy was trying to make a joke of it but another kept asking, "you want it? How much?" while backing me into the corner of a shop.

Last time I was there a looky-looky man at the Sacre Coeur called me fat. Not sure which was worse!

zzzzz Thu 06-Nov-14 16:35:22

A bottle of water spilled on the gaping growing might make his day unpleasant. I suggest you have a lot of accidents.

And yes they're being gits.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Thu 06-Nov-14 16:36:57

A bottle of water spilled on the gaping growing might make his day unpleasant.

Or a hot coffee...

HelloItsMeFell Thu 06-Nov-14 16:41:45

I think arrogant young men the world over show this sort of insouscient, dominant body language and not only to women, although I think they probably find it easier to do it to women with less chance of challenge.

I am fascinated by all the tales of feeling harassed or sexually threatened by young French men though. When I was about 13 or 14 I had a very similar experience to Callani and KingJoffrey* when some male French exchange students who my friend and I had been chatting to deliberately isolated and cornered us and tried to kiss and grope us in a way that felt rather sinister and unsettling. I thought I'd just been unlucky - I didn't realise it was a national pastime for them. shock

zzzzz Thu 06-Nov-14 16:42:56

grin I typed "gaping CROTCH" confused but strangely appropriate.

I like the thought of them going from "sexual bully" to "embarrassing incontinence" in an instant.

DiaDuit Thu 06-Nov-14 16:45:49

Men behaving as though women are occupying their space is common.

No this isnt what is happening. It is men deliberatley occupying a woman's personal space. There is a difference in intent.

quietbatperson Thu 06-Nov-14 16:45:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EmilyGilmore Thu 06-Nov-14 16:47:46

Why exactly do men sit with their legs wide apart on public transport? I hate it even if it's just the person opposite me on the tube (not touching). It just seems so territory-marking and somehow sexual at the same time. You really do see it a lot.

Not see the Parisian thing but that sounds dreadfully abusive.

GoEasyPudding Thu 06-Nov-14 16:49:09

Freaking hate Paris.

I think I got Paris syndrome when I went there!
(When Japanese tourists have a mini breakdown because it's not the lovely place they think it will be)

Sorry this is happening, sounds awful.

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