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July 24, 2013

Comments

Anna

And if there’s one thing tube masturbators respond to, it’s bad performance art they’ll never get to see.

I feel safer already.

rjmadden

So the way to deal with tube wankers is to wait a year then suddenly burst into an impromptu mime…?

ajf

From her article:

"In the days that followed I began to joke about it, to laugh it off as "just one of those things", another story to add to the list."

I'm just not sure that I believe the story.

jones

Come come dear lady...where's your spunk?

David

So the way to deal with tube wankers is to do nothing for a year then suddenly burst into an impromptu mime…?

In fairness, Ms Cosgrave does end her article with this: “I encourage everyone to report all abuse on public transport so that we can begin to make real substantive and sustainable change.” Indeed, such creeps will only stop when it costs them something, preferably several teeth. That too would be an act of catharsis. But protesting - pushing back, alerting passengers and police - is precisely what Ms Cosgrave didn’t do. And in terms of credible deterrents to such behaviour, random and embarrassing dance performances aren’t high on the list.

Tim Newman

On arriving in the office I found semen streaked down the back of my legs, and my heart sank.

Again, not really the reaction of a normal person. Where is the disgust and outrage? A sinking heart is what you'd associate with somebody hoping for insemination on such a discovery.

ptbarnumthe2nd

A woman likely to be shorter than the man, with elbows, performs a sudden jerky movement back and slightly down, turns and mouths a word of apology... That's the Londoner's way.

It is just as likely that the 'semen' was pigeon droppings or somebody's smoothie. Or this is a post hoc fiction to explain why she was subsequently taken into custody for committing a breach of the peace on the Tube?

Mr Eugenides

See, this is what I miss about having a blog... some days you go to Comment is Free and find something that demands, that cries out, to be mocked.

Most days, in fact.

David

I feel safer already.

Hey, maybe it works for mugging too.

One Guardian reader adds,

Makes me ashamed of those who share my gender, and full of admiration for those who share yours.

So he’s ashamed of all men, everywhere, because, well, they’re male, and he’s full of admiration for all womankind because… er, they’re women. Presumably, then, he’s swooning in awe at someone whose response to unsolicited frottage was to say nothing, do nothing, and thus allow the creep to go free and do it to someone else. (I’m assuming, of course, that a bizarre dance display, performed a year later in front of baffled strangers, won’t torment the conscience of our pervy thrill-seeker and make him devote his remaining years to charity work.)

[ Added: ]

Happily, the comments aren’t all bonkers. I did like this one:

Sometimes I just want to travel from point A to point B without being sexually abused by a pervert, assaulted by a drunk, or made to feel awkward while someone does a crazy dance for a cause I’m unsure of.

Fair point, I thought.

Sam

Sometimes I just want to travel from point A to point B without being sexually abused by a pervert, assaulted by a drunk, or made to feel awkward while someone does a crazy dance for a cause I’m unsure of.

Interpretative dance will heal us, David. ;D

Tom Foster

Mr E,

'Some days you go to Comment is Free and find something that demands, that cries out, to be mocked.'

Some days? Every day, surely, or you're not really trying.

I enjoyed this splendidly ranty one from yesterday by 'literary activist' Kadija Sesay about how trying to persuade illegal immigrants to leave the country is racist. Note that she never actually tries to explain *why* it is racist, nor, it seems, does she think the 'illegal' part of 'illegal immigrants' is in any way relevant.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/23/anti-immigrant-ad-campaign-racism

T.K. Tortch

I enjoyed this splendidly ranty one from yesterday by 'literary activist' Kadija Sesay . . .

Well, as literary activist she's licensed to imagine anything she pleases and substitute it for reality without subjecting her thesis to any tedious review, correction or reflection. Further, as an "activist" she's entitled to insist that her imaginations be taken seriously, or better yet, implemented as policy by some local or national governing authority.

Actually, I would guess that when such people do insist that their notions be enforced by State power, it's because the enforcement part is the closest thing to reality they can accurately describe and actually achieve.

JuliaM

When the hell did 'I am woman, hear me roar!' morph into 'I am woman, watch me seethe impotently for 365 days then make a public spectacle of myself and pay myself on the back for my daring bravery'..?

JuliaM

But then, I suppose we shouldn't expect more of the sort of modern women who can write that "The fight with the Bank of England is just one example of how determined and lethal the new generation of feminists is..." when the great victory they are describing is getting some bird on the tenner...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/24/jane-austen-banknote-victory-young-women

WTP

I know I'm wrong to think that this incident will debase Thelonious Monk's observation that “Writing about jazz is like dancing about architecture". So, so wrong.

Karen M

and it was absolutely fitting.

No, but it looked a bit like fitting.

bgates

pushing back...is precisely what Ms Cosgrave didn’t do

Just as well, given the circumstances.

David

No, but it looked a bit like fitting.

Setting aside Ms Cosgrave’s curious non-reaction to the event itself, what’s odd is her belief that flailing about on a tube train a year later, grabbing at her own crotch and breasts, would somehow inspire “consciousness-raising” and a swell of solidarity. Judging by the video it seems more likely that the majority of the passengers – her reluctant audience – were hoping the gyrating freak next to them would stop and go away. A sentiment I’d imagine Ms Cosgrave can empathise with.

Watcher

I bet I could do a mime about people wanking, and I'm no dancer.

David

On Twitter Ms Cosgrave is being hailed for her “bravery” and for the “incredible beauty” of her “powerful” - albeit somewhat random and belated - “act of resistance.” One dissenting commenter suggests the gushing about “bravery” and “pride” may be misplaced, all things considered.

Ms Cosgrave has now decided to “ignore” such comments.

dicentra

I can't help feeling there's something missing here. I think it's where the punching should go. Along with the outrage, the protest, the alerting of other passengers and the summoning of police.

Something similar but less explicit happened to me in an overcrowded South American bus. The bloke took advantage of the fact that the people standing in the aisles were pushed into the people in the seats. Nobody could move, the pack was so tight.

And so my shoulder endured his, er, "affection" for what felt like hours and hours but was probably only 15-20 minutes. What folks (especially men) don't understand is that the first reaction for a woman is not to become angry but to say to one's self, "This is NOT happening. No WAY is this happening. Tell me this is not happening," and then to hope that it will go away soon, very soon.

Being the object of such "affection" is utterly humiliating, and who wants to call attention to one's humiliation?

I realize that had he been "affectionate" with the shoulder of a man, he'd likely have been punched out, right there. Too bad I didn't have that kind of moxie at the time.

Tranplanr

So insanity is contagious after all...

Rich Rostrom

David (& dicentra): one major reason that women are unlikely to react to groping or frottage with physical retaliation is that nearly all women are smaller and weaker than most men. Nor can they count on the assistance of spectators.

Most people are paralyzed by attack; by the time they realize what's happening, have emotionally processed it, and decided on a reaction, it's too late to do anything.

This is especially true if the person is physically weak, or the attack is particularly embarrassing.

Which is not to say that a modern dance performance in a subway car is an even slightly appropriate response, either.

David

dicentra & Rich,

Being the object of such “affection” is utterly humiliating, and who wants to call attention to one’s humiliation?

I can imagine it might be mortifying, yes. Speaking hypothetically, I think I’d have an urge to inflict a little reciprocal humiliation. Maybe it is a guy thing - statistically, to some extent - though I know a number of women who almost certainly wouldn’t be as passive as Ms Cosgrave. Not for a moment. For some people, in some scenarios, being inert might seem the least awful choice. But Cosgrave doesn’t describe her lone groper as physically daunting; nor does she mention being worried that no other commuters would help once alerted. (In a more detailed account on her own blog, she says, “I honestly don’t know why I didn’t force myself away. I mean, it was crowded, but if I’d shouted loudly enough ‘would you kindly take your erect dick out of my arse’ I’m sure someone would have moved out of the way for me.”) Her passivity therefore seems unnecessary and, to me, a little odd.

And I suppose that’s the thing. Our dancing Guardianista is being championed as - and seems to imagine herself as - daring and brave for doing something useless and irrelevant long after the fact, having done nothing at all when it mattered. And when it might have made a difference for any other women the perpetrator may target. By “dancing loudly,” she tells us, “I feel a unity with all the women across the world who refuse to be silent.” But when making a scene counted, silent is exactly what she was. On Twitter, one of Ms Cosgrave’s supporters says, “This happened to me also, he is now in prison!” But again, if you want tube molesters caught and imprisoned, you generally have to report their behaviour – in between punches - in order to get them there. You have to do something, something useful. And that doesn’t include waiting a year then pratting about convulsively and congratulating yourself.

[ Edited for clarity. ]

David Gillies

I think Ellie Cosgrave gives us a thought-provoking and brave template for how cope with life's little vicissitudes. No longer will I mutter darkly to myself as some daft bint waits until her purchases have been rung up to go looking for her purse. I will not seethe at the inconsiderate owners who think nothing of letting their incontinent pets make my walk to work like playing hopscotch in a minefield. No, I will assuage my anguish through the medium of interpretive dance.

The Guardian, and especially CiF, are wonderful hothouse flowers. Their existence, and the existence of the crazy menagerie that writes for them, is predicated precisely on the capitalist economy they all claim to want destroyed being so good at producing surplus value as to not even notice how utterly useless the average CiFfer is. Woe betide the unnütze Esser if that ever changes.

dicentra

Which is not to say that a modern dance performance in a subway car is an even slightly appropriate response, either.

If I were ever able to track down the perv, forcing him to watch me dance like Elaine Benis (because I can do no other), would be sufficient punishment in anyone's book.

dicentra

I know a number of women who almost certainly wouldn't be as passive as Ms Cosgrave. Not for a moment.

They've probably endured at least one incident and have no desire to endure another.

It happened to me only once. I was new in the country and didn't have the nerve (or the vocabulary) to challenge the strange foreign customs.

Had it happened again when I'd been in the country longer, I'd probably have had a more forceful response.

Gordon Walker

I don't understand why she did not take a firm grip on the offending organ and turn it through an angle of 720° about (I assume) a vertical axis.

Mags

By “dancing loudly,” she tells us, “I feel a unity with all the women across the world who refuse to be silent.”

No one does asshat like the Guardian.

David

No one does asshat like the Guardian.

A rich, deep seam of asshat ore runs directly beneath Kings Place. They must have a processing lab in the basement, converting the ore into its smokable form.

Mr_Eugenides

It's all so... I don't know how to properly put this into words, but it's so solipsistic. An assault is a terrible thing, even one as relatively harmless as this one, but her response is so "me, me, me". How do I "get closure" on this? How do I "process" this experience? Not by trying to have the guy apprehended - which would have actually, rather than symbolically, have helped other women; not by confronting him, which would have been ideal but which I can see might have been uncomfortable or impractical. Not even by just trying to forget it and move on, in the British way.

No, instead her reaction is to turn herself into the ongoing centre of attention, achieving her own catharsis after an uncomfortable event by projecting discomfort onto others... it's just so fucking self-indulgently wanky. It's so... Guardian.

Torquil Macneil

It's a case of 'when the exhibitionist met the exhibitionist'. It was never going to end well.

This has happened to me too, by the way, but in a pub not a tube train. It seems to be a more common experience for blokes than you would think. It is a lot more unsettling than you imagine, especially after the event. She has my sympathy for it.

David

It’s a case of ‘when the exhibitionist met the exhibitionist’. It was never going to end well.

Tsk. Such cynicism. She’s not just clutching at her breasts and crotch for herself, you understand. She’s doing it “for millions of women across the world.”

R. Sherman

And in other news from the arts, we have this.

You're welcome.

David

And in other news from the arts, we have this.

I was sent this nugget by a couple of other readers. Aside from the usual “transgressions” of fellatio and condiment enemas – again, really? – what caught my eye was this: “The pair said they classify their work as performance art, not theatre, and it is designed to challenge the audience.” It’s odd how the word “challenge,” when used by incompetent hustlers pretending to be artists, has come to mean something like “shitting mayonnaise into a bucket.” Or just “shitting into a bucket.”

It doesn’t ever seem to mean “making people marvel at something beautiful, something they, the public, couldn’t hope to create, even at gunpoint.” Too challenging, I guess.

JuliaM

"...fellatio and condiment enemas..."

*spits Scotch over monitor*

WTP

So if I stood up before a room of people expecting an art exhibition, in front of a large white-board, and challenged the audience to understand Fourier series transforms or to normalize a simple database, would that be a form of art? Would I possibly be considered as a candidate for a Turner Prize?

David

I think Julia’s fainted. Fetch more Scotch.

bgates

WTP, that would be merely intellectually challenging. Art is supposed to be emotionally challenging.

Now, say you have your white board, but instead of explaining Fourier series transforms while standing there, you do it while rubbing your penis against an audience member's shoulder....

Jason

If only there were some kind of...tool, or device, that people could carry on their persons to help equalize them when facing larger, more aggressive individuals. Something hand-held. Perhaps with a button, or lever, which, when depressed, would either deploy or rapidly expel a sub-component that could be used to...encourage...the aggressor to seek his, or her, entertainment elsewhere.

Alas, such technology must remain in the realm of make-believe I suppose.

dicentra

I don't understand why she did not take a firm grip on the offending organ and turn it through an angle of 720° about (I assume) a vertical axis.

Because EWWW?

It would be much funnier to stand back and exclaim "Is that all you've got?" such that all and sundry turn to look, but that requires much more presence of mind than most folks have when their workaday commute is interrupted by an intimate interlude.

dicentra

Art is supposed to be emotionally challenging.

Culturally challenging, actually.

It neatly separates the hip from the square, the vapid from the substantial, the worthy from the chaff.

What more can you ask?

bgates

It neatly separates the hip from the square, the vapid from the substantial, the worthy from the chaff

and the mayonnaise from the rectum.

"Neatly" may not be strictly accurate there.

WTP

Ahh, so culturally challenging, actually. Seems to me there's a huge cultural difference between most of those in the lib arts arena vs those in the STEM fields. Present lib arts company excepted, of course. My suggestion might still have legs then?

David

Culturally challenging, actually.

A footnote on this “challenging” bollocks.

And don’t forget how pissy these “challenging” artists can get if you dare to challenge them.

Rob

There is a certain breed of man (used in the loosest possible sense of the word) who is so emasculated that he feels the need to immediately despise himself for the alleged actions of another completely unknown to him.

I find them inexplicable and contemptible. I suspect 99% of them live within five miles of central London.

Rich Rostrom

Rob | July 26, 2013 at 14:21:
There is a certain breed of man ... who is so emasculated that he... despise[s] himself for the alleged actions of another completely unknown to him... I suspect 99% of them live within five miles of central London.

How absurdly chauvinistic to claim a British monopoly.

There are swarms of these invertebrates infesting American universities, and also Canada and Australia.

But I doubt if there are any of them in Tower Hamlets, Newham, or Brixton.

IYKWIM.

Roz

And don’t forget how pissy these “challenging” artists can get if you dare to challenge them.

That was hilarious. It's amazing how little self-awareness some people have.

David

It’s amazing how little self-awareness some people have.

That’s the nature of narcissism, isn’t it? I think Franklin deserves a lot of the credit for making that example apparent. As does the complaining artist, though for quite different reasons.

AC1

On a different note, why did she only dance for Women??? Men are assaulted far more frequently than women with far more violence.

I'm calling sexism. Teh Grauniad should take down this sexist article.

dicentra

Men are assaulted far more frequently than women with far more violence.

You moron: that's a statistic—possibly even an accurate one.

It has no place in a conversation about an issue as angsty as this.

Shame on you.

mojo

The wankers ought to be careful. If the victim is startled, an elbow-to-facial-structure type accident might occur.

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