Responding to Semen, Belatedly
July 24, 2013
Mr Eugenides guides us to another classic sentence from the Guardian. Specifically, a classic subheading:
A year after being sexually abused on a tube train I returned to dance for all women who have been assaulted.
The article in question, by Ellie Cosgrave, is titled I Danced Against Sexual Assault on the Tube to Reclaim it for Women. In it, Ms Cosgrave recounts a revolting incident:
When a man pressed his erection against me on a crowded tube carriage, it’s hard to describe exactly how I felt. As he started breathing heavily down my neck, my body clenched and I willed the next stop to come so I could untangle myself and get to work.
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.
On arriving in the office I found semen streaked down the back of my legs, and my heart sank. I scuttled off to the toilets to clean myself up before my morning meeting.
Clearly, the encounter was not a happy one. Payback was in order.
Over the year that followed I became increasingly angry, until eventually it was all I could talk about… On International Women’s Day I went back to the spot where my incident happened. I held a sign explaining what had happened to me, and I danced. I danced my protest, and it felt right. It was petrifying, exhilarating, and soothing all at once, and it was absolutely fitting.
Because when some creep on the tube whips out his tackle and starts masturbating against you, the best thing to do, the most fitting thing to do, is to wait a year then gyrate like a mad person in front of random strangers, most of whom are trying very hard not to notice. Yes, make a scene. A year later. And if there’s one thing tube masturbators respond to, it’s bad performance art they’ll never get to see. By “dancing loudly,” she tells us, “I feel a unity with all the women across the world who refuse to be silent.”
Amid the various commenters rushing to let others know that they’re “ashamed to be a man,” one Guardian reader adds their support with a review of Ms Cosgrave’s incongruous display:
I loved the juxtaposition of your dance, cleansing the space and reclaiming it, with the poles of the tube. The image created of the objectification of the female form as a pole dancer and the expressiveness of performing a dance of catharsis.
It’s difficult to tell whether the comment is sincere or some laser-guided parody. But such is the Guardian and its readership.