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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Warning! White male whining ahead! 
26th-Jul-2005 10:00 am
Groping for answers on gropers

The Japan Times
July 23, 2005

Beginning May 9, nine commuter lines in the greater Tokyo area began offering women-only train cars in response to the growing number of women being groped by men in the trains. The number of incidents reached 2,201 in 2004, up from 778 in 1996. Each line has designated one car from each train during the morning rush as being for women only.

These are not the first women-only cars in Japanese rail history, but to me this time the impact seems larger than ever before.

Why? Well, because now my main line is employing one such car. Not only that, the car designated for women only is none other than my car, the one I have wrenched myself into every day for almost a decade. The one that matches my exit point perfectly.

So now I must slide 10 meters down and take the next car. No problem, right? Except every other guy in my car must do the same -- with the end result being that there are two cars' worth of men trying to squeeze themselves into one car. It takes more than an attendant with white gloves to pack us all in. It takes a battering ram.

In the past, I was at least guaranteed a strap to hang on and believed, if I lived clean and prayed hard, God would sometimes reward me with a seat. Now I make far simpler supplications and ask only for enough air to breathe. And that I won't get crushed by the other wriggling bodies around me. Talk about being groped.

The other day, with my face mashed against the inside window, I could not help but spy the women in the rear car. Most had seats. Some stood. And a few were ballroom dancing. Or at least they could have if they wanted. They had enough room.

For the record, I am not pro-groper. Gropers are criminals and deserve to be groped themselves by the long arm of the law.

Nor would I be against the train lines establishing single cars for snifflers, snorers, college boys with BO, salarymen with gas, or any foul combination thereof. Or for any group that makes life a little harder for all commuters.

But for women only? Somehow I feel this is unfair. I feel I am suffering for someone else's crime.

So, rather than cars for only women, I suggest cars for only gropers. This protects women and serves to isolate the rightful problem.

"You cannot be serious," my wife says.

"And why not? If a man is stupid enough to molest women on a train, he might also be stupid enough to fall for this. Plus he would only have to reach such moronic heights once. For the cops could accept riding on that car as a confession and arrest the entire lot."

She gives me a look that says if reaching moronic heights were a crime, I might be public enemy No. 1.

"Why don't you simply walk two cars down, instead of one? Or even three cars? The crowd is bound to even out."

"But then I would be farther from my exit."

"So? Which is worse? Walking for 30 seconds? Or imitating a sardine for most of an hour?"

"That's not the point," I tell her. "The point is whether women should receive preferential treatment during rush hour. The only crime the great majority of men have committed is being born male."

"And some women might forgive you that. Yet, there are at least 2,201 men who are not innocent. Probably many more."

I argue that the 2,201 number reflects incidents, not gropers. Who knows? Maybe we are all victims of just one very active man -- sort of a supergroper.

From her face I can tell that she hadn't thought of that. Or that she can't believe I have thought of that. Or that anyone could think of that.

"All right," she says. "I know you have a more serious solution. Let's hear it."

I nod. "Mine is a simple idea, one that the train lines are gonna love. I recommend that women-only cars be continued, but that the females using them be required to pay an extra fee."

"But . . ."

"Then we'll see how many women are truly worried about gropers and how many are just taking advantage of the commuter lines' benevolence."

"That's . . ."

"The train companies will rake in a little loot as well."

". . . discrimination!"

So? And women-only train cars are not?

Of course, the sexes are not really equal and never have been. From politics to business to whatever, it's a man's world. That's not the way it should be, nor maybe the way it always will be, but that's the way it is, especially in Japan, where the "unfair" sex has traditionally been spoiled by the fairer one.

Like many other surface "solutions" to deep-rooted problems, single-sex train cars merely treat a symptom and not the illness. It may reduce the number of gropings, but will have no effect whatsoever on groper mentality. Only two things will eliminate that.

Better antigroper education. . . . This has continued for some time without much effect, perhaps because of that traditional spoiling or perhaps because much of it is lip service.

And stiffer groper penalties. . . . Like making gropers serve their prison sentences with both hands handcuffed to a commuter rail. Or tattooing the word "groper" to their foreheads. Or perhaps plastering their photos inside the trains in place of those cleavage-popping honeys who advertise manga, photos that, incidentally, might encourage groping just a bit.

"What you should do," my wife suggests, "is just wait. The crowds per car will eventually even out. Besides, you have no answer either. You're only 'groping' for ideas like everyone else."

Fortunately, such effort bears no penalty. Not even a punishing train ride if I'm wrong.


This sort of whining smacks of all the white guys in California who overturned affirmative action bemoaning how the other races were taking away things from them that *they* really deserve. The majority must make sacrifices if there is to be true equality, and that's a simple fact. I especially recall the rich white girl who complained that some inner city (black) person got "her" seat at the University of Texas - Austin while she had to go, well, elsewhere. Never mind that the inner city student would never have gotten to go to such a great school without that scholarship but the privileged white girl's parents could have afforded to send her to any number of schools around the country of comparable quality. "It's the principle of the thing," the white girls says. Bullshit. The end result is more important than the "oppressed" *snorts* majority waving flags about "principles."

And now we have a guy complaining to his wife about the injustice levied at him because there are gropers on the subway. He says women-only cars are not the real solution, and he's right. The real solution is him and the rest of the sardines in the train can with him forfeiting their male privilege. And clearly he's not ready to do that. I'm sure they aren't, either. Well, Dillon, I hope you enjoy you face smashed to the window.
26th-Jul-2005 02:21 pm (UTC)
Things like this drive me insane, and just go to show that men in general, not just Japanese men, truly fail to grasp what an incredible, demeaning, and humiliating violation something like groping is. If you had policed yourselves better instead of turning a blind eye, things wouldn't have had to go to this point.

I suspect that if I went to Japan and something similar happened to me, there would be a trail of broken fingers, wrists, and hands behind me.
26th-Jul-2005 02:29 pm (UTC)
Yep, stiffer penalties might be a good direction to start in, but the real cure would be to teach true equality to the children.

I suspect that if I went to Japan and something similar happened to me, there would be a trail of broken fingers, wrists, and hands behind me.

*nods* Nothing like that ever happened to me in Korea, though supposedly such things happen there often too. But the trick is to follow that hand where it originates, don't let go, and finger the hapless guy for the rest of the train's approbation. XD Shame him in front of the people who travel with him everyday.
26th-Jul-2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
It's not like the crowds in the other cars stayed the same with the women gone. There should be enough room for the guys displaced from the one car due to the women on the other cars moving to that one car. I would imagine the vast majority of women riding the subway during rush hour would opt to use the women only car since groping is such a serious problem. I'm not sure what the situation in Japan is, I know there are far fewer women as a percentage of the overall population as compared to America, but from my experience on American subways women tend to constitute a significant portion of the riders.
26th-Jul-2005 02:31 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about the percentages of riders, but this columnist's wife had a point--walk further enough down the platform, and the bottleneck of men will even out.

The columnist was complaining because the train most *convenient* to him was taken over by women-only. God forbid he walk and extra 100 ft. everyday. The selfishness just appalls me. *wrings hands in annoyance*
26th-Jul-2005 02:53 pm (UTC)
So much for true equality. I can't believe this guy is whining, how about we let him be groped by another guy? Maybe he'll understand how humiliating and demeaning it is.
26th-Jul-2005 02:54 pm (UTC)
Ah, but you see if *men* were the victims of groping, then they'd come up with a really *good* solution. For women, it's just half-assed. *sighs bitterly*
26th-Jul-2005 03:12 pm (UTC)
You know, I was trying to remember where I had heard of that before, and it was in one of the Confidential Confessions! Wow, so that really is a big problem in Japan? I did encounter something similar in Egypt though, and quickly realized I had to stay VERY close to my blonde female type friend at all times....
26th-Jul-2005 07:23 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't know if it's so much a big problem as a highly-publicized one. So many people use the subway every day, including children, so any threat to security or safety reverbrates strongly in the public mind. That's why you see it in manga a lot. Make sense? ^_^
26th-Jul-2005 03:32 pm (UTC) - OT as always

Read and tell me what you think if you're so inclined. :))
26th-Jul-2005 04:07 pm (UTC) - Re: OT as always
Wow, talk about starting from the wrong end. This sounds like an overdone 'zine, and they're far too focused on things like advertising and classified ads than they are on actual, honest-to-god content.

Speaking as someone who's actually had her own sort-of-but-not-really fanfiction 'zine and kept it running for a few years, they're going about it completely the wrong way. Content first, then layout. Start out charging only printing/shipping costs. Hell, even "print" it as a PDF and distribute only online.

But...content first, frills can grow out of that. Frankly, the thought of a yaoi magazine without any actual yaoi manga in it is a bit...odd.
26th-Jul-2005 04:03 pm (UTC) - Sob sob sob...
Why are people so stupid? Specifically, people who insist that culture has nothing to do with the shaping of a story, and who react to the suggestion that maybe, just maybe the environment in which a person is raised influences the creative process with angry diatribes that make no sense and completely fail to address the points raised.

Just sobbing on your shoulders, sorry. ^_^;
26th-Jul-2005 07:29 pm (UTC) - Re: Sob sob sob...
Whoa. Where in the world did this come from? How could culture have nothing to do with the shaping of a story? Stories are a *part* of culture!!!
26th-Jul-2005 05:10 pm (UTC) - mmm. irony?
i don't believe he's serious. i think this is a joke. *hides*
26th-Jul-2005 07:18 pm (UTC) - Re: mmm. irony?
Good God, I wish it were! T_T But this is The Japan Times--a respectable newspaper--and he's a regular columnist.
26th-Jul-2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
People like him make me more violently angry than I would ever care to admit out loud. They just disgust me.
26th-Jul-2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
*sighs* I think the feeling I got when reading this article was more like supreme irritation. The "Oh, here we go again!" sort of feeling. The angry edge dulls over time to just annoyance, I suppose. Not a good thing, perhaps, as the less angry we are, the less likely we are to do something about it. *sighs again*
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