I remember the first time I saw a chikan (subway pervert) performing the dirty deed.
I was on the train, standing near the door reading a book, ignoring the stare-less stares…the usual. Then we pull into Akabane station and the train, crowded already, became twice as crowded…also the usual. One girl boarded, and something about her jumped out at me: she had these bodacious breast. They stood out among the flat-chested masses like two mountains in a desert. I hadn’t seen much in the way of big breasts since I’d arrived here (not that I’m a breast man) so they caught my full attention momentarily. Long enough for me to notice that she was apparently not alone. A man was closer to her than two strangers should be. I presumed they were together.
Something going on down below caught my eye,I pulling them away from the twin peaks. She was dressed in a puffy polka dot mini-skirt cut just below pantie level and the Japanese man standing behind her had his hand up under the skirt and was groping and plugging away. WHAT THE HELL! I looked at her face and if she were disgusted or turned-on it was her secret. She wore an expression of slightly nervous tranquility. Also the usual.
I was thinking, “They ought to get a goddamn room!” I looked around for other reactions…No one else seemed to notice.
There was a Middle-Eastern guy near her, too. Our eyes met and made a face like, “Gotta love these Japanese chicks!” I looked away. A third man was also close to the action like he was in on it too. I looked again at the Middle Eastern cat and he made the face again, desperately seeking my approval or something. I got the impression that he’d either been watching the two of them since before they’d boarded or that he was a party to this commuter orgy too. The man behind the girl was lost in lust, oblivious to what was going on around him. A man nearby, with his two little kids, inched away indiscreetly as much as he could in the crowd, his children in tow. I returned my attention to her face. Still no reaction, but I could barely discern an effort to subtly inch away.
Wait a fucking minute, I’d thought. But I still couldn’t say definitively that she wasn’t a party to what was going on. Or maybe I was a little taken aback, shocked, that this could go on in broad day light, on a crowded commuter train, with a car full of Japanese men and women standing around pretending not to be fully aware of the goings on. My mind couldn’t wrap around that.
When we pull into Shinjuku Station, my stop, it was the moment of truth, I thought. Are they a couple or not?
She turned to leave and moved away from them, hastily…shit! What kind of crazy culture is this, anyway, I wondered.
They don’t follow her. We wound up beside one another…she walked with that awkward Japanese gya-ru (Girl) gait, kind of pigeon toed, knock-kneed and prissy and drunken at the same time. If I hadn’t seen what she’d just been through, I wouldn’t have had a clue. It was almost as if it had never happened. Not even a glance back to see if they were following. Her expression- that same preoccupied tranquility she had on the train.
I remember when I first saw those “Women Only” signs. They reminded me of “Jim Crow” signs that segregated and discriminated against blacks in the 20th century. It never occurred to me to think about a culture that needs to designate train cars for women. That it suggests a tolerance for what I witnessed that day…
Well, I wasn’t in America anymore was I?
My American sensibilities made me feel anger and pity for that girl. I’ve been surrounded by strong women all my life. I’ve never met a woman who would have stood still for that shit. Even the mildest mannered woman I know would have elbowed the fucker or at least shrieked. And the worst case scenario (you know who you are) would have maced, keyed, cut or shot his ass, depending on which weapon was available at the time. And even strangers in NY, male or female, would have jumped in if they saw the woman was too timid to say something herself.
But another part of me was totally unsympathetic, maybe even aroused. Being a product of a misogynistic culture myself, I’m disgusted but not surprised to find that a great deal of misogyny is in me, too. Even so, I would have jumped in if she had indicated in a less than subtle way that she was being molested…but the fact that she hadn’t, nor had anyone else, made me wonder what should my role had been. Was the onus on me to show the superiority of my upbringing by interfering in something that the culture and people have decided not to interfere with?
Honestly, as an American, who the fuck am I to tell them what’s right and what’s wrong? Who gave me the moral authority? That’s their business. Let them handle it the Japanese way, I say. If they can’t resolve their own sociological side effects, then so be it. If they feel that “Women Only” cars is the solution then more power to them. I know America hasn’t resolved its issues either, that’s for damn sure. A society has to work it out amongst itself. And if it can’t well, it will suffer the consequences.
It reminded me of a line from “Fight Club” (of all the movies…):
“I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species!”