Shanghai metro blames sexual harassment on women’s immodest clothing; netizens’ reaction
Shanghai Metro has triggered a national debate over the root cause of numerous recent sexual harassments on the city’s subway lines after its official microblog on Sina Weibo called on female passengers to dress appropriately.
On the evening of June 20, Shanghai No.2 Metro Operation, uploaded to its official Sina Weibo account a picture of a young woman wearing a black see through dress waiting for the subway train, with her underwear clearly visible, and commented, “Riding the subway train while being dressed like this, no wonder some get harassed. There are just too many wolves on the subway lines to kill them all…Girls, have some self-respect!”
The post immediately received a lot of flak for its sexist remark. Some netizens believe that whether to dress modestly or scantily is a matter of personal choice, and this gives no ground to anyone for sexual harassment. One Weibo user “大江Joe舅”said, if the law or the metro regulation does not prohibit her from getting dressed like that, then no one is entitled to lay the blame on her, “So according to your theory, it is okay that every man in the swimming pool takes liberties with women?”
Another Weibo user “雪天放晴”was even more straightforward with her criticism of Shanghai Metro’s message, “You are supposed to provide adequate safeguard to passengers. Don’t shirk responsibly, and never make excuses for offenders!”
However, many more netizens strongly agree with call. In a survey conducted by Sina Weibo, 30,661 out of 44,582 respondents, representing 68.8 percent, agree that women should know what they’re doing when they dress provocatively, and be aware of the consequences of wearing certain types of clothing.
“One should dress appropriately for the occasion in public. This is the basic common sense and ethic. So even this common sense is to be questioned? How absurd!” One net user wrote. He said that Shanghai No.2 Metro Operation’s suggestion is well-meant, and there is no need for them to apologize. Another user “@机场站王必磊服务团队” also wrote, “Look at those young men and women nowadays, wearing Low-cut top, super mini skirt, see through clothing, to name just a few, which must have sent some people the wrong signal and make them spin a fantasy. So while we condemn offenders, should we also reflect on the signals we are sending with out clothing choices?”
In response to the internet debate, two young women wearing black veils to mask their faces protested on Shanghai’s subway Line 2 with signs that read, “I can be slutty, but you can’t get dirty,” “I want coolness, not sexual predators.”
Net user “一Buddy一”offered his full support to this protest. He said that if some people is going to get away with their statement that scantily clad women lure men into committing the crime, “The ultimate result would be that each woman will not be allowed to go out unless she wears extremely thick and conservative clothing. In a normal society, even if a person is walking naked on the street, you can call the police, but you can never assault her. This is common sense.”
In the past two months, multiple Shanghai metro riders reported falling victim to or witnessing sexual harassment. In additional to groping, a man was arrested on June 13 for masturbating and ejaculating onto a female passenger’s leg on Shanghai’s Line 1. A week later, a man was caught red-handed exposing his genitals to fellow riders.
Some suggest that Shanghai offer women-only passenger cars during rush hours. But Shanghai’s metro operation replied that the overcrowding during rush hours and the inadequate number of cars have rendered the suggestion impracticable. Besides, gropers on the subway lines account for only a tiny fraction of riders. The demand for women-only passenger cars is not that strong.