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"Then I See His Penis Out!"
November 23, 2010 12:43 PM   Subscribe

A YouTube cellphone video is making the rounds today of a woman fearlessly confronting a flasher on a New York City subway car.

In an unexpected development, a large number of hits for the video come from a message board dedicated to flashers. Who, or course, defend the flasher...and try to turn the whole thing into a learning experience for other flashers.
posted by magstheaxe (185 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok, thanks.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Discuss.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2010


> Discuss

It doesn't rise to the heights of intrigue like Dog Poop Girl or Bus Uncle, that's for sure.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look at this asshole('s penis).
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2010


Bus Uncle? Are you referring to Epic Beard Man or is there another crazy bus guy I should know about?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:50 PM on November 23, 2010


Bus Uncle
posted by Burhanistan at 12:51 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Every lady-friend I have and ever woman I have ever dated have seen subway-dick. Like, not idle, dangling-about subway dick but aimed-at-them subway dick. And not one has simply waved it off as ha-ha-subway-dick. No, it's a really shitty experience.

I'm really glad that asshole had the balls to try this in Union Square at 6:15 PM. I doubt that young woman would have had the confidence (wisely!) to relentlessly humiliate that son of a bitch like she did.
posted by griphus at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bus Uncle reminds me of the guy who was on the Greyhound with me one time. He brought on two armloads of newspapers, got back off the bus, returned with two more armloads of newspapers (which he put in the overhead compartment), and then announced every city that we passed through ('Indianapolis! State's largest city... and state capital!')
posted by shakespeherian at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Bus Uncle! Okay now I remember him!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:54 PM on November 23, 2010


I see his dick, but I don't know where his pen is.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:57 PM on November 23, 2010


Jezebel goes into a bit more disturbing detail on some of the awkward, stand-out posts on the inimitable DickFlash.com site.
posted by disillusioned at 1:00 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Autotune 'Then I See His Penis Out!'"
posted by Zozo at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure this has been making the rounds for weeks.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:10 PM on November 23, 2010


Found something cool on the web?

You betcha! A woman being publicly sexually harassed, mocked for sticking up for herself, then threatened with being raped and mugged by a bunch of anonymous creeps on a messageboard.
posted by Gator at 1:10 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Good for her. I hope that guy did get arrested.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:10 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back in my home country, when I was little, there was an upsurge in deinstitualization of psychiatric hospitals. I remember walking around with my girlfriends on more than one occassion, and a creep would suddenly jump out of the bushes holding his john like a torch. We have thought it was funny then, because there were just so many of them, and they all looked pathetic, even to our 11-year-old selves. We have never experienced fear, we couldn't imagined them ever hurting us - they always run away before we finish laughing. They were always thought of as just this sick bunch for whom we felt nothing but pity.
posted by mooselini at 1:13 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first thought if I were one of the non-flasher men on the same subway car would be, "Lady, please be careful. If this dude flashed you, there's no telling what the fuck he'll do if you keep escalating this without any obvious police backup. Escort him to the station? I'll help you get the police, but let's not follow him into a dark alley or anything."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2010


This would be the rare, rare time you find me advocating for more taser use.
posted by yeloson at 1:16 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


> If this dude flashed you, there's no telling what the fuck he'll do if you keep escalating this without any obvious police backup. Escort him to the station? I'll help you get the police, but let's not follow him into a dark alley or anything."

I think she pulled the emergency stop so the conductor will be coming, and no doubt calling the whole thing in to MTA cops.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:16 PM on November 23, 2010


I want to know what happened after this.
posted by everichon at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too bad she wasn't carrying a scythe.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Gator: Found something cool on the web?

You betcha! A woman being publicly sexually harassed, mocked for sticking up for herself, then threatened with being raped and mugged by a bunch of anonymous creeps on a messageboard
And that certainly represents the majority of responses to this video, Gator! That clearly is the social norm of responses and not a vocal and tiny minority, right? Sheesh, even the people on the subway are joining in on mocking the guy for his unacceptable and criminal behavior.

So I have been roundly castigated in the past for my responses in threads on rape, sexual harassment, and gender politics/culture, but when I have said "If the harassment occurs, why don't you DO something, besides yell at me anonymously?", the response of this woman is exactly what I'm referring to. "My plans are done for the evening, I'm escorting you to the police station" is awesome, and there's no good reason in 2010 or after that shouldn't be an adult's standard response to harassment.
posted by hincandenza at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2010 [30 favorites]


I think she pulled the emergency stop so the conductor will be coming, and no doubt calling the whole thing in to MTA cops.

Awesome. I wouldn't have thought to do that, and it's great, especially with a crowd.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:19 PM on November 23, 2010


So I have been roundly castigated in the past for my responses in threads on rape, sexual harassment, and gender politics/culture

[...]

and there's no good reason in 2010 or after that shouldn't be an adult's standard response to harassment.


So you're bored at work too, huh?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on November 23, 2010


I think she pulled the emergency stop so the conductor will be coming

I hope she DIDN'T pull the emergency stop. That's really, really not what it's for.
posted by telegraph at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


> I hope she DIDN'T pull the emergency stop.

Salon says she did.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:21 PM on November 23, 2010


Putting aside the sociopathic forum comments for a moment, you as a bystander respond to a harassed woman standing up for herself with, "Ohh, this shit's going on youtube, yo"? Seriously? The comfort and safety of others is something you should rally behind, not a freakshow to try to get pageviews and lulz, out of. Way to trivialize the problem and contribute to her dehumanization.
posted by erstwhile ungulate at 1:22 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Serious question: A guy who pulls it out on a subway car obviously has some issues. Does humiliating him so loudly and publicly increase the chance that his issues and misogyny will soon be accompanied by rage, resulting in assualt or worse?

Please note, I do not mean in any way to suggest that this woman didn't have the right to make her feelings known and to involve law enforcement. Obviously she did and I hope that law enforcement comes down on this guy, but since he's not going to be locked up for the rest of his life over this, and since he's not going to suddenly see the error of his ways and repent, what is going to happen?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:22 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been told by an experienced psychologist (and then psychology teacher) that the best thing you can do at a flasher is to point and laugh. Since that's the reaction they don't want.
posted by hellojed at 1:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


yeah, honestly, most people (men) who do this sort of thing seem to assume a lack of "fight back" in their "victims"

I've never been flashed on the subway but once when a guy was SOOOO overtly ogling a friend and I when we got on the train I started saying in a really loud voice, and pointing, "there he is, that guy was looking at our asses. that guy there"

he moved to another train car in a hunched shuffle of shame.

so good on her I say!
posted by supermedusa at 1:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I hope she DIDN'T pull the emergency stop. That's really, really not what it's for.

I don't know about the NYC subway, but in Toronto this is exactly what you push the emergency strip for. If being sexually assaulted on the subway isn't an emergency worthy of alerting authorities immediately, what exactly do you think is?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [90 favorites]


>I've been told by an experienced psychologist (and then psychology teacher) that the best thing you can do at a flasher is to point and laugh. Since that's the reaction they don't want.

Works like a charm.
posted by mooselini at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think she pulled the emergency stop so the conductor will be coming

I hope she DIDN'T pull the emergency stop. That's really, really not what it's for.

I'm not snarking, honestly, I'm asking. If it's not to be used while a crime is in progress, is it only to be used in a medical emergency? Or a fire on the train?
posted by crush-onastick at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Serious question: A guy who pulls it out on a subway car obviously has some issues. Does humiliating him so loudly and publicly increase the chance that his issues and misogyny will soon be accompanied by rage, resulting in assualt or worse?

Yeah, we'd better let him keep pulling out his penis on subway cars, lest his precious feelings be hurt.

Seriouser question: Have you ever been sexually assaulted?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm not snarking, honestly, I'm asking. If it's not to be used while a crime is in progress, is it only to be used in a medical emergency? Or a fire on the train?

Dragging. It is only to be used if someone is being dragged. The Times had a whole article about the confusion.
posted by griphus at 1:26 PM on November 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


Must be the weekly YouTube shaming post
posted by KokuRyu at 1:27 PM on November 23, 2010


Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?
posted by norm at 1:27 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


...in Toronto this is exactly what you push the emergency strip for.

In New York, this would stop the train in a god-knows-how-long tunnel, preventing medical, fire or police help from getting there.
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?
Yes it is.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


> Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?

Depends on the DA, really. But it will earn the flasher a spot on the sex offender's registry.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on November 23, 2010


Since we're derailing (ha!) on this topic anyway, the "When should you pull the emergency stop cord, in particular in NYC subways" thing has been covered on MeFi at the beginning of this year.
posted by hincandenza at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2010


norm: "Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault"

Non-serious answer: No, it's an assault on good coding.

Serious answer: Yes.
posted by charred husk at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


The explanation, transit officials say, is simple. If someone gets caught between the train’s closing doors, or between subway cars, and is about to be dragged to an unenviable fate, pull the cord. The train will stop, possibly saving a life.

But in case of fire, crime or a sick passenger — in fact, any other situation that could fairly be described as an emergency — the cord should be left alone. Stopping the train between stations will make it harder for help to arrive.


Via this MeFi post.

She absolutely should not have pulled the emergency cord.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm really glad that asshole had the balls to try this in Union Square at 6:15 PM.

Rush hour is prime time for subway pervs, regardless of balls-- plenty of opportunities to get right up next to someone without them realizing what's happening. Anecdotally, the first (and so far only) time I was groped on the subway was around 6 pm in midtown.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2010


Good on the lady. Anyone who says she might be making the flasher worse by confronting him needs to take their head out of the sand.
posted by dobie at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, surely if there's a fire or medical emergency you need to get to the station as quickly as possible to let everyone off/medics get on?
posted by Edwahd at 1:31 PM on November 23, 2010


In New York, this would stop the train in a god-knows-how-long tunnel, preventing medical, fire or police help from getting there.

Yeah, but I'm not sure exactly what to do. Not pulling the cord would mean that the train continues on to the next stop where the asshole will surely escape out of the train.

We don't have any sort of closed circuit cameras in trains and in most stations, and I can't recall the last time I've seen a conductor walking through a train. Her situation was obviously not life-threatening, and there were many people there in case he tried to escalate, so pulling the cord is probably the only thing she could have done to ensure he gets arrested.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:31 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?

The woman in the video says he was "right up against her" which implies he was touching her. Touching her unnecessarily (it wasn't a crowd situation), without her consent, with obvious sexual intent is a sexual assault.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


"lets be careful out there fellas." ew.

yeah, i don't know the MTA rules, but pulling the emergency stop is probably a bad idea here.

follow the guy out of the subway and flag a cop or MTA security. get help from the people around you.

and yeah, videotaping and uploading this scene to YouTube (i assume without the woman's consent) is another really bad idea. (i'll give the uploader the benefit of the doubt and assume he got the woman's permission.)

I've been told by an experienced psychologist (and then psychology teacher) that the best thing you can do at a flasher is to point and laugh. Since that's the reaction they don't want.

I've only been flashed once and by someone who was mentally incapacitated, but I would agree. It seems like these folks are looking for a specific reaction--disgust, fear, shame, or yes, anger.

I think this woman's response is spot on. She is certainly angry, but not boiling insane. I think you calmly and very loudly announce to everyone on the train what just happened and that you need help with the situation. People will certainly oblige. Mobs love mob justice.

Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?

There are all sorts of flashes, and it depends on the context (I think there generally has to be intent), but it most cases, I would say yes.

As usual, Shouse has a good overview of CA law. (Disclaimer: I have no connection with Shouse.) You certainly are a "sex offender" and have to register if convicted of indecent exposure.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2010


Good on her. I went through a similar experience--I was in a subway car alone, in between two stops and a guy assaulted me, first touching and grabbing and then masturbating in front of me when I shoved him into a seat. I was frightened enough that I forgot about the emergency stop cord.

As soon as it got to the next stop (the last one on the line) he and I get off, I start heading for the security desk, and begin to scream in the crowded terminal:
"SECURITY! SECURITY! THAT MAN OVER THERE WAS MASTURBATING IN FRONT OF ME ON THE SUBWAY CAR! LADIES, GENTLEMEN, THAT MAN IN THE BLACK-AND-WHITE SWEATER WHO IS HIDING HIS FACE! HE WAS HARASSING ME IN THE SUBWAY CAR!"

The dude basically froze and tried to hide in a corner. He was arrested and later got a year for it. It could have been a really haunting experience but aside from avoiding empty subway cars I came out of it feeling OK, and I think that's because I stuck up for myself. I would recommend any woman in a similar position to confront if possible, these guys prey on the idea that you'll scurry off and calling them on their bullshit will scare the piss out of them.

You have to make noise, because nobody's going to do it for you--there was another guy in the subway car when this was happening, and he stayed in his seat the whole time, looking away.
posted by schroedinger at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2010 [108 favorites]


What are you supposed to do in a non-dragging emergency on the New York subway?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, I will file that information away for use, should I ever be involved in a non-dragging emergency in a NYC subway car.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:34 PM on November 23, 2010


When I was dating my ex, she had an experience on the F (or was it the A) train during rush hour, wherein some dude was trying to cop a feel/assgrab (must have been the A train, that train of broken dreams). Anyhow, she noticed a hand upon her ass, and as it was rush hour, and therefore a fairly quiet train, asked the other commuters:

"DOES ANYONE NEED A HAND WITH ANYTHING? BECAUSE I HAVE AN EXTRA ONE, ON MY ASS!"

To which: cue embarrassed perv damn near sprinting off train at next stop to peals of laughter from the rest of the train. I don't know if that was the "correct" response or not, but it worked for her, and she drank for free for a while on that one.
posted by jivadravya at 1:35 PM on November 23, 2010 [61 favorites]


Not pulling the cord would mean that the train continues on to the next stop where the asshole will surely escape out of the train.

And pulling it means the train stops in the middle of a tunnel where law enforcement can't easily get to you. Not saying one is better than the other, in this case it sounds like a lot of people in the video were similarly mocking the flasher, and likely would have risen (sorry) to her aid if he did decide to turn violent.

If the train continued to the next stop, perhaps some fellow mockers (sorry, passengers) would have helped detain him until the police arrived.

Either way, good on her for standing up (sorry) to his assault.
posted by Snowflake at 1:36 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are you supposed to do in a non-dragging emergency on the New York subway?

You deal with it in the station. Even drunks know to get off the train before vomiting because it'll screw up the line.
posted by griphus at 1:39 PM on November 23, 2010


Yeah, we'd better let him keep pulling out his penis on subway cars, lest his precious feelings be hurt.

Seriouser question: Have you ever been sexually assaulted?


Clever of you to quote me out of context to suggest that I was saying she should not have gotten angry. In fact, as I explicitly state in the next paragraph, I was NOT saying I thought she was wrong to do what she did. Nor did I anywhere say that I cared about his feelings or considered them precious. My question about how and when these types of offenders escalate, not about whether or not it was appropriate for her to react as she did. I'm not concerned about his feelings, I'm concerned about what this guy (by his own fault, not hers or anyone else's) is likely to do next and pointing out that it is a bit of a catch-22: the only reasonable thing to do is be angry, but being angry won't make the problem (his perviness) any better and could make it worse. But it's still exactly what it makes the most sense to do.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:42 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


She is going at a different frame rate to everyone else in the clip. Oh no you di'int-o-vision.
posted by fire&wings at 1:42 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think she did the right thing, pulling the cord...it's waay too easy for a perv to escape in the crowd before you can get anyone's attention, especially at rush hour.

And pulling it means the train stops in the middle of a tunnel where law enforcement can't easily get to you.

No, it means that an MTA cop or personnel on the train comes back, finds out what's going on, then keeps the perv in custody while the conductor moves the train along to the stop, where the authorities will be waiting to take statements and hopefully make an arrest.

Irritated by the slowdown in your commute? Blame the perv, not the victims. Want a better solution? Get the MTA to put in call buttons or some other kind of reporting system.

But again: blame the perv, not the victims who are protecting themselves exactly as they should. Good on this lady. She's obviously terrified, completely unprepared to have to deal with this bullshit during her commute, but thought fast.
posted by emjaybee at 1:44 PM on November 23, 2010 [45 favorites]


They should have conductor-call-boxes next to the emergency cord, just in case any future subway car designers are reading this.
posted by not_on_display at 1:44 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


If I Only Had A Penguin

I think the confusion is that in Toronto we have the emergency stop as well as the emergency strip. Sexual assault would definitely be what the emergency strip is for as it would alert the driver and personnel at the next station that there was a problem and they could deal with it when the train pulled into the next station, but all pulling the stop would do is leave everyone in a tunnel until things got sorted out (and even then, what is a conductor going to do if the person is violent?).

It seems like the NY subway only has the emergency stop, and so the appropriate "solution" is to somehow deal with it at the next stop.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:45 PM on November 23, 2010


[A few comments removed. Cut it out, you two.]
posted by cortex at 1:48 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My question about how and when these types of offenders escalate... I'm concerned about what this guy (by his own fault, not hers or anyone else's) is likely to do next

If she can't speak out against him in a crowded train at rush hour, when can she speak out?
posted by naju at 1:50 PM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


the newer NYC subway cars definitely have a red push-this-button to call someone (possibly the conductor. i dunno. i've never pushed it). agree that she shouldn't have pulled the cord. it could've gotten violent and they would've been trapped inside the tunnel D:
posted by yeoz at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2010


Clever of you to quote me out of context to suggest that I was saying she should not have gotten angry. In fact, as I explicitly state in the next paragraph, I was NOT saying I thought she was wrong to do what she did. Nor did I anywhere say that I cared about his feelings or considered them precious. My question about how and when these types of offenders escalate, not about whether or not it was appropriate for her to react as she did. I'm not concerned about his feelings, I'm concerned about what this guy (by his own fault, not hers or anyone else's) is likely to do next and pointing out that it is a bit of a catch-22: the only reasonable thing to do is be angry, but being angry won't make the problem (his perviness) any better and could make it worse. But it's still exactly what it makes the most sense to do.

So I don't understand your question, then. You agree that this frightened woman had the right to defend herself, but you are expressing all this worry for this dude, that somehow being confronted might turn him from flasher into rapist. That's...pretty much ass-backwards.

Rapists rape because they choose to rape. Lots of men get humiliated in public but don't become rapists. Lots of men have horrible childhoods but don't become rapists. Lots of men lust for women in short skirts but don't become rapists, for that matter.

If this man chooses to get more violent or persist in assualting people on the train, it's his choice, and there is no way of "reacting" to him that would change that. To wonder if the reactions of sexual assault victims somehow, in some way, control the subsequent actions of those who commit sexual assault is to remove the agency from the perpetrator and place it on the victim.
posted by emjaybee at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2010 [13 favorites]


Me: My question about how and when these types of offenders escalate... I'm concerned about what this guy (by his own fault, not hers or anyone else's) is likely to do next

Naju: If she can't speak out against him in a crowded train at rush hour, when can she speak out?


Again, I think she can and should speak out. I keep saying that and yet it seems it is unclear. I am not arguing she should not speak out, not be angry, or not call the cops. I do not things "his feelings" should be a factor in her or anyone's decision making process.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:55 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Putting aside the sociopathic forum comments for a moment, you as a bystander respond to a harassed woman standing up for herself with, "Ohh, this shit's going on youtube, yo"? Seriously? The comfort and safety of others is something you should rally behind, not a freakshow to try to get pageviews and lulz, out of. Way to trivialize the problem and contribute to her dehumanization.

How about "Way to shame the flasher and put the idea in other flashers heads that someone might take video of them and have people recognize them as flashers from here until forever"? Documentation is not necessarily trivializing.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:56 PM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


the newer NYC subway cars definitely have a red push-this-button to call someone (possibly the conductor. i dunno. i've never pushed it).

It goes to the engineer driving the train.

Customer assistance intercoms on station platforms go to the station agent on duty.

MTA.info has a "Riding Safety" page.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on November 23, 2010


"Autotune 'Then I See His Penis Out!'"

Camptown Races?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:57 PM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think my favorite part of all this are the trolls (or legit psychopaths) who are giving flashing tips and pointers based around this video.
posted by wcfields at 2:00 PM on November 23, 2010


As much as my very being is fueled by hate of people who cause train delays (by doing things like pulling the emergency stop)...

follow the guy out of the subway and flag a cop or MTA security.

I wouldn't bet on that.

(Now if only we could citizens arrest door-blockers and leg-spreaders and bag-on-seaters too...)
posted by a young man in spats at 2:03 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Emhaybee: I agree. If he chooses to become a rapist it is his choice and his doing. And she has the right to defend herself. I am expressing concern for his future victims and wondering if this is something that might increase the probabilty (or the speed with which) he will choose to escalate. If he does that it is his fault and no one else's. Basically I was asking an empirical question: Does being humilated publicly by a woman (something misogynists likely fear) correlated with increased likelihood or speed of escalation?

If it does, that does not mean that it's her "fault" or that she was wrong in what she did. One thing can have an effect on another without there being an issue of fault. This is because only someone who has responsibility can have fault (thinking legally: no duty of care, no tort, right?). She is not responsible for making sure he doesn't rape people, he is. I get that.

I don't think it removes agency from the perpetrator, it asks how the perpetrator exercises agency. Agency requires a decision making process (though not necessarily a conscious one) where a person informed by their own views, perceptions, and experiences, sees a set of options and chooses one. This is one of the experiences he has had. I'm asking if there's reason to believe that this kind of experience is interepreted by people who have the issues he has in a way that makes them exercise their agency in way that ends even worse than this.

I have to go be somewhere else now, but I just want to clarify again, that I think this woman has been sexually assaulted. That this man is a bad man who made the choice to do what he did, and that any future choices he makes are also his, and that this woman has every right in the world to defend herself when assaulted. If my question caused confusion on any of those points, then disregard my question.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:05 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You kids can yammer on about emergency stops and what not, but Jezebel has a surprisingly thorough review of DickFlash.com. It also saves the trouble of, you know, actually having to read through DickFlash.com posts. For those who like armchair psychoanalyzing things, this is a treasure trove.
posted by geoff. at 2:06 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


A young man in spats, your link refers to a station agent and conductor not intervening, not security or a cop. I'm certainly inclined to think 2 on 1 could have stopped that but w/o knowing the details (gun? knife? 6'7"?) I can't say that for a fact.

I certainly hope an actual cop would have intervened.
posted by phearlez at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2010


young man in spats: while that link is horrifying, the court's decision does not mean "MTA Employees Not Required to Stop Rape" as phrased in the headline. It means that a station agent who immediately calls police when witnessing an apparent attack on the platform is not legally required to physically intervene. That's a pretty rational and common court decision in the U.S. Pretty much none of us--who are not trained and armed police officers--is legally required to place ourselves in physical harm to come to the aid of a third party. We can even be legally liable for physical harm to third parties if we do get involved in a physical altercation between other people and have misinterpreted who was the aggressor. It's not the station attendant's fault the police did not respond to the 911 call.

We don't even know anything about the station attendant beyond the fact that he is not trained to respond in the capacity of law enforcement. Was he old? Frail? Frightened? One hopes that bystanders can and will respond heroically. Perhaps we are justified in being disappointed in them, or shaming them, when they do not. But our justice system cannot punish them when they do not.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:14 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some guy patted my girlfriend's behind about a year ago, and she chased him for five blocks, screaming at him while calling the police. Was it the smartest thing she could have done? Maybe not, but it still makes me happy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2010 [13 favorites]


...in Toronto this is exactly what you push the emergency strip for.

In New York, this would stop the train in a god-knows-how-long tunnel, preventing medical, fire or police help from getting there.


Toronto has an Emergency Stop Device (ie. brake) at the end of each train car, to be pulled only in the case of a person being dragged in the doors.

Above every window, however, there is a Passenger Assistance Alarm strip, to be pressed "in the event of fire, illness, accidents, harassment, vandalism and threats to personal safety. Audible alarms will sound in [the] car and in the Driver's and Guard's cars. The Driver will call for emergency assistance and stop the train at the next available station and hold it there with the doors open."

I guess NYC has no such alarm???

By the way, "Audible alarm" is an understatement. Twice I've been on a train when this was activated, and it was high-pitched and deafening. I guess it's partially meant as an incentive for the evil-doer to get off the train. Certainly there is no faster way to get every passenger's attention (and piss them off) than pressing that alarm and bringing everything to a ear-peircing halt at the next station. The first time I experienced the alarm it was a medical emergency, and the initially annoyed passengers ended up relieved when they saw EMS revive a woman on the platform. The second time, I was witness to Drunk Abusive Partner A was fighting with Drunk Abusive Partner B. Partner A hit the alarm to spite Partner B. The Police met them at the next station, just in time to stop a new conflict between Partner A & B and half a dozen pissed-off passengers on my train.

Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?

Definitely. I was shocked to find out how many females at my workplace have experienced this, and for many it's extremely traumatic. Some were able to report the incidents and have the losers caught, charged, and convicted.
posted by Kabanos at 2:20 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why the fellow in the video is wearing a condom. Did he expect her to be so overwhelmed by the sight of his penis that she'd hike up her skirt, drop her panties, and bend over then and there and make sweet, gentle love to him?
posted by item at 2:22 PM on November 23, 2010


Some years back a couple of friends of mine went to secretarial college, which put them up in a large house with three floors, in a nice part of town. The house had rooms for ten 18 year old women, who changed twice a year as their course ended, year on year. I would imagine it was a flasher magnet.

Anyway, when they lived there, some guy would come and ring their doorbell and then go stand on the other side of the street, standing under a streetlight, waving his wanger so the person opening the door got an eyeful. It happened a lot. My friends would call the police, but he would then leave before they could turn up.

It happened sufficiently regularly that the police ended up sending the same constable round a few times. He was in his early twenties, and didn't find the task of calming down a ten young ladies in their pyjamas nearly as unpleasant as clearing drunk men out of pubs near closing time. He ended up becoming friends with some of them, and would get invited round for dinner from time to time.

Just as he was leaving one night, hand on the door, the doorbell rang. Cue pantomime-esque cries of "behind you" before the wanger waver got arrested.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [20 favorites]


I don't understand why the fellow in the video is wearing a condom.

Apparently, from the flashers discussion forum, a lot of them ejaculate when flashing.

Now let me go scour my entire brain with a brillo pad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


What are you supposed to do in a non-dragging emergency on the New York subway?

Explode in a shower of feathers.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


How the fuck do you know the flashing isn't a prelude to something else?

If it were, I'd think that trapping her in the middle of a subway tunnel with her potential-assaulter is that last thing you'd want to do. Do we forget the story of Kitty Genovese so easily?

I've been on the NYC subways. It's like air travel. Between stops, there is no law.

That's cute. And the gangs all snap in time when they walk down the street, too.
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on November 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


My wife grew up in NYC and had to put up with this kind of crap on a regular basis. She tells me that, even on crowded cars, people in general would just "mind their own business" while flashers assaulted her. The woman in this video did exactly the right thing—she squawked loudly and righteously, and by this, she ensured her own safety. Her actions not only shamed the perpetrator, but also heartened and/or shamed the bystanders to rise to her defense. Well done, NY woman!
posted by Mister_A at 2:32 PM on November 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


"DOES ANYONE NEED A HAND WITH ANYTHING? BECAUSE I HAVE AN EXTRA ONE, ON MY ASS!"

What a genius comment to make in the midst of a horrifying experience.
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on November 23, 2010


My question about how and when these types of offenders escalate,

My understanding is that often the reverse is true. While a flasher is not likely to become a rapist, many rapists start with voyeuristic or groping attacks and then escalate when they don't get caught or called out. Lack of consequences creates an invidious sense of invulnerability and superiority which can, theoretically, be diffused when they get attacked by their victim or arrested.
posted by Dreadnought at 2:35 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Explode in a shower of feathers.
posted by Kabanos at 2:35 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I also immediately thought of Chicken Lady)
posted by Burhanistan at 2:37 PM on November 23, 2010


[Maybe let's skip the violent revenge fantasy stuff as well, folks.]
posted by cortex at 2:38 PM on November 23, 2010


If I only had a penguin

The answer to your question is unknowable,which is the precise reason that it shouldn't and doesn't matter to the person responding to a flasher or similar.

It may have the effect you describe, it may keep the person from doing it again, it may have no effect or it may have effects not otherwise enumerated herein.

I also find your notion that there is some implicit reason this fellow might "escalate" to be entirely fallacious without knowing more about this man's sexual cosmology and I will discount and disregard the implications about it suggested by your assumption he will "escalate".

All we know for certain about this man is that he rubs his dick against strangers in the subway. We don't know his motivation in doing so nor do we know for certain whether he enjoys it, without this (and more) information speculation is entirely futile.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 2:42 PM on November 23, 2010


Only pull the emergency brake when you think it will be really really funny.

I think there is a non trivial chance of people getting badly injured in an emergency stop. They used to say that the wheels would go out of true and the train would have to be removed from service. Dont know if thats true.

New trains have some kind of push to talk think at the ends of cars right ?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:46 PM on November 23, 2010


Hasn't the whole 38-people-watched-and-noone-helped-narrative of the attack on Kitty Genovese been largely debunked? I seem to recall that at least one person called the police and someone else called out for help. These are the only semi-decent links I can find on the subject: On the Media and the British Psychological Society.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:54 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Why am I surprised to hear that flashers have their own "community?"
posted by Wordwoman at 2:56 PM on November 23, 2010


Hasn't the whole 38-people-watched-and-noone-helped-narrative of the attack on Kitty Genovese been largely debunked?

Well, the example might be debunked, but the problem it illustrates -- Someone Else's Problem/the bystander effect -- is just as valid. Depending for your life/safety on the kindness of strangers does not work as a rule.
posted by griphus at 3:02 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is going to sound very insensitive, but I don't think pulling the cord is an acceptable response. It will delay the people on that train for 20 minutes while it's sorted out but it will cause a growing ripple as stations fill that will make THOUSANDS of people literally hours late getting to their destinations.

Many hundreds of people will have ruined plans, children won't get to see a parent before bed, lots of anger will be generated by thousands of people stuck on crowded platforms who have worked all day and just want to get home.

I understand the seriousness of the harassment, and wish that everyone who does that could be apprehended and punished. However, by pulling the cord, you amplify the misery and generate a pyramid of negative feelings. If someone sexually harasses you, it hurts you. If someone sexually harasses you and you clog up a transportation system, you have in effect made it everyone's problem.

I wish there was a solution that guarantees police action, but I think in a situation like this it is better to alert the conductor and deal with it at the next stop.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:08 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is definitely an intercom in the new (R142/R142A/R160) trains, I don't think many people know about them as they're not really all that well signed or terribly obvious (crappy photo) and there's only one per car I believe.

And yeah, my commute isn't as important as your safety. Pull the ebrake if that's what you need to do.
posted by Skorgu at 3:10 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pretty much none of us--who are not trained and armed police officers--is legally required to place ourselves in physical harm to come to the aid of a third party.

Maybe not legally required, no. But I'm pretty sure I'd have to kill myself after watching some woman get raped and not doing anything to help her, and I am not really a person to whom empathy comes easy.
posted by elizardbits at 3:13 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The MTA guidelines on sexual harassment suggest the victim call 911 or report it to an employee or MTA cop.

So whatever: she pulled a cord when she shouldn't have. Well, she pulled a cord because this man PULLED HIS DICK OUT AND MASTUBATED when he shouldn't have. I'm pretty sure I know who the problem citizen is in that scenario.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:14 PM on November 23, 2010 [24 favorites]


MC, the solution is "don't sexually harass people on the train." It's not the cord-puller/whistleblower that's inconveniencing all those people, it's the lawbreaker.
posted by Gator at 3:15 PM on November 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


That there is a forum dedicated to flashers supporting each other does not surprise me, although it does sadden me; the Internet is very, very good at getting like-minded people together, for better and for worse. As a result, a lot of behavior that once was considered marginal is gaining traction as acceptable, not in society as a whole, but amongst the people who are doing it.
posted by davejay at 3:16 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


If someone sexually harasses you and you clog up a transportation system, you have in effect made it everyone's problem.

It kind of should be everyone's problem (or at least their concern).
posted by Kabanos at 3:16 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


she pulled a cord when she shouldn't have. Well, she pulled a cord because this man PULLED HIS DICK OUT AND MASTUBATED when he shouldn't have.

I can think of a way that this exchange could have been made more efficient, but it would not have ended well.
posted by davejay at 3:16 PM on November 23, 2010


Why am I surprised to hear that flashers have their own "community?"

Flash mob?
posted by Kabanos at 3:17 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Mayor Curley: "If someone sexually harasses you and you clog up a transportation system, you have in effect made it everyone's problem."

Excellent. That's two positive outcomes from one flasher apprehension incident.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yes, it should be -- has to be -- everyone's problem, but by pulling the cord it is creating a second problem which does absolutely nothing to help with the first. It's not a Teleport The Cops Into The Subway Car Cord. It does little more than stop the train in its tracks. Then the conductor has to find out what is wrong, then notify the police, then the train has to go to the next station anyway, because I can assure you the cops are not going to go into the tunnels for a flasher.

Screaming "FLASHER!" at the subway station is more efficient than pulling the cord.
posted by griphus at 3:19 PM on November 23, 2010


I was always taught to point and laugh at a flasher and to loudly shout, "Oh my God, that guy has his penis out!" or whatever.

But the best flasher response I ever, ever saw was non-human. A college campus flasher jumped out of the bushes in front of a group of women out for a walk on the lake path (I was slightly behind them, with a friend), and jumped too close to a Canadian goose's nest next to the lake.

The mother goose went completely batshit insane and starting attacking him. Full-grown Canadian geese are scary shit when they come at you. Full-grown Canadian geese pecking a skeevy overcoat-wearing flasher whose own pecker is now waving in the wind because the goose knocked him over and he's naked but for the flapping, half-off overcoat, trying desperately to protect his dick from angry mother goose's beak of death? Pure, unadulterated AWESOME.

(In fact, the goose kept him occupied until campus security showed up. That was one civic-minded goose, I tell you.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:22 PM on November 23, 2010 [328 favorites]


The disturbing thing is that if the Jezebel article is accurate, the site is operated by a subsidiary of Penthouse, which is a large and relatively mainstream company. I had figured it was just some random schmo buying some hosting space, but no. Ick.
posted by kmz at 3:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


So what is a good way of handling this? Just yelling and drawing other people's attention to it? But then what? If the guy takes off running, this tiny little lady is not chasing or tackling anyone. I don't really know what I should do if I'm ever in that situation, and to the extent that I have been in the past, I've just changed subway cars... Does anyone want to give me a script?
posted by prefpara at 3:24 PM on November 23, 2010


Dear everyone in the world with a video-capable smartphone: Please turn your phone sideways to shoot video. Thanks.
posted by The World Famous at 3:26 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


About ten years ago, my friend Andrew and another friend of his were taking the train down from far uptown (Don't know if it was the ACE or the 123) when the lights got cut in their car and some guys held them up between stations. Andrew and Friend got off at the next station and immediately found the MTA cops, not expecting them to be able to do anything about it.

Instead, the cops phoned the conductor, had him or her express the train to the next express stop, and commandeered another one which did the same. When Andrew & Friend got there, the cops finally opened the doors to the first train and had everybody line up, so that Andrew & Fried could identify their muggers, which they did, and they got all of their stuff back as well.

This is to illustrate that 1.) At least in certain circumstances the MTA Cops will respond with full force, and 2.) that their "full force" probably caused more inconvenience than a pulled cord would have (though at a more opportune time than Rush Hour, for sure).

Mind you, there was also an uncomfortable racial element to the story, on both sides. Andrew & Friend were the only white guys on the train at the time of the mugging, and the only other vocal people in the fairly-crowded car were amused by the mugging as it happened, as the story goes. On the other hand, the cops apparently jumped with relish and glee at the chance to inconvenience a train in Harlem and line all of the black passengers up against the side of the cars.

Hmm, the more I think about this story the less I like it.

Also, another friend of mine, Mariah, fell asleep on the Subway about five years ago, and woke up to a guy jerking off in front of her. An amateur kickboxer, she fought back and berated the guy, and then shouted down the only other guy on the car for not having done anything.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:37 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


griphus: "Screaming "FLASHER!" at the subway station is more efficient than pulling the cord."

More efficient but not, I would argue, more effective. It's really nice that you think yelling FLASHER in a subway station is going to have any immediate effect at all. I would point you to the fact that when you are a young girl growing up in an urban environment, you are taught to yell FIRE rather than HELP or RAPE if you want attention and help. Fire is everyone's immediate problem; pulling the cord is everyone's immediate problem.

Rape? Not so much. Flasher? Yeah right.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:45 PM on November 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


This is going to sound very insensitive, but I don't think pulling the cord is an acceptable response. It will delay the people on that train for 20 minutes while it's sorted out but it will cause a growing ripple as stations fill that will make THOUSANDS of people literally hours late getting to their destinations.

I don't find this argument nearly as compelling as the fact that if you pull on the brake you'll be trapping yourself in the subway car with who or whatever is causing the emergency and significantly increasing the amount of time before outside help can arrive.

If I read what the transit authorities say correctly, you shouldn't pull it if you see someone stabbed to death in front of you, or if the car suddenly bursts into flames, or in any other situation short of someone being dragged by the train.

This isn't to suggest that this woman did something wrong. She was in the midst of being the victim of a crime and did what she reasonably thought would halt the crime and allow the authorities to arrest the flasher. However, it's worth discussing the use of the emergency brake so that future crime/emergency victims realize that is isn't the most effective way to deal with most emergencies on the subway.
posted by Copronymus at 3:50 PM on November 23, 2010


>Mayor Curley: "If someone sexually harasses you and you clog up a transportation system, you have in effect made it everyone's problem."

Excellent. That's two positive outcomes from one flasher apprehension incident.


Why should literally thousands of people get stuck underground for hours because some pervert showed you his dick? If your day is ruined, everyone's should be?
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:54 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


More efficient but not, I would argue, more effective. It's really nice that you think yelling FLASHER in a subway station is going to have any immediate effect at all. I would point you to the fact that when you are a young girl growing up in an urban environment, you are taught to yell FIRE rather than HELP or RAPE if you want attention and help.

Yeah, 'effective' is what I meant and I will completely concede that second part. I've definitely heard it before and it makes a lot of sense. However, yelling "FIRE" alerts people to where you/where they can go to help. Pulling the cord creates a situation that only the conductor/engineer may fix, and prevents anyone but the conductor/engineer from getting to you. And they're a whole lot more likely to lock themselves in their booth than they are to actually do something.
posted by griphus at 3:56 PM on November 23, 2010


She's obviously terrified

Well, I don't know about obviously. It's an intense situation, but she doesn't seem threatened to me. In fact, she seems righteous, furious and in control. It strikes me as unnecessary, and kind of unfair, to cast her as some petrified victim, not that there's anything wrong with that either. And the flasher's actions are repellent, criminal and wrong either way.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:00 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


a lot of them ejaculate when flashing

The kink is that strong? Really?

Hmmm....

I wonder what kind of money can be made then, from a flasher theme park? A lush greenspace with pathways passing lots of tall bushes, a little train that runs around it's periphery, and legions of comely 'actors' in business garb walking briskly around and trying to look surprised hundreds of times a day.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:04 PM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think she did the right thing, pulling the cord. . .

She didn't. Do not pull the emergency cord. Seriously. Don't. I'm pretty sure that if there were a panel that said "Guy With His Dick Out" it would say, like all the others, "Do not pull the emergency cord".

P.S.: All her other instincts (humiliating the guy and calling the cops) seem to have been spot on.
posted by The Bellman at 4:15 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


CynicalKnight, the armchair psychologist in me says "not much." The kink seems to stem from both transgression and the desire to assert sexual control over some unsuspecting other.

And Mayor Curley, hopefully this will lead to the MTA doing a better job at alerting New Yorkers to how they should properly respond to this kind of thing, but until then, getting pissed at the victim for taking charge of the situation in a way which might have caused inconvenience to others, and casting it as her problem and nobody else's, is some seriously twisted victim-blaming.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:16 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


On a lighter note:

I was at a comedy show this year where, at one point, the comedian asked the audience whether anyone in the audience had ever been flashed.

Nearly every woman in the audience put up their hands.

The comedian asked what they did when it happened. Some people vouched for the 'point and laugh' approach. My favourite response was "I dropped my shopping bags and KICKED HIM IN THE COCK!".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Where's Jeff Goldblum with a straight razor when you need him?
posted by bwg at 4:27 PM on November 23, 2010


Yeah.. don't ever pull the emergency brake.. I would've been so pissed at that woman if I was on her car. I would've enjoyed her chastisement of the asshole, but seriously, pulling the cord meant she had to deal with him for a longer time, and annoyed everyone on the train and in every single station ahead of them.
posted by ReeMonster at 4:31 PM on November 23, 2010


Why should literally thousands of people get stuck underground for hours because some pervert showed you his dick? If your day is ruined, everyone's should be?

Because unfortunately no one gets taken seriously until literally thousands of people get inconvenienced. Otherwise this bullshit will just continue, and then your spouse/sibling/niece/child/friend/etc also get the fun of being traumatized (and then not taken seriously) on a routine ride home.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 4:37 PM on November 23, 2010 [33 favorites]


You know what? The more I think about it, if you want to get pissy with someone because a woman pulling the emergency cord when she's being sexually assualted on a subway and for whatever unfathomable reason you don't want to get pissy at the guy with his johnson out, I think you should get pissy with the MTA.

It's called an Emergency Cord. It is labled Emergency. Except apparently, nothing actually qualifies as an emergency - the signage basically tells you the various circumstances under under which you should not pull the cord.

You might as well put up a big red button with a sign that says DO NOT PRESS IN CASE OF PANIC. Really, really bad UI design.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:05 PM on November 23, 2010 [37 favorites]


DarlingBri, the cord is intended for emergencies that require the train to stop immediately, like dragging, where the motion of the train itself is the cause of the emergency.

Fire, Medical and Police or 911 emergencies require the appropriate authorities to be notified and also requires the train reach the closest station. I don't think the MTA trains have any facilities for this, like an intercom or w/e, beyond a passenger hailing a subway conductor or station cop.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 5:15 PM on November 23, 2010


If only I had a penguin..., the inability of certain users to process text aside, I think it is a great question! I still remembering reading Michael Briere's statement and thinking how straight forward, reasoned, and human it was. Sociopathic too, obviously.. Yet his ability to reason, and his humanity still led him to commit an atrocious crime.

At some level it may indeed be unknowable, but anybody should be able to figure out that a ton of psychological research gets done on this type of thing, and there is no doubt lots of incite to be gained from it. I'd certainly be interested in some of that information, if somebody can provide digestible chunks.

Personally, and I have no special knowledge at all, I'm not sure that the men who flash on the subway are the same guys who committ violent sexual assaults (or worse). As traumatizing as it is for the victim, flashing on the subway is a terribly impotent activity..
posted by Chuckles at 5:16 PM on November 23, 2010


I think I was eleven when my mother sent me to the supermarket for something or other. It was the height of humidity, August, NYC, so I think I had every reason to be wearing shorts. Anyway, once there at the market, I found myself weirdly shadowed by the security guard, up and down all the aisles. I think at one point I turned to face him and saw something radically unfamiliar, but in any event I wisely left empty handed and upon returning to my apartment, answered my parents' query of "Where's the milk/eggs/ whatever"--that part I just can't summon--with, "There was this man in a uniform following me, and then I saw his, I don't know what I saw. But I know something was wrong." With that, my slight and portly father walked me back to the supermarket, confronted the manager with what I had said about his security personnel, and made sure the manager thanked me for making the report. I offer this not as a derail so much as, well, I don't know what made me know I should get out of there. I don't know if my parents gave me something that made me cogent enough. But I am grateful for it anyway. And Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Anyway, as someone who came of age in Manhattan in the 1970's and was pretty much sheltered but also privy to the nastiness that abounded, I am grateful that my parents and my big brother always made me feel like it might just be okay to yell at assholes masturbating right in front of you at the Sailors and Soldiers monument in Riverside Park.
posted by emhutchinson at 5:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Why should literally thousands of people get stuck underground for hours because some pervert showed you his dick? If your day is ruined, everyone's should be?

Yeah, because my first thought when being assaulted should be that I better not inconvenience someone else.
posted by rtha at 5:29 PM on November 23, 2010 [40 favorites]


He might well be a perv but that video doesn't come close to showing his dick out, which makes this video vigilante-ism at its worst.
Posting it exposes the woman to serious legal liability civil and probably criminal and assuming he is a perv, the thought that he could sue the pants *off of her* for slander and a whole lot of other charges is an important lesson on how to use your cell phone irresponsibly and at great and ironic peril to the victim.
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:30 PM on November 23, 2010


As traumatizing as it is for the victim, flashing on the subway is a terribly impotent activity

I get the impression that a lot of people feel this way; you hear "flasher" and you think of something rather cartoony and ridiculous, like the stereotypical "naked guy in raincoat opens it and the ladies are SHOCKED, ha ha!"

But you know, isn't it almost always more than just that? More than just "Oh, I saw a penis"? Isn't it usually accompanied by masturbation and/or physical contact with a victim, either surreptitiously or openly?

It's kind of like how a lot of people use the words "peeping Tom" to describe someone who's looking in a woman's window watching her undress -- these words, like "flasher," have a sort of lighthearted connotation, like they're not that serious and they're just passive activities, with no action and therefore no "real" crime occurring, but really, lurking in a woman's window is trespassing and invasion of privacy and he's certainly not just looking -- how often are they ever content just to look? Or in the case of so-called flashers, just to be seen?

Like in this case, we're all calling him a flasher, but apparently he was on her. Up against her, "even though there was all this room" on the car. If he touched her it's at least battery, right? And certainly with his penis out it's got to be sexual assault, right?

I think a lot of people don't take these crimes as seriously as they are, partly because of these indulgent little names we give the perps, and the associations we tend to have with those names.
posted by Gator at 5:35 PM on November 23, 2010 [38 favorites]


Because unfortunately no one gets taken seriously until literally thousands of people get inconvenienced. Otherwise this bullshit will just continue, and then your spouse/sibling/niece/child/friend/etc also get the fun of being traumatized (and then not taken seriously) on a routine ride home.

This is pretty dramatic prose, inasmuch as it's going to continue no matter how many trains get stopped.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:40 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hesitate to accuse you of an inability to read Gator, but I also note a distinct aim for the tried and true post-feminist argumentation instead of actual engagement on the things I said. I did not suggest that the assault was insignificant or "cartoony". I never questioned the seriousness of the crime at all.

I did question whether flashers--let's call them Low-impact Rapists, just to avoid the cartoony language--are the same men who commit violent stranger-rape. Reading that Jezebel article has me questioning my questioning a little.

It really is impossible to discuss this stuff around here. I should have known better than to jump in.
posted by Chuckles at 5:48 PM on November 23, 2010


No, Low-impact Rapist isn't right either, that should be Non-Penetrative Rapist. The first marginalizes the impact, obviously, and that isn't right.
posted by Chuckles at 5:51 PM on November 23, 2010


Because unfortunately no one gets taken seriously until literally thousands of people get inconvenienced. Otherwise this bullshit will just continue, and then your spouse/sibling/niece/child/friend/etc also get the fun of being traumatized (and then not taken seriously) on a routine ride home.

This is pretty dramatic prose, inasmuch as it's going to continue no matter how many trains get stopped.


Is it? Seems like the MTA might decide to, oh, do a better job of educating the public about the proper flasher-reaction-protocol and/or policing the cars if they had to deal with this all the time. I'd be fine with that.

Which is actually a win-win, instead of another round of "Stop inconveniencing us all with your demands to be treated like a human being, woman!"

Of course, even if the MTA did make a better stab at rider education, I'm pretty much fine with a person being threatened doing the best they can in a stressful situation to protect themselves, rather than just letting some guy rub his dick on them because they're afraid someone, somewhere, might be annoyed about them doing the first thing they could think of.

Here's the problem: you're blaming the victim. Save your pull-cord issues for the MTA, not for a crime victim. Unless you really, honestly, believe your right to get to where you're going on time trumps her right not to get spooged on by skanky assholes. Because that's pretty much how it sounds.
posted by emjaybee at 6:09 PM on November 23, 2010 [26 favorites]


Remember when Spider-Man didn't stop that flasher from getting to the elevator and later that same flasher jizzed all over Uncle Ben? That's why you should care.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Why should literally thousands of people get stuck underground for hours because some pervert showed you his dick? If your day is ruined, everyone's should be?

It sounds like literally thousands of people are not getting stuck underground solely because some pervert showed someone his dick, Mayor Curley. From what I'm reading above (please correct me if this is inaccurate; I don't live in NYC, though I have been on the subway there), they're getting stuck underground because MTA hasn't given people on every train car a way to contact the authorities—or even the conductor—in small, moving spaces where there's little or no cellphone reception. If that's the case, and there truly isn't an emergency intercom button in every train car, what else is the woman supposed to do? It sounds like Toronto's emergency strips are something every city with public transit by train should consider adopting.

MTA.info has a "Riding Safety" page.

Unfortunately, there's nothing on that page about the in-train "red push-this-button" described above. MTA instructions say to call 911 or 212-267-RAPE (7273) in cases like this, but what if you're deep underground without cellphone reception?

You deal with it in the station. Even drunks know to get off the train before vomiting because it'll screw up the line.

You know, that's a good line, but it's not as if people can choose when they're going to be flashed or otherwise sexually assaulted. It's not her fault that the guy chose to do whatever it was he was going to do between stations, thus forcing her to deal with it there. What if it's 20 minutes between stations—is she supposed to just let him flash her until the station, then lamely yell, as people are exiting and entering the train around her, "Hey, uh, 20 minutes ago that guy flashed me!"? It's the immediacy of the thing—and the fact that they're all stuck in there with her—that leads people to try to help. And even then, not all of them do.

Sure, she could've yelled at the time it happened and still not pulled the emergency brake. But that opens her up to the possibility that the guy could escape, or maybe even appear to leave the area, but actually hide somewhere outside the station to attack her. There aren't a lot of good answers to this problem.

And again, if there really isn't an emergency intercom button in every subway car, maybe that lost time and money is what's needed to get the message to those in charge that they should fix that.
posted by limeonaire at 6:20 PM on November 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


He might well be a perv but that video doesn't come close to showing his dick out, which makes this video vigilante-ism at its worst.
Posting it exposes the woman to serious legal liability civil and probably criminal and assuming he is a perv, the thought that he could sue the pants *off of her* for slander and a whole lot of other charges is an important lesson on how to use your cell phone irresponsibly and at great and ironic peril to the victim.


1. She clearly didn't take the video.
2. There is nothing to indicate that she posted it (the Youtube Profile is for a 23 year old - she looks older).
3. Your allocation of possible liability is thus incorrect.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if it's 20 minutes between stations—is she supposed to just let him flash her until the station, then lamely yell, as people are exiting and entering the train around her, "Hey, uh, 20 minutes ago that guy flashed me!"?

I'm not sure you're aware of how the NYC subway system is laid out. The only way it can be 20 minutes between station is if the train comes to a screeching halt on the track. I have twice in twenty years been held between stations for longer than fifteen minutes. Like if there was electrical issues or a track fire or someone were to trigger the emergency brake. Otherwise, it would be no longer than three to four minutes into the next station. Seven if you're going over a bridge.

What the hell are the people in the car going to do anyway? Beat him? Perform a citizen's arrest? Even if they held him down, it'd be better that they did it as the train was moving along to the next station. There's nothing that can be done to help her that would be expedited by the train being stuck in a tunnel.
posted by griphus at 6:33 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Dudes, let it go about the cord.
posted by Mister_A at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure you're aware of how the NYC subway system is laid out. The only way it can be 20 minutes between station is if the train comes to a screeching halt on the track. I have twice in twenty years been held between stations for longer than fifteen minutes. Like if there was electrical issues or a track fire or someone were to trigger the emergency brake. Otherwise, it would be no longer than three to four minutes into the next station. Seven if you're going over a bridge.

Ah, I'm learning something, then. I thought that it was possible for, say, express trains to go longer between stops than that. I confess no firsthand knowledge of it, though.

Is it at least accurate, however, that there isn't an emergency intercom on every train?
posted by limeonaire at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2010


Or "train car," rather.
posted by limeonaire at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2010


DarlingBri, the cord is intended for emergencies that require the train to stop immediately, like dragging, where the motion of the train itself is the cause of the emergency.

You know, in that case I have to agree that they should stop calling it an "Emergency Brake" and start calling it a "Dragging Brake."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:48 PM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


limeonaire, express trains do go on a bit, maybe for like 10 minutes max (I'm stretching it I know).

As to whether there's an emergency intercom on every train... I haven't looked but I wouldn't be surprised if there's one. I can't imagine it would always be conveniently located.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 6:59 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if it were 20 minutes between stations, all pulling the cord would do is trap you in a train, in a tunnel, with the person attacking or flashing you. No one could come to your aid until they had walked through the tunnels to reach your stopped train or they got the train started again and you continued to the next station. Which you were already heading to before you delayed things by pulling the cord. I agree that NYC subways need a way to contact the conductor, and the emergency brake is misnamed. But seriously, pulling the brake in this situation is a terrible idea. I'm not blaming her for doing it. She probably either freaked out or didn't know.
posted by Mavri at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2010


Seriously, this post might as well have been labeled WOMAN PULLS EMERGENCY CORD for the discussion it has engendered.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:31 PM on November 23, 2010 [30 favorites]


I don't want to wade into the emergency stop/rapist arguments. I just came here to say Eyebrows Mcgee's comment should probably be sidebarred. Must be the funniest thing I've read on MetaFilter all month.
posted by mannequito at 7:32 PM on November 23, 2010


Seriously, this post might as well have been labeled WOMAN PULLS EMERGENCY CORD for the discussion it has engendered.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 PM


Tell me about it.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:08 PM on November 23, 2010


...
(In fact, the goose kept him occupied until campus security showed up. That was one civic-minded goose, I tell you.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:22 PM on November 23


Doesn't NYC have a terrible goose problem? Maybe you could solve two problems at once by training them to prevent sexual assault. Put one in each subway car, or hell, maybe women could just have attack geese for pets. Instead of miniature dog in a handbag, keep a goose trained to hate penis at the ready.
posted by 445supermag at 8:22 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


What should she have done instead of pulling the emergency cord? As soon as the subway doors open, the guy will make a run for it.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 8:38 PM on November 23, 2010


Remember when Spider-Man didn't stop that flasher from getting to the elevator and later that same flasher jizzed all over Uncle Ben? That's why you should care.

You should only care because a man might be the victim eventually instead of a woman?
posted by grouse at 8:38 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even drunks know to get off the train before vomiting because it'll screw up the line.

This may be true on the NYC subway proper, but from personal experience I know it's not true on the late night PATH trains.

And while I was never flashed on either the PATH or the NYC subway, I was slapped on the ass in a Tube station in London as a pre-teen, and as a teenager, I was shown "French postcards" by a man on the Paris Metro. I didn't realize what was happening the first time, but with the dirty postcards I was too embarrassed to do anything. I only wish I'd had the presence of mind to speak up the way this woman did.
posted by immlass at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2010


I have ridden the NY subways for years, and I did not know that the only reason you were supposed to pull the emergency cord is because someone was getting dragged by a train. I am glad to know that, and will never pull the emergency cord for any other emergency.

That said, some asshole waving his johnson at you is, indeed, an emergency. Apparently you are not supposed to pull the cord for that particular emergency, just as you are not supposed to pull the cord for someone setting a small fire on the subway (something else I've seen), but can't we all just step off the person who was freaked out by some antisocial douchenozzle causing an emergency and misunderstanding what particular kinds of emergencies one was supposed to pull the cord for?

Because, fuck, people. There is only one jerk here and it is the person deciding to wave his schlong in public. The lady who didn't understand the emergency cord rules is someone who made a mistake in an emergency, not some cruel subway-delayer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:57 PM on November 23, 2010 [19 favorites]


reddit had this happening on the paris metro a week ago
posted by the noob at 10:00 PM on November 23, 2010


Seriously, this post might as well have been labeled WOMAN PULLS EMERGENCY CORD for the discussion it has engendered.

The emergency cord is apparently an interesting/important issue, based on the discussion it has engendered.
posted by John Cohen at 10:34 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the Pope's position is on using a condom while flashing?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:41 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


On the question of exhibitionism and escalation:

Back when I was doing domestic violence work, the conventional wisdom was that self-esteem based therapies were bad for (criminal) exhibitionists, because often, instead of easing the need for the offending conduct, the therapy gave them the confidence to escalate to rape. If that indeed is the case, than shaming of the kind we see in this video could be predicted to make escalation less likely, and not more.

That said, a cursory (30-40 minute) browse through the literature didn't turn up any published research to back that idea up. (Roy Baumeister has done quite a bit of work that shows that "threatened egoism" is a more important cause of antisocial conduct than chronically low self-esteem, but it doesn't look like any of his work deals with exhibitionists in particular.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:36 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi, MetaFilter, this is my first ever post. Just saw this link via Shelby Knox and it appears they have arrested the perp.

Speaking out really made a difference in this case. Police were able to quickly arrest 51-year-old Mario Valdivia of Queens. He’s been charged with forcible touching, public lewdness and sex abuse.
posted by JLovebomb at 4:22 AM on November 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


The emergency cord is apparently an interesting/important issue, based on the discussion it has engendered.

Then here's a place in Metatalk where they can have that discussion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on November 24, 2010


Has no one made the "I whip my penis back and forth" joke?
posted by Eideteker at 5:02 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?

I'd say so, yes. Because it's what you might call directed indecent exposure. The intention of a flash is to get one particular woman to react, and the reaction of most women subjected to this nasty, cowardly, sleazy behaviour is shock, and some degree of distress. Behaviour that causes shock and distress is not necessarily criminal, but I think the inflicting of those things via a criminal and sexually motivated act makes it so.
posted by Decani at 5:04 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pretty much none of us--who are not trained and armed police officers--is legally required to place ourselves in physical harm to come to the aid of a third party.

Thank goodness some of us still have enough basic moral decency not to only do the right thing when it is legally required of us.

I've intervened in fights and threatening situations numerous times in my life and I always would. And by God, I'd hope someone would do the same for me if I were ever in need of assistance. Sometimes life gets dangerous and the decent thing is to deal with it for the sake of what's right and proper, not to hide cravenly behind "Well, I'm not legally required to put myself at risk here, you're just going to have to get beaten up/raped/robbed". I still believe we have a civic duty to each other - and a human one.
posted by Decani at 5:11 AM on November 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've been told by an experienced psychologist (and then psychology teacher) that the best thing you can do at a flasher is to point and laugh. Since that's the reaction they don't want.

I wouldn't recommend this.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:18 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Serious question: is a flash a sexual assault?
"Sexual contact" means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person not married to the actor for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party. It includes the touching of the actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing.
NYS Penal Code: ARTICLE 130--SEX OFFENSES

So I think this is "Sexual abuse in the third degree" but I am not a lawyer. I'm also not sure NYS has a statutory definition of assault; ie, that term is not used in the penal code that I can see.

I'm fine with characterising what this man did as abuse, though I myself would call it an assault.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:40 AM on November 24, 2010


I remember a stunt my girlfriend pulled back when I was in college. We were on the freeway heading home from classes. I have the passenger seat back half-dozing from a tiring day. My GF starts chuckling as she breaks out her notebook and starts scribbling something using the steering wheel to write against. I ask her what is up. She responds that a party in another car held up a sign saying "Show us your tits!" (She was rather on the busty side, FYI.) I note she's written "Show me yours, I'll show you mine." She shows the sign. She then describes the contortions the other passenger goes through to demonstrate his now wind-whipped endowment. She then flips the notebook to a fresh page and writes "Sorry. Don't take anything under 8 inches." and shows it. She then describes some obscene gestures made her way and I hear honking. At this point, I raise the passenger seat, grinning...
posted by Samizdata at 7:13 AM on November 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Asking whether a flash is a sexual assault I think is missing that the man allegedly touched her as well.

I'm also not sure NYS has a statutory definition of assault; ie, that term is not used in the penal code that I can see.

It's in Article 120.
posted by grouse at 7:24 AM on November 24, 2010


Samizdata, she did that while driving?
posted by Zozo at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


CBS New York:
Police were able to quickly arrest 51-year-old Mario Valdivia of Queens. He’s been charged with forcible touching, public lewdness and sex abuse.
posted by grouse at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know what the proper reaction is in that situation, but I know the few times it has happened to me my reaction was always confrontation.

What annoys me is that whatever my negative reaction is, whether it be mockery or fury - there is a flasher that gets off on it. It feels like a no win situation on the victim's part unless you can get them arrested. Though reading through the Jezebel article, some of them are even happy when they get arrested!
posted by Julnyes at 9:17 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should only care because a man might be the victim eventually instead of a woman?

The joke, too seriously you take it.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2010


Definitely flashing is an issue we don't do very well. I'm not going to express my opinion of this in here because I feel like it's been pre-emptively shouted down upthread already.
posted by tehloki at 11:33 AM on November 24, 2010


I think we should live in a world with more flashing. Getting flashed always makes me smile.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:46 PM on November 24, 2010


There's always the vomit on the assailant deterrent.
posted by nickyskye at 7:07 PM on November 24, 2010


When I first moved to Florida, I saw all these giant black birds flying around all the time and learned they were vultures. I'd never seen vultures outside a zoo before. Cool. Then I found out they use projectile vomit as a defense mechanism. AWESOME.
posted by Gator at 7:15 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I keep a can of Great Stuff expanding foam in my backpack for these situations. Spray on your flashers penis. It will quickly cover up their junk.
posted by humanfont at 7:28 PM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dude's a repeat offender.

I remember getting flashed when I was living in Paris and how horrifying it was. I was a kid at the time and already embarrassed to be a 'loud American' in France where no one so much as sneezes in public. The Metro was crowded with morning commuters and this short, average looking man of about 40 kept pushing himself against me. I did everything I could to avoid him but with the crowd already suffocating me I'd find myself pinned down by that disgusting pervert no matter which way I moved; the more I fought him off the more aggressive he became.

BUT -- I didn't have the courage (or the language skills) to berate him the way that spectacular woman did. I just kept trying to get away from him. So now, years later, watching this fabulous stranger berating that sicko in front of everyone on the train? Now there's a happy ending!
posted by ohyouknow at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


This post reminds me of a rather horrifying experience from a few months ago:

I was in a bar in the afternoon, as a street fair outside was winding down. My date, a former bartender/bouncer at that same bar, was out back, helping detain a guy who had punched one of the on-duty bouncers in the face. I was waiting, kinda bored, when a guy came up and idly ran his hand across my torso as he walked by. I grabbed his wrist, slapped his hand, shoved it back at him and said, "I believe you misplaced this." He looked shocked for a second, then got right down into my face and growled, "If you hit me again, I'll smash your face in." I shrank, and he turned and walked away. I think about it now, months later, and I still feel small and powerless.

This shit happens to women all the time. Good on this woman for standing up, and succeeding! She's my hero for the month.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:33 PM on November 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


Zozo: "Samizdata, she did that while driving?"

Yup.
posted by Samizdata at 10:21 PM on November 24, 2010


I wonder if the people on the flasher site are going to be prosecuted as well.
posted by humanfont at 5:54 AM on November 25, 2010


Sorry if this has been covered before, but why do people even think she pulled the cord? IS there any evidence other than a quote from a creepy flasher perv on the creepy flasher website?

The woman is my hero too. The way she said, "Oh yes, fuck yes," made me want to pump my fists.

I haven't had the flasher but I have had the rubber. Several times. It's like -- wow there's a hard thing poking into me must me a shoulder or a bag and OH NOT THE BEES AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHH
posted by angrycat at 7:23 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think we should live in a world with more flashing. Getting flashed always makes me smile.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:46 PM on November 24


You think we should live in a world built around your personal preferences and reactions? How entertainingly juvenile and solipsistic of you.
posted by Decani at 3:46 PM on November 25, 2010


I teach abnormal psychology and we just talked about exhibitionism in my class the other day. I really don't recommend that anyone points and laughs, because sometimes the flasher is actually looking for that reaction (there are a lot of guys who get off on humiliation--sadism doesn't just have to be about pain). They may also be looking for expressions of shock. Obviously, it's hard to call out their behavior without being shocked in some way, but they are committing a crime, and victims should totally do what they can to make sure the guy doesn't get away with it.

Anyway, this woman is awesome and I'm glad she came forward.
posted by Fuego at 5:06 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


ohyouknow: "Dude's a repeat offender."

From that news story:

Valdivia has now pleaded guilty to forcible touching in this case and a more recent case in October. He was sentenced to 4 months behind bars.

Fantastic. I wish he was going to get some kind of help or treatment while in prison so he'd be less likely to re-offend when he gets out, but I doubt that's the case. In the interim, I'm glad he's seeing jail time.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:55 PM on November 25, 2010


Public exposure in a diner.
posted by antgly at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2010


Her name is Nicola Briggs. She has happily come forward to the news (via Jezebel, who are trying to get an interview with her). The offender got out on bail and immediately did it again, now he is being deported (sorry to the women of Mexico, agree with DarlingBri some treatment would be nice).
posted by Danila at 2:19 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


She gave an interview to CBS.
posted by Gator at 2:27 PM on November 26, 2010


Briggs also wants people to know that when she turned for help a lot of men on that train kept the suspect there until police arrived.

Hell yes. Good job, bystanders!

I like how they call her "tiny" without listing a height. Now I'm feeling vertically challenged.
posted by Devika at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2010


I was taught to respond to flashers by laughing and shouting, "It's like a penis: only smaller!"
posted by lollusc at 3:54 PM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


@zarq I own a scythe. It's not exactly encouraged to take them in public transit . Even in Bosnia where people often use scythes to mow the lawn, you don't go taking it on the bus or the tram. Still the thought of flashers getting cleared off the MTA by scythe wielding women is somehow really delightful.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:02 PM on December 12, 2010


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