Something "special" in the air?
March 17, 2008 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Woman sues American Airlines for not preventing in-flight masturbation. Oh sure, they can tell breastfeeding mothers to cover up, but when it comes to American Airlines and a fellow passenger ejaculating into a sleeping female passenger's hair? No problem!
posted by bitter-girl.com (149 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite


 
Ewwwwww.
posted by MythMaker at 4:49 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


From this link:
The woman tried to get the attention of flight attendants, to no avail. A few passengers finally intervened (she woke up to the guy still going at it, the newspaper says) and when the plane landed at LAX he was arrested.

During the investigation that followed, flight attendants said they saw the man change his seat. The woman accuses the flight staff of not properly vetting passengers to keep the cabin free of unsafe situations.

American has apologized to the woman, but she still wants a jury trial and damages.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:49 PM on March 17, 2008


The woman accuses the flight staff of not properly vetting passengers to keep the cabin free of unsafe situations.


How exactly do you vet for 'likely to spooge into sleeping passengers hair'?
posted by Brockles at 4:52 PM on March 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh come on. Who among us can honestly say that he hasn't accidently spooged into a fellow airline passenger's hair.
posted by Justinian at 4:53 PM on March 17, 2008


And they say you can't get any good inflight entertainment.
posted by patr1ck at 4:53 PM on March 17, 2008


Who among us can honestly say that he hasn't accidently spooged into a fellow airline passenger's hair.

Yeah, but they weren't asleep! That's just SICK.
posted by Brockles at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Honestly! I mean, you can't bring nail clippers on a plane. But penises are ok? WTF?!?

Something is totally wrong with this picture. Wake up, people!

No, seriously... wake up! There's a guy jerking off in your hair...

posted by miss lynnster at 4:59 PM on March 17, 2008 [20 favorites]


What really irritates me is that at landing, the flight attendants are obsessed with getting you to take out of your iPod earbuds (even if it's not on), put the (usually broken) seat back into some mythic, unattainable position, and generally harass the living daylights out of you....... oh, unless you're being assaulted by another passenger. Then you're on your own.

And as I mentioned above, judging from the sheer number of flight-attendants-harassing-nursing-mothers stories we've read here and elsewhere, you cannot tell me some guy managed to get himself to this, umm... stage without at least one of the attendants noticing.

To those who've commented on other sites "well, those 5'5" female flight attendants don't want to confront someone clearly batty enough to do such a thing," I say ask the pilot to announce: "Would the gentleman in seat 21-C please stop masturbating?" Public shaming! And then arrest!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:01 PM on March 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


I don't get it. Did this guy join the mile high club or not?
posted by phaedon at 5:02 PM on March 17, 2008


Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff??

Am I right folks???
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:04 PM on March 17, 2008


Hmmm....seems fake. Where's the original story from an actual newspaper or station, or perhaps the lawsuit?
posted by cashman at 5:06 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Single people should have the same rights as partnered people to join the mile high club.

Any outcome other than a ruling to that effect is blatant discrimination.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:14 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's posts like these that make me wish I were quick and clever enough to offer something terribly witty or sensitive enough to offer something of value.
Alas, I got nuthin'.
posted by hojoki at 5:14 PM on March 17, 2008


It was supposedly from the fort-worth star telegram (I did see the blog url). Didn't see it on their site. Eh, whatever.
posted by cashman at 5:15 PM on March 17, 2008


The link is from the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram's aeronautics blog, cashman.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:17 PM on March 17, 2008


Annnd, too late with my reply, cashman. Doh!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:19 PM on March 17, 2008


I don't buy it. If this were real, there would be a better source than a blog post for it.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:20 PM on March 17, 2008


No, you're right - it's their blog, so I guess that's the place it's at.
posted by cashman at 5:20 PM on March 17, 2008


Normally I'm up for third-grade humor, but jeez, guys. This woman probably feels totally violated. This is a far cry from funny.
posted by jbickers at 5:21 PM on March 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Brockles writes "The woman accuses the flight staff of not properly vetting passengers to keep the cabin free of unsafe situations.
"

"How exactly do you vet for 'likely to spooge into sleeping passengers hair'?"


Hillary's been vetted. 35 years of experience.

And Bill, well, let's just say he knows a bit about this too.
posted by orthogonality at 5:22 PM on March 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Short of finding the logs for flight 2074 to LA or someone pulling the lawsuit and posting it, I don't know what else you want, b1tr0t. If I lived in Texas, I'd go down to the courthouse for you, but I don't!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:23 PM on March 17, 2008


it's not news, it's metafilter.com
posted by dismas at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2008


I'm not saying you are a shill, but the SkyTalk post sure sounds like something they made up to drive circulation.

The rest of the blog is pretty bland airline industry stuff. Then suddenly a mess in some woman's hair with well over 500 comments.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:29 PM on March 17, 2008


And what's with those little packets of peanuts?
posted by PM at 5:33 PM on March 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


United Press International has the story, citing the paper itself.
posted by Locative at 5:33 PM on March 17, 2008


I remember reading about this on the blue (or mecha) around when it occurred, but i can't remember where to find it.

oh, and ewww....
posted by schyler523 at 5:37 PM on March 17, 2008


Fair enough, b1tr0t, but do you really think a newspaper's blog is stupid enough to just, oh, make shit up to get a bunch of comments? In 1998, maybe -- in 2008, I would hope not. And since it's probably been linked six ways to Sunday all over the place, no wonder it's got a lot of comments. It's fairly horrifying, don't you think?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:38 PM on March 17, 2008


No one else legit seems to be carrying the story or referencing any other source. There's a Snopes thread with some skepticism.

(Goes off to clear out "man masturbating plane" from search history)
posted by Locative at 5:39 PM on March 17, 2008


jbickers writes "This woman probably feels totally violated. This is a far cry from funny"

I missed the part in which she was raped? It doesn't see like the guy exploded on her wilfully, which could be seen as aggressive, but regardless, jerking off is still socially unacceptable in public.
posted by elpapacito at 5:41 PM on March 17, 2008


I mean, you can't bring nail clippers on a plane. But penises are ok? WTF?!?


You laugh now, but the TSA is at this very moment gearing up to confiscate said penises.
posted by bwg at 5:41 PM on March 17, 2008


Something smells here, and it's not the semen.

So this dude sits next to this sleeping woman and proceeds to jerk off. People saw him moving there but the people in the seats on the opposite side of the aisle didn't see him masturbating? The stewards and stewardesses didn't see this happening? How could not one single person, including the passenger sitting infront of her who later "confirmed the semen" was in her hair, not have seen or heard this was happening?

I'm not claiming that this is fake news, though it could well be. I'm not saying that the victim, if indeed the victim even exists, is making things up. It's horrifying if true. But as I said, something here isn't adding up for me.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:44 PM on March 17, 2008


jerking off is still socially unacceptable in public.

Why don't we do it in the road? *YouTube, NSFW, Offensive Title
posted by bwg at 5:46 PM on March 17, 2008


At least he didn't pull down his pants and take a shit on the First Class Cabin food service cart!
posted by ericb at 5:47 PM on March 17, 2008


You're kidding, right, elpapacito? How is changing seats to move in next to a sleeping woman and then masturbating to completion -- which, somehow (MAGICALLY, I suppose) ends up in her hair -- not a violation? And since when do you have to have full-on physical penetration to have something count as a sexual assault? It's not like he accidentally threw up on her and missed the airsick bag, he put some effort into it.

I didn't post this for laughs, although the situation is so absurd you can't help but laugh (coping mechanism, I guess). I posted it because here we are, in a country obsessed with taking away our nail clippers, knitting needles and more-than-3-ounces-of-fluid before boarding a plane, yet our flight attendants and air marshals can't bother to protect a sleeping passenger???
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:49 PM on March 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Normally I'm up for third-grade humor, but jeez, guys. This woman probably feels totally violated. This is a far cry from funny.

That's what I said when I saw There's Something About Mary.
posted by katillathehun at 5:50 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also -- for the doubters -- why would the man have been arrested upon exiting the plane if there was nothing to the story?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:51 PM on March 17, 2008


I flew on American Airlines a few days ago, and encountered a sticky substance that the flight attendant called "coleslaw."

I have my suspicions.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 5:52 PM on March 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


If it is a bogus story, then obviously no one would have been arrested.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:52 PM on March 17, 2008


something here isn't adding up for me.

It was a night flight, taking off at 11pm & flying through the small hours.

I know from experience that 80% or more of passengers would've been asleep before the plane even reached cruising altitude. That's because I'm one of those who stays awake. Cabin lights off; only turned on 20min before landing - it would have been easy enough for this guy to get away with it if he was reasonably subtle & chose a seat adjacent to a bunch of flight-sleep-zombies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 PM on March 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I say ask the pilot to announce: "Would the gentleman in seat 21-C please stop masturbating?"

He'd hear the word "gentleman," think "That's obviously not directed at me," and go right on with what he was doing. I say they should flash a picture of Dick Cheney on his video monitor. If that doesn't stop him, nothing will.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 PM on March 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


yet our flight attendants and air marshals can't bother to protect a sleeping passenger?

My experience is also that the flight attendants typically go into hiding or sleep once the lights are out.

Seriously, if American is like any other airline in the world, there might have been one or two attendants "actively" on duty, which means "spending their time gossiping in whispers in the galley; surly & resentful of pesky passengers demanding their right to another measly thimbleful of free wine"

It's not like they patrol up & down all night with flashlights, or anything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:03 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I keep wondering why none of the flight attendants happened to walk along the aisle during all this... I've only been on daytime flights, but on those, the flight attendants are up and down the aisles constantly.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:16 PM on March 17, 2008


Can't she press charges (I am assuming she already has) as well as sue the guy who did it? Is it better to sue the guy as opposed to the airline? I mean who is more at fault?

I am not defending American Airlines as they should have done something to stop it (maybe paying attention to passengers moving about the cabin?), but there is no screening process protecting against "people with the potential to masturbate".

Also I am sure American Airlines has $200k where as Mr.JerkOff McGee does not.
posted by sir_rubixalot at 6:19 PM on March 17, 2008


You're kidding, right, elpapacito? How is changing seats to move in next to a sleeping woman and then masturbating to completion -- which, somehow (MAGICALLY, I suppose) ends up in her hair -- not a violation? And since when do you have to have full-on physical penetration to have something count as a sexual assault?

If it were intentional, it would certainly be an assault, but not a rape, as a matter of unwanted physical contact rather than intercourse.

Also -- for the doubters -- why would the man have been arrested upon exiting the plane if there was nothing to the story?

Not to be a stickler, but since when does an arrest constitute evidence of a particular crime?
This article doesn't even indicate what charges he was arrested on - it might well have been some variation of public indecency. Whipping it out (substitute colorful euphemisms here) in public is against the law, after all.

I posted it because here we are, in a country obsessed with taking away our nail clippers, knitting needles and more-than-3-ounces-of-fluid before boarding a plane, yet our flight attendants and air marshals can't bother to protect a sleeping passenger???

The absurdity is indisputable, but it depends what conclusions you want to draw from out of it. Are we going to argue, based on a single story that might be distorted or apocryphal, for even more fascist implementations of security in public spaces? Honestly, this whole thing is so scant on detail I'd hesitate to draw any conclusions about it at all.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:22 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it were intentional, it would certainly be an assault, but not a rape, as a matter of unwanted physical contact rather than intercourse.

No one said it was rape, kid ichorous. I was taking offense at el papacito's tone, which basically implied that if it wasn't rape, then no harm, no foul.

[quoted] jbickers writes "This woman probably feels totally violated. This is a far cry from funny"

[elpapacito] I missed the part in which she was raped? It doesn't see like the guy exploded on her wilfully, which could be seen as aggressive


So in other words, unless she was actually raped, it's ok? It doesn't seem like he did it willfully? When I read the original story out loud to my boyfriend and his best friend (MeFi kittens for breakfast), the first thing they both said was "HOW? Was he standing up? How did that work?" -- which to me sounds like it probably took a bit of effort to accomplish, assuming the basic facts of the story are solid.

Also, I don't see how hoping that flight attendants would keep some guy from jacking it into my hair while I sleep is wishing "for even more fascist implementations of security in public spaces."

Yours truly would have been a bit more violent with this ass had he done it to me...and sorry, fellow knitters, but with the limited sharp tools at our disposal on flights these days, I think I'd probably end up getting needles banned after all when I buried mine deep in his idiot lap. But not all women are as willing to stand up for themselves, and so we need to make sure their basic safety on something as ordinary as a flight is ensured.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:56 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Has American Airlines a history of preventing women breast feeding? I didn't pick that up from the link.
posted by mattoxic at 7:16 PM on March 17, 2008


Disgusting I hope she wins.
posted by bmilly at 7:21 PM on March 17, 2008


Here's a Fox Houston link that includes the womans name.
posted by puke & cry at 7:24 PM on March 17, 2008


Who put the fun in spaghetti?!!

Good point by b1tr0t, notwithstanding me being a terrible doubting Thomas, lately. If the LAWSUIT is so famous why the hell wasn't his CRIMINAL TRIAL?

The folks at fark.com (AHEM: fapped while she napped!) have a few doubters, too. And this hilarious, but relevant, pic.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:29 PM on March 17, 2008


Sorry, mattoxic, should have been more specific with my "they" in the second sentence (which was meant to encompass airlines in general) -- American's one of the better airlines, breastfeeding-wise. Compared to Delta, why, they're practically saints.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:29 PM on March 17, 2008


If I were a woman I'd be extra-vigilant for the next week or two. After all, things like this come in spurts.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


And to all the "why didn't an attendant / passenger notice?" crowd:

Seriously, if American is like any other airline in the world, there might have been one or two attendants "actively" on duty, which means "spending their time gossiping in whispers in the galley; surly & resentful of pesky passengers demanding their right to another measly thimbleful of free wine"

It's not like they patrol up & down all night with flashlights, or anything.


What UbuRoivas said^^^. And how many passengers would even be able to see this chap, and then what are the odds that they'd even be awake or paying attention?! And then multiply that by the fact that he would be able to be fairly discreet until the vinegar strokes and money shot. :)

Bloody hell, there's some seriously naive (I'd like to say "moronic" but I won't) people here.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2008


I really didn't want to bring this up but,
What really irritates ...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:01 PM on March 17 [1 favorite +] [!]

Eponysterical?
posted by liza at 7:43 PM on March 17, 2008


"Also -- for the doubters -- why would the man have been arrested upon exiting the plane if there was nothing to the story?"

If the article is fictitious then the arrest in the fictitious article would also be fictitious, so how does your statement prove anything?
posted by 517 at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2008


bitter-girl: Also, I don't see how hoping that flight attendants would keep some guy from jacking it into my hair while I sleep is wishing "for even more fascist implementations of security in public spaces."

Article: The woman accuses the flight staff of not properly vetting passengers to keep the cabin free of unsafe situations.

Yeah, if you're suggesting that the airlines need to prevent unpredictable, one-in-a-million events like this from taking place, you're most certainly asking for more of the same draconian, demeaning, and ultimately futile security measures. What's your solution, a sexual background screening for every male that boards a plane?

On the other hand, if you're suggesting that the staff could have dealt with the offense better post-facto, then maybe you have a point. However, since there's so little information in these articles, we have no clear idea of what exactly took placel, nor what the staff's response was, nor what grounds the lawsuit was filed on. To have a constructive discussion of all of this, instead of just getting outraged or having a snark, it would help if there were more details to work with.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I'm thinking Wendy's, toe, and chili. Just like you can claim just about anything happened, you can also sue for it. That doesn't necessarily mean it happened, though.
posted by yhbc at 7:52 PM on March 17, 2008


When I read the original story out loud to my boyfriend and his best friend (MeFi kittens for breakfast), the first thing they both said was "HOW? Was he standing up? How did that work?"

Your boyfriend & KFB (and others) might be interested to know that - just like girls - not all guys get off in exactly the same manner. Don't make too many assumptions about what areas are being stimulated, or how, or what muscles are or are not being used.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:06 PM on March 17, 2008


man... i just spent the day on a cross-country flight (on AA, as a matter of fact). i was, unfortunately, stuck next to a squirmy gentleman in the center seat, who repeatedly jabbed me in the breasts with his elbows. i am pretty sure it was unintentional - since the seats are so freakingly tiny and close together it's impossible not to come in contact with your neighbors, and from what i could tell he was jabbing the gentleman seated on the aisle, too. so i forgave him for that.

but when he started picking his nose, i mean - really digging up in there, then pulling his finger out and giving it a good look-over, then rolling the booger into a ball and flicking it, i just about lost it. dis-gus-ting!

then i read this post. i guess i didn't have it so bad, after all, eh?

yes, travel by air is HELL - because it is all "other people".
posted by lapolla at 8:10 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would deem it pretty obvious that this is unacceptable behaviour. I don't think anyone here thinks otherwise - and more importantly, I don't believe any AA employee worth their salt would believe otherwise either, for that matter.

I've read the article, and it does not anywhere indicate that flight crew was somehow unwilling to intervene, merely:

The woman began to cry and tried to get the attention of a flight attendant, but was unsuccessful, the suit states.

Also:

When the plane landed, employee called airport police and the man was arrested.

My point being, obviously this is a very bad thing and I believe whatever steps can be taken to prevent this from happening in the future must be taken, however:

"No problem!"?

I think it's pretty damn obvious that it's a problem. Nobody, nobody, as far as I can tell is so far suggesting that this is, somehow, not a problem.

So seriously, what's with the breast-feeding analogy? We can agree that this is a wholly different league, right? This kind of tone - while understandable - falls just on the wrong side of over-the-top editiorialising, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:27 PM on March 17, 2008


This whole thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth...
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:29 PM on March 17, 2008


But the lawsuit probably resulted in the passenger getting a load off her mind.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2008


I really thought that if and when this story ended up here, MetaFilter would be better than to snark about sexual assault along with the rest of the internets.

I really did.
posted by youarenothere at 8:44 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, in the article, it says that the flight attendants saw the guy move to the empty seat next to the sleeping (later victimized) woman. So I've been an air passenger almost literally all my life, and in my experience, passengers switch seats (assuming there are empty seats available, or someone wants to switch) at two points during the flight: first, during taxing (sometimes bleeding over into post-takeoff), when people are trading seats to get closer to loved ones or get a bit more space. Second, right as people are falling asleep, when passengers will move away from each other if they can to get more room to sleep. A passenger moving TOWARDS another, sleeping passenger at "nighttime" - that's a bit weird. Once someone claims their empty-seat space, you leave them alone, especially if they're already asleep!

"flight attendants said they saw the man change his seat" is a vague statement, but if they actually saw him move from one row to another, and he'd been sitting in the first row for most of the preceding flight, I don't think it's at all unreasonable for attendants to make their presence discreetly felt in that kind of situation. No fascism required. You don't need to go and accuse someone of being a sexual predator or anything. Just pause in your walk down the aisle and ask, "Can I get you anything, sir?" If the situation's not kosher, chances are you've derailed it because he knows he's being watched. If all is benign, you've delayed someone's nap by 30 seconds at the worst (or, maybe they need a glass of water). It just seems like good policy all around, and I don't think this is a frivolous lawsuit at all.
posted by bettafish at 8:54 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the timing, now, bringing it back up via a lawsuit it's like getting the load back on her mind.
posted by porpoise at 8:54 PM on March 17, 2008


bringing it back up via a lawsuit it's like getting the load back on her mind.

What's your alternative? Would you expect her to just lie down & take it? Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, say I.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2008


I really thought that if and when this story ended up here, MetaFilter would be better than to snark about sexual assault along with the rest of the internets.

On the positive side, at least nobody's made a joke about Snakes on a Plane yet.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:12 PM on March 17, 2008


Maybe her name was Eileen.
posted by aftermarketradio at 9:12 PM on March 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I really thought that if and when this story ended up here, MetaFilter would be better than to snark

People make jokes about everything. Literally everything. It's how a lot of people get through the day without crying. See also: gallows humor.
posted by Justinian at 9:15 PM on March 17, 2008


I found this sentence curious: "Finally a passenger in the row in front of the woman comforted her and verified the semen in her hair, the suit states." What, like, tasted it?
posted by binturong at 9:21 PM on March 17, 2008


If I were a woman I'd be extra-vigilant for the next week or two. After all, things like this come in spurts.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:35 PM on March 17


Winner.

Also, this either didn't happen, or there is so much more to the story that this article is useless.

I really thought that if and when this story ended up here, MetaFilter would be better than to snark

You do not know us at all.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:33 PM on March 17, 2008


Finally a passenger in the row in front of the woman comforted her and verified the semen in her hair, the suit states.

Ewww. I really don't want to know what qualifies that guy as a semen verifier, or what tests he conducted. As for the victim, if this really happened, her distress is understandable, but suing the airline is pathetic. This "story"s is so fact-free that almost anything is likely. But trying to hold the airline accountable for the action of some random pervert is just as reprehensible, in some ways. So called "security" when flying is ridiculous and laughable enough. The last frikken thing we need is flight attendants suddenly required to police every action, of every passenger, all the time. Any inherent sympathy for her is eliminated by her avaricious grasping for a monetary windfall, with the only probable result being yet further surveillance of travelers.

Weak reporting, weak case, weak person, weak post .
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:37 PM on March 17, 2008


So seriously, what's with the breast-feeding analogy? We can agree that this is a wholly different league, right? This kind of tone - while understandable - falls just on the wrong side of over-the-top editiorialising, as far as I'm concerned.

Not editorializing so much as an attempt at humor...albeit humor of the gallows-y kind. I find it disturbing that (all too frequently) in the country flight attendants think it's their business to keep breastfeeding mothers from discreetly nursing their children while something like this goes unnoticed and/or (depending on how which version of the story you read) un-acted-upon.

Your boyfriend & KFB (and others) might be interested to know that - just like girls - not all guys get off in exactly the same manner. Don't make too many assumptions about what areas are being stimulated, or how, or what muscles are or are not being used.

I think the point there was that even in the confines of tiny, cramped airline seats, it's tough to envision just how one would manage to make a deposit into her hair from 18" away and 24"-ish inches lower down. (Guesstimating on the actual measurements here based on flying American a few weeks ago). Not that this is a particular plate of beans I want to overthink...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:38 PM on March 17, 2008


I think the point there was that even in the confines of tiny, cramped airline seats, it's tough to envision just how one would manage to make a deposit into her hair from 18" away and 24"-ish inches lower down.

There had to be a second gunman!
posted by kid ichorous at 9:48 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


American's one of the better airlines, breastfeeding-wise.

I don't think we have the same definition of "better" but I digress...
posted by dhammond at 9:49 PM on March 17, 2008


"Finally a passenger in the row in front of the woman comforted her and verified the semen in her hair, the suit states." What, like, tasted it?

Haven't you watched CSI?

You spray some chemical around, wave around your UV flashlight, and *voila* - cumstains glow purple!

The passenger ahead must've been some kind of DHS agent.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:53 PM on March 17, 2008


Well, for example, dhammond. They're no Delta, at least.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:53 PM on March 17, 2008


it's tough to envision just how one would manage to make a deposit into her hair from 18" away and 24"-ish inches lower down.

Hm, the hypotenuse of that would be 30", or 2.5 feet. Difficult, but not impossible. The aim would be the difficult part, especially taking into account the fact that it would travel in a parabolic trajectory.

You also fail to take into account that airline seats recline, and people sprawl in all kinds of positions just to get a little shuteye.

*warning: here's a suggestion you really don't want to overthink*

Perhaps the alleged perpetrator scouted out his sleeping victim because she was sprawled in such a way that she was all foetus-like, with her head close to where his groin would have been...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:59 PM on March 17, 2008


It's official, we really have overthought this, UbuRoivas. Also, we all watch far too many crime investigation shows.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:09 PM on March 17, 2008


Maybe his foreskin was partially covering the urethra, leading to a redirected spray --- like when you put your finger on a water fountain spout. Maybe he had a backlog so there was a lot of pressure.

Maybe I have thought about this too much.
posted by Locative at 10:37 PM on March 17, 2008


You laugh now, but the TSA is at this very moment gearing up to confiscate said penises.

Come on. All you have to do is take it out, put it in the plastic bin, and prove that it works.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:41 PM on March 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


And I thought liquids had to be in ziploc baggies?
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:44 PM on March 17, 2008


I changed seats while reading this thread, and now...well, let's just say you might want to get some paper towels.
posted by davejay at 10:51 PM on March 17, 2008


Hm, the hypotenuse of that would be 30", or 2.5 feet. Difficult, but not impossible. The aim would be the difficult part, especially taking into account the fact that it would travel in a parabolic trajectory.

HA-HA! you said 'hypotenuse.'
posted by CitizenD at 11:07 PM on March 17, 2008


Maybe his hand just experienced some extremely localized turbulence.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:27 PM on March 17, 2008


Per the story, when the victim woke up, semen was in her hair and the man was masturbating, meaning he had ejaculated once, and was going for a second (or subsequent) round. Given recovery time, this was behavior that was ongoing for a substantial period of time. She woke up when the announcements were made regarding landing, a time immediately prior to which the flight attendants should have been making their final round through the cabin to get people awake and electronic devices turned off, etc. Coupled with their awareness of the seat change, this should've been a time when cabin crew noticed that something was off. This is probably the lynchpin of her negligence claim.

That said, why a presumption that the ejaculate ended up in her hair as a first stop? If he's sitting there using her as his wank fodder, why not complete the humiliation by using her as his kleenex, too? We can't really say that someone who is willing to do something like this would be somehow risk averse, so long as his activities fulfill his paraphilia.
posted by Dreama at 12:55 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Come on. All you have to do is take it out, put it in the plastic bin, and prove that it works.

Maybe that's what the guy on the plane was doing ...
posted by bwg at 1:58 AM on March 18, 2008


I'm surprised nobody's called this guy a hijacker yet.
posted by Eddie Devil at 5:07 AM on March 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Second, right as people are falling asleep, when passengers will move away from each other if they can to get more room to sleep. A passenger moving TOWARDS another, sleeping passenger at "nighttime" - that's a bit weird. Once someone claims their empty-seat space, you leave them alone, especially if they're already asleep!

Specious. I'm on one of these cross-country or transatlantics two or three times a month, usually with American. I don't sleep well on planes so I'm usually observing the crew and cabin activity all night... and I'm not the only one, there are usually at least a few other night owls that stay awake and watch the movie or Frasier re-runs or whatever. I've never felt like I couldn't get to or reach an attendant if I needed one.

People move at all times, for all sorts of reasons. A fairly common example that comes to my mind is a passenger who is in a middle seat on the middle block (on a 2-3-2 cabin, for example), but would relax better on an aisle, and so moves to one of the 2-blocks, where an aisle is open but a person was occupying the window. That seat-mover would be "moving TOWARDS another, sleeping passenger at 'nighttime'" for a totally legitimate reason.

Whether or not the guy wanked, whether or not the girl was assaulted... count me in the group who thinks this doesn't sniff right -- why are we just hearing about it now if it happened last year, and if there was a successful criminal case with merit? And why is she suing the airline? Call me cynical, but my answer is "because the litigious nature of US folks dictates that a sharp cookie goes for the deepest pocket."

She saw him masturbating but chose to do nothing until she found the "semen" in her hair? Then, she was "crying" but couldn't get the crew's attention? Again, doesn't pass. I would have been screaming my fool head off. Even if a person was loath to draw attention, she could have silently, simply pushed the attendant call button.

You can hear the whispery farts, Dutch-ovened under those prison-issue blankets, emitted by the grandma from Kenosha in the row behind you -- there is zero real privacy or quiet on those flights. But this girl was so distraught... she was the victim of an assault... and managed to alert exactly no one? No one else witnessed the event? Except for our phantom semen-verifier? So, the passenger in the next row could do an in-flight SANE exam but the girl couldn't punch her call-button? You could argue me that sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward... but I'm going to give that a chary eye when it means, "reluctant to come forward -- right up to the point where there's the potential of a huge corporate pay-off." Notice that she's not accusing AA of not responding to a call for help, but of not having prevented the situation in the first place.

Wevs. There's loads that AA does wrong, but I don't think that anyone should get into a wad over "failing to vet the person boarding any given flight that is mostly likely to ejaculate on another passenger" or "failing to respond to... what, again, exactly?"

Just not seemin' right to me.
posted by pineapple at 5:55 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What really irritates me is that at landing, the flight attendants are obsessed with getting you to take out of your iPod earbuds (even if it's not on), put the (usually broken) seat back into some mythic, unattainable position, and generally harass the living daylights out of you.......

It's *for your safety.* Takeoff and landing are the most hazardous regimes of flight and thus the ones most likely to require you to be able to hear and follow the directions of the flight attendants. Additionally, if your seatback is reclined, the people in the row behind you have their exit path blocked. The attendants' primary reason for being there and giving these directions is your safety, not your comfort.
posted by squorch at 6:10 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, this was an assault. How many men here would feel assaulted if this happened to them?
posted by agregoli at 6:24 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend & KFB (and others) might be interested to know that - just like girls - not all guys get off in exactly the same manner. Don't make too many assumptions about what areas are being stimulated, or how, or what muscles are or are not being used.

Well, look here, Sting, Master of the Tantric Arts. I mean, unless the guy is capable of shooting nut out of his ear, this isn't really addressing my...er...bone of contention, to wit: No, really...how did he get it in her hair? I'm afraid I gotta get kinda graphic here, but if he were in a normal seated position and his manly juices managed to grace her scalp, the guy's not only got some distance, but some precision...because I'm presuming the nut didn't touch her anywhere else. It doesn't sound like it did, and I'm pretty sure it would. The only thing that seems really plausible to me is that she slumped onto her side when she fell asleep and her head landed more or less in the guy's lap.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:28 AM on March 18, 2008


(On review, that he deliberately moved to be closer to her when he saw that she was asleep tells me she probably was slumped onto her side. But still. I'm not saying what he did was impossible, just that it would be pretty damn...you know...awkward.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:39 AM on March 18, 2008


Duh, squorch. I'm not saying they shouldn't do this at all, but as someone who flies a lot and witnesses (close to landing time which, if I remember correctly, is when this supposedly happened) what the attendants are up to at that time, if they didn't notice what was going on, that says to me they were deliberately NOT noticing. La la la la I can't see you!

And if that is what happened then the woman certainly has a case against the airline as well as the perv. How is it that I can get sued if someone slips and falls on my sidewalk, or if someone drinks too much at my party and plows into a tree, yet they can't get sued to failing to keep an adequate eye on passengers during flight? You'd think after the whole shoebomber incident and its subsequent fallout that they'd have an incentive to at least pretend to give a shit what's happening back in coach.

agregoli is right -- if this happened to a man on the flight, it'd be front-page news. But assaults against women are not high on our priority list. After all, she asked for it by falling asleep and letting her guard down, right? [sarcasm, in case you didn't notice]
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:55 AM on March 18, 2008


liza writes "I really didn't want to bring this up but,

"
What really irritates ...
"posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:01 PM on March 17 [1 favorite +] [!]
"
"


"Eponysterical?"


I'm gonna have to say no on this one...
posted by Eponysterical Police at 7:29 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


pineapple, evidently we disagree about late-night passenger behavior and etiquette, but in any case, she didn't notice he was wanking until she had semen in her hair because ... she was asleep. It's right there in the article. And perhaps she didn't maintain her perfect cool and summon the attendants in the most perfect way possible, but she HAD SEMEN IN HER HAIR. Jeez louise.
posted by bettafish at 7:33 AM on March 18, 2008


If someone's behaviour was changed by having semen in their hair, I can't imagine it being in a way that was more 'calm and logical as pressing the attendant button' rather than 'making a load of row on a plane full of sleeping people and getting hysterical'.

She couldn't have 'failed to attract a steward' if she didn't press the button. If she didn't do that, she must have just sat there, which is more 'did nothing' rather than 'failed to attract...'.

It still doesn't ring true to me. I think it's made up.
posted by Brockles at 8:16 AM on March 18, 2008


I find it curious that so many guys here cannot believe this is true. Obviously it's an outrageous story, but why on earth would someone make THIS up? Other passengers saw this, there are witnesses. I'm not understanding the disbelief.
posted by agregoli at 8:22 AM on March 18, 2008


if this happened to a man on the flight, it'd be front-page news. But assaults against women are not high on our priority list.

Oh, give us a break. I suppose, for your next trick, you're going to tell us that assaults on children aren't given sufficient public mindshare. Should we expect to see some figures on violent crime statistics versus media coverage to bolster this ridiculous claim, or are you just trolling? There are numerous national organizations, media advocates, watchdog groups, etc, for whom assaults against women is the priority list.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:25 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obviously a fan of The Judybats' "All I Wanna Do is Fuck Your Hair."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:26 AM on March 18, 2008


I'm not saying, necessarily, that she made it up. I think it is possible that someone else did - ie the whole piece, rather than the assault, is made up.

However:

but why on earth would someone make THIS up?


Er. "A 21-year-old Harris County woman filed a $200,000 lawsuit against American Airlines"....

Still not sure why anyone might make this up?
posted by Brockles at 8:30 AM on March 18, 2008


Well, honestly? I think this WOULD be front-page news if it had happened to a man. The fact that it was even questioned as BEING an assault here is very telling.
posted by agregoli at 8:30 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brockles - yes.
posted by agregoli at 8:31 AM on March 18, 2008


Let me help you out again. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR LAW SUIT.

I think this WOULD be front-page news if it had happened to a man..

I think it would also be front page news if it were true.
posted by Brockles at 8:33 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that it was even questioned as BEING an assault here is very telling.

Yes. Of the one person that questioned if this action would be considered assault. Pretty much every other questioning was of the validity of the story, not the severity of the action detailed within.

I think you are trying to create and exaggerate some 'Oppressing of the Sisters" angle, when more fundamental questions are being asked.
posted by Brockles at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2008


bettafish said: "in any case, she didn't notice he was wanking until she had semen in her hair because ... she was asleep. It's right there in the article."

Yes, it is "right there in the article." Here, I'll show you:
When the woman opened her eyes, she saw that an unknown man had moved into the seat next to her and was staring at her as he masturbated, the suit states.

The woman turned toward the window in embarrassment and in an act of nervousness began to run her fingers through her hair where she noticed “a substantial amount of an extremely sticky substance in her hair,” the suit states.

The woman began to cry and tried to get the attention of a flight attendant, but was unsuccessful, the suit states. Finally a passenger in the row in front of the woman comforted her and verified the semen in her hair, the suit states.
She saw him, she turned toward the window and tried to ignore him. Subsequently, she discovered the semen, and then helpfully, Passenger in Front did a quick semen-check.

She wasn't asleep while she was also seeing him masturbate and then intentionally ignoring him. That's the point at which I'm alleging that, other than the choice to "cry until attracting the attention of Semen Checker," a person whose concern was for her own safety in that moment would have maybe pushed her call-button or made some sort of call out or done something, anything else, that created a witness situation here. In this story there's the Midnight Wanker, there's Something About Mary and there's the Helpful Semen-Checker, and that's it -- where are the legion of other witnesses who would have been seated right around these three actors if there had actually been enough of an incident to warrant a jury trial?

Of course there's a lot we don't know. I'm just saying that none of it adds up.
posted by pineapple at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2008


Well, honestly? I think this WOULD be front-page news if it had happened to a man. The fact that it was even questioned as BEING an assault here is very telling.

Front page in what, National Enquirer? You think the front page of the New York Times would ever read "AA Passenger gets Semen in Hair. Patriarchy Officially Horrified. Iraq bumped to p. 10."

That the events of the case are being questioned, I think, is a function of the lack of information available in the article and the press at large. It's also a fairly bizarre story.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Brockles, I'm not sure why you're painting me as hysterically creating this into some sort of feminist brou-ha-ha, but I've not said anything that would indicate such a painting, to my knowledge.

I am always skeptical when someone claims that a person is making up a humiliating and disgusting sexual assault for money. It has happened, of course, but I just don't find it likely. That, combined with the fact that there were witnesses to this - well, I don't see it as being very likely that it is a made-up story at all. Your take obviously differs from mine, but since we don't know the truth either way, both viewpoints are equally valid.
posted by agregoli at 8:47 AM on March 18, 2008


(Alright, I guess my comments about the nature of assault and the importance placed on this event regarding male/female gender would be considered part of a feminist reading - but I see that more as truth about our society than a huge feminist statement. I don't dare to make any exploration of feminist thought on the assault issue here, because, while it's interesting, Metafilter won't discuss that well).
posted by agregoli at 8:49 AM on March 18, 2008


How did it get in her hair? Was she sleeping in his lap or is he, in fact, Peter North?

And why, if he already came, was he still masturbating when she came to?

--

I think this story is beyond horrible, but there are just so many weird things about it, that I can't help questioning it.
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:50 AM on March 18, 2008


I am always skeptical when someone claims that a person is making up a humiliating and disgusting sexual assault for money.

As am I. Not to make light of it, but a comment about this story somewhere said "what if these two were accomplices and planned to split the proceeds of the lawsuit"? The reply? "Yes, but the man is then forever known as the One Who Jacked It On A Plane."

Remember Carl Monday and the library wanker? I can't think of anyone in their right mind who would think this was a good idea in terms of cashing in when the ol' toe-in-the-chili is much less personally embarrassing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:54 AM on March 18, 2008


any AA employee worth their salt...

I don't think that anyone should get into a wad over "failing to vet the person...

OK. Were they pun intended? Surely the second one*?

Ejaculate can be a verb and a noun. I've always thought that was cool.

eg. You can urinate in your ejaculate, but you can't ejaculate in your urinate. I dips me lid to Dreama for using the noun form.

Those asking "How? Why?" This has all the hallmarks of a guy high on meth, in my opinion.

/*and stop calling me Shirley.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:52 AM on March 18, 2008


Jeez, uncanny, in my last two paragraphs you only spotted that one?
posted by pineapple at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2008




Bugger. How could I be so blind, pineapple?!

And double bugger. My doubting might be all for naught. Haven't clicked on any of Locative's linkies, but if there's more than one source, maybe it is true? Maybe the news services just missed it the first two times around (arrest, trial)? Although...... it wouldn't be the first time the news media have fallen for a dud story.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2008


Question for lawyers (or anyone who knows): why is there a section of the complaint entitled "Prayer"?
posted by Danila at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2008


What I don't get is why the crappy Startle-gram's airline blog is just now reporting something that actually happened over two years ago, and was well covered in the Houston news last year.

I also see patently contradicting stories from the plaintiff/victim, in these different articles. She did summon help, but they did nothing. She didn't summon help because she was too terrified. She tried to summon help, and failed, but thank God there was a nice man in front of her who said, "Yep, that's semen."

And this case is going to get tossed, because no judge is going to say that it's reasonable to expect that AA is going to be able to provide the staff or the coverage to be monitoring every single passenger's activities, every minute of the flight. How many minutes does it take to masturbate to ejaculation, for a motivated wanker?

The guy was arrested in LA. I don't know the outcome of that arrest, but the police took her statement, and collected evidence from the woman's hair. It was a criminal act, and it was handled criminally. Going after AA is just litigious and opportunistic, IMO. Bad people do bad things sometimes, and there's not always going to be a way to Make Someone Pay that feels commensurate with the experience.
posted by pineapple at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2008


Question for lawyers (or anyone who knows): why is there a section of the complaint entitled "Prayer"?

Prayer - [prair] noun, a petition; entreaty; a fervent request; the thing requested; the request of a complainant, as stated in a complaint or in equity, that the court grant the aid or relief solicited; the section of the complaint or bill that contains this request.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2008


Not editorializing so much as an attempt at humor...albeit humor of the gallows-y kind.

Fair enough, then. Thanks for replying, bitter-girl.com.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:13 AM on March 18, 2008


Still, I'd rather have a suspicious mind that swallow every load of light-on-facts bumph tossed up via a blog. :)

Apologies to bitter-girl.com and the other ladies here. What goodnewsfortheinsane and others alluded to: I wasn't suggesting it wasn't something she should have just accepted, despite being so disbelieving and flippant. Gallows humour and all that.

I think this whole sordid saga can be summed up by a three word comment in the original thread.

Men are pigs.

FWIW, if a guy jacked on me as I woke up I'd be like "Wah...? Dude... Wah the fah...? Duuuuuuuuuude!!! Why?!" There would be no violence apart from pushing him out of range. No shit.

/But I'm a very strange man. Psycho fella started belting crap out of me in a nightclub once, FOR NO REASON. On the freaken dance floor. I hardly even raised my hands to protect myself, let alone punch-on. Bouncers came and extricated him quick enough anyway. My friends still remind me of that story with awe on their faces. Erm, enough about me. What do YOU GUYS think about me?

//Triple play in once sentence, pineapple. Beat that!

posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2008


"more-than-3-ounces-of-fluid before boarding a plane,"

Or 10cc?

Even with reading the complaint, this story is pretty thin. And all the thread-modding from Bitter Girl didn't help, frankly.
posted by klangklangston at 11:40 AM on March 18, 2008


Or 10cc?

"Be quiet, big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry."
posted by ericb at 11:46 AM on March 18, 2008


The fact that it was even questioned as BEING an assault here is very telling.
posted by agregoli at 10:30 AM on March 18


I've not seen anyone question that it is an assault, except for el papacito, and that could possibly be a language issue.

Most people are questioning either the veracity of the entire story , or questioning the veracity of the claims of the victim. Many others question her motives in suing the airline, and not just the perp. I also immediately thought like someone above "if this is at all true, then they were in on it together".

To be very clear, yes, if someone ejaculated on someone else without their consent, then it would be some sort of assault (actually, if the semen contacted her it would then be battery).

However, I'm not sure if it is actually sexual assault, considering there was no sexual activity on the part of the victim. In other words, semen is an odd thing to deposit in someone's hair, but from a practical standpoint it would be the same as spit or blood or earwax or feces being put in the hair.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2008


And all the thread-modding from Bitter Girl didn't help, frankly.

I'm terribly sorry, klangklangston, but I posted the link because I found the story (and then, everyone's subsequent reactions to it) interesting. Next time I'll post something and then run screaming in the other direction, never to darken the post-doorstep again.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:28 PM on March 18, 2008


Well, honestly? I think this WOULD be front-page news if it had happened to a man. The fact that it was even questioned as BEING an assault here is very telling.

If you can give me one example remotely close to this where a story about someone ejaculating on a man against his will made the front page, I'll believe you.

You must have something besides your speculation to back a claim like this up. Educate me about how assaults from man to man are better reported than those from a man to a woman.
posted by scabrous at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2008


"I'm terribly sorry, klangklangston, but I posted the link because I found the story (and then, everyone's subsequent reactions to it) interesting. Next time I'll post something and then run screaming in the other direction, never to darken the post-doorstep again."

Yes, that's why you posted it. You then commented again and again because you wanted everyone to share your same outrage, and attempted wan sarcasm when you didn't get your way.

Without your endless flogging, this one-link newsfilter story would have slid off the front page like jizz dripping from the hair of a sleeping Metafilter.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2008


Well, honestly? I think this WOULD be front-page news if it had happened to a man.

Google news headlines for violence against women" (3,138 hits)

Google news headlines for violence against men (7 hits)

Google news headlines for women's rights (2,944 hits)

Googles news headlines for men's rights (19 hits)
posted by Law Talkin' Guy at 1:58 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why all the insistance that my personal feelings on what kind of news item this would be if it happened to a man are wrong.

I would also consider this a sexual assault. Someone did something sexual to another person without their consent. That qualifies in my book.

Apparantly, something in this story has struck a nerve with Metafilter, and I'm feeling pretty uneasy at all the pushback here. Declining to comment further, as this is starting to feel ugly.
posted by agregoli at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2008


I think this whole sordid saga can be summed up by a three word comment in the original thread.

Men are pigs.


No, that's broad-brush sexist shit. That particular man was a pig.

Nobody would put up with - let alone endorse - a statement like "all women are bitches".

As a masculist, I am offended by that kind of shit & ask you to retract it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


And how much time would such an act really take? One has to consider the fact that it was in public, degrading to the girl, and illicit as shit, not to mention the general thrill of flying. These things could considerably up the kink factor. I would think that this would make the kind of guy who would expose himself pretty hot, and also considering that one dude in Kinsey that could yank it ten seconds, maybe it wouldn't take very long at all, thus reducing the open window of time in which he could have been found and "apprehended" by others.
posted by thebellafonte at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2008


Unfortunately most people's "books" do not get to determine what does or doesn't qualify as sexual assault. The judge's books does.
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2008


I would also consider this a sexual assault. Someone did something sexual to another person without their consent. That qualifies in my book.

I'll look up the statute when I have time, but I have a 95% hunch that this wouldn't qualify as sexual assault, at least not in Australia. Indecent exposure or some kind of public order offence perhaps; but sexual assault - from memory - usually requires bodily contact at the very least, and normally has to involve some kind of penetration, except in the case of forced cunnilingus.

Speaking strictly legally here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:41 PM on March 18, 2008


agregoli said: "I find it curious that so many guys here cannot believe this is true.

I would also consider this a sexual assault. Someone did something sexual to another person without their consent. That qualifies in my book.

Apparantly, something in this story has struck a nerve with Metafilter, and I'm feeling pretty uneasy at all the pushback here. Declining to comment further, as this is starting to feel ugly.
"

agregoli, I do also consider this a sexual assault. Something not too different happened to me a few years ago (although the masturbator was on my front porch, not as close as plane seatmate. They did send a CSI team out to scrape his "deposit" off the porch though.), and it was considered a sex crime, called "public lewdness." And it made me feel scared, and violated, and afraid to be home alone in my own house for a time. And it's one reason I can absolutely question why the woman's first response was to sit quietly and turn away from the man, without so much as a peep -- because when it happened to me, in that immediate moment, I was chemically, instinctively, uncontrollably in fear for the safety of my being, and I could not have voluntarily controlled my reaction of "getthisfreakawayfrommeatallcostsRIGHTFUCKINGNOW!!!!" I can only imagine it would have been even more magnified had the proximity been similar. (Although I realize that everyone responds differently to fear and adrenaline.)

But, I didn't sue the police for not having prevented the guy from being on my property. I didn't sue my neighbors for not having been monitoring my lawn in order to alert me that there was a peeping tom trying to get in my house. I accepted that there were some things and situations that were reasonably beyond the control of me or those who had responsibility for me, and I didn't look at where I could benefit from the blame game.

My original skepticism was not "is that really considered an assault?" but "did the story happen?" Lots of people here noted the scant availability of news on the story, at first.

Then, once I ascertained to my satisfaction that it did happen, my skepticism was around the victim's motivation for going after American Airlines. I take a very dim view of people trying to earn cash (in this case, the plaintiff asked for $750,000) off of arguably innocent third parties in situations like this one.

But I don't agree that just because not everyone agrees with you and sees this situation exactly as you do that you're the target of weird creepy boyzone same-ol-MeFi pushback, or that MetaFilter has some reluctant need to protect the offender or slander the victim in the AA case. That seems to be what you're alluding to, and that seems to me a disservice to the community. If this is going to be the kinder, gentler, more-feminism-aware MeFi, there still has to be room for discussion and differences of opinion. We won't get ahead with a tack of "everyone who doesn't think like the most feminist poster on the thread is automatically an offensive chauvinist."

(not saying that you are 'the most feminist poster on the thread', just that your position is reading to me as sort of laying down of gauntlets, and I'm not sure it's helping here.)

But, I'll be the change I wish to see in the world: I apologize to anyone who thought my semen puns were tacky or inappropriate, and I apologize for thinking the other ones in the thread were funny if in fact this is the sort of thing that causes posters discomfort. I also apologize if I worded my skepticism in a way that made it seem like my goal was to blame the victim for the assault.
posted by pineapple at 2:55 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, look here, Sting, Master of the Tantric Arts

Whatever we might argue about, at least we can agree that Sting is indeed the Greatest Wanker in History.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can think of a really simple reason she might have turned away first, then called for help when another passenger came to her aid - if she'd been a previous victim of abuse, her trained response might be to act as though nothing was happening and hope it would all go away, until somebody else validated her (appropriate!) distress. There are probably many others. People do react differently to trauma, and sexual assault definitely qualifies as trauma.

And pineapple, I read that description as, "She woke up, saw him masturbating, turned away so as not to look, started to touch her hair nervously, and in that moment felt semen." As in, it all happened as she was waking up. Perhaps you read the passage differently. I suppose that reflects how unclear the original link is.

I'm sorry something similar happened to you, and I hope they, er, nailed the perpetrator. As it were.

I think I'm done here, anyway.
posted by bettafish at 3:06 PM on March 18, 2008


I'm not sure why all the insistance that my personal feelings on what kind of news item this would be if it happened to a man are wrong

Because you have nothing with which to back those feelings up with and what crude method of measurement we do have (personal anecdotes, experience with news media, google news, actually seem to suggest the exact opposite.

Apparantly, something in this story has struck a nerve with Metafilter, and I'm feeling pretty uneasy at all the pushback here. Declining to comment further, as this is starting to feel ugly

And i think that is a really low tactic.

You made a point which you can't support and others have (partially) debunked and now you are calling this boyzone bullshit which has caused a whole lot of stink recently to obscure your backing away.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2008


Oh for Pete's sake, I've read through the thread again and I don't think anybody's attacking your person, agregoli. A few commenters are just challenging some of your points.

On the converse, it does seem like you've made a few unfair characterizations of the people here - that Metafilter "won't discuss (a Feminist reading) well" (why?), that skepticism of this story is "very telling" (of what?), and, now, that the discussion is of bad faith, an "ugly" backlash against a "struck nerve." Am I reading you incorrectly? If not, how else should we have talked about this? Should we just accept stories and declaratives at face value, and agree or keep mum, wherever certain topics are concerned?

(And, if anything about the original story strikes a nerve in me, it is that it tantalizingly broaches a number of topics without providing anything reliable or substantial to anchor to in any of them. I think that, more than anything else, makes it hard to draw conclusions from it.)
posted by kid ichorous at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apparantly, something in this story has struck a nerve with Metafilter, and I'm feeling pretty uneasy at all the pushback here. Declining to comment further, as this is starting to feel ugly.

You know, I'd love it if everyone on Metafilter came to possess the exact same feelings and opinions as I do on every issue. But in the absence of that happening I propose that neither of us equate "not everyone fully agrees with my feelings on this issue" with "Ah! Now we see the violence inherent in the system!".

I'll go first: Okay, now when people disagree with me I'll chalk it up to disagreeing in good faith instead of repressing me. Your turn!
posted by Justinian at 3:40 PM on March 18, 2008


Speak for yourself.

Personally, I agree with everything everybody writes here, including your point above.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 PM on March 18, 2008


"I'm not sure why all the insistance that my personal feelings on what kind of news item this would be if it happened to a man are wrong."

Um. Because I've both worked in and read a lot of news? Because almost all of the criticisms of media based on insufficient coverage, and I want to make it clear that I'm not just talking about this, are blinkered? Because, were this a man who got spooged, it would most definitely not make the front page anywhere except a podunk local paper? And claiming it would have shows a remarkable inexperience with newspapers and how they're budgeted and put together?
posted by klangklangston at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2008


NSW Crimes Act, FWIW (yes, I realise this was in a different jurisdiction; this may be of interest because it's not unlikely that similar offences elsewhere are comprised of similar elements):

61I Sexual assault

Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

61H Definition of “sexual intercourse” and other terms

(1) For the purposes of this Division, "sexual intercourse" means:
- (a) sexual connection occasioned by the penetration to any extent of the genitalia (including a surgically constructed vagina) of a female person or the anus of any person by:
-- (i) any part of the body of another person, or
-- (ii) any object manipulated by another person,
except where the penetration is carried out for proper medical purposes, or

- (b) sexual connection occasioned by the introduction of any part of the penis of a person into the mouth of another person, or
- (c) cunnilingus, or
- (d) the continuation of sexual intercourse as defined in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:35 PM on March 18, 2008


"NSW Crimes Act,"

More like NSFW Crimes Act, amirite?
posted by klangklangston at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2008


DirtyCreature - seriously, mate, your post boiled down to this:

"Aussies complain about Japanese whaling, but they kill dingoes & kangaroos. Therefore, they are hypocrites, and probably racist, amirite?"

That really reeks of bloggish axe-grinding, and isn't a particularly well thought-out argument.

For a start, native animals are typically culled because they threaten crops and / or livestock (in the kangaroos' case, by competing for scarce food). The closest analogy in the sea would be if schools of sharks were seriously harming fishers' interests by eating all the fish, or if some kind of well-adapted & tasty fish were crowding out all the others, whereby you'd catch the tasty fish & eat them instead.

There are probably all kinds of interesting & informative posts one could make about the eco-politics of culling animals, but they wouldn't have anything at all to do with whaling, and playing the racist hypocrisy card on top of a spurious comparison between whales & Australian native animals didn't help much.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2008


*damn, wrong thread*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2008


More like NSFW Crimes Act, amirite?

Yep - New South Fucking Wales, mate!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I missed the part in which she was raped? It doesn't see like the guy exploded on her wilfully, which could be seen as aggressive, but regardless, jerking off is still socially unacceptable in public.
posted by elpapacito at 5:41 PM on March 17


That's fucking disgusting/you're fucking disgusting. Your culture is an abomination.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:22 PM on March 18, 2008



I'm not sure why all the insistance that my personal feelings on what kind of news item this would be if it happened to a man are wrong.

I would also consider this a sexual assault. Someone did something sexual to another person without their consent. That qualifies in my book.

Apparantly, something in this story has struck a nerve with Metafilter, and I'm feeling pretty uneasy at all the pushback here. Declining to comment further, as this is starting to feel ugly.


I insist that your personal feelings are wrong because you've done absolutely nothing to back it up. You make a broad inflammatory claim and offer no backing for it. You've done a poor job arguing your point and, given the nature of the site, you're going to receive some flak for that.
posted by scabrous at 7:20 PM on March 18, 2008


God, Ubu, you're being unecessarily pedantic here. It may not be a sexual assault but it is certainly an act of indecency (s. 61N), in the same bloody section as rape and sexual assault and just as much an offence. Indecency is defined in NSW as "whether the right minded person would consider the conduct indecent" and this certainly qualifies. And you can't speak of Australian criminal law unless you're talking about kiddie porn or people smuggling or bribing foreign officials or the labelling of plastic explosive.

Anyway, a number of men I've heard discussing this (including in this thread) have brought up the issue of intent, and...GUYS IT IS NEVER OKAY TO SIT DOWN NEXT TO A STRANGE WOMAN AND RUB ONE OUT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR INTENT. This is true, independent of this story.
posted by goo at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2008


I am being pedantic, but I don't think it's unnecessary.

I've known enough women who were survivors of sexual assault in the usual sense - ie violent rape - to draw a distinction between this indefensible & icky act & 'real' sexual assault.

However gross it would be to wake up & find some guy masturbating next to you, and to find semen in your hair, I doubt this woman will need to go through years of therapy to partially overcome her panic attacks, nightmares & newly-acquired agoraphobia.

Indecency sounds about right. That's what a flasher would be charged with, and this alleged offence reads a bit like 'aggravated' flashing to me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:32 PM on March 19, 2008


Hmmm, well, it's kind of the difference between seeing someone piss and being pissed on, one is exponentially more disgusting, but I agree with your point.
posted by goo at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2008


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