UPDATE: The old man has since been arrested for causing public nuisance and voluntarily causing hurt.
Homosexual or heterosexual; queer or bicurious — sexual assault is still sexual assault and this viral incident on the MRT gives a pretty clear cut view on who’s in the wrong.
A young American expat recently had a horrific brush with a particularly hostile old man on the train, who loudly demanded that he have sex with him.
Not that it matters, but the American is, in fact, straight — but admits that he often gets mistaken as being queer, apparently because he doesn’t “fit the ‘masculine’ mold of society”.
In any case, the old man — who was said to be in a drunken state — urged the American guy to have sex with him. Despite the American’s denial and refusal, the belligerent stranger kept insisting that he was indeed gay and that he had given off “signals”.
Things went up a notch when the old man started behaving more violently, claiming something about Singapore having no law (Spoiler alert: There are a lot of laws here). When other commuters stepped in to intervene, the old man’s excuse for his behavior was that he was gay.
The incident escalated even further when the old man demanded to kiss the American, to which the young man replied that he would “punch his fucking face off”. That seemed to trigger the old man, who then slapped him for using a “vulgar word”.
Fortunately, another commuter came to the young man’s aid by stepping in between them both. According to the American, him and his friend got off at their stop with the old man in pursuit, but they managed to get away.
The incident disturbed the American greatly, judging from his account on Facebook. If you can’t see the text, we’ve replicated it here below:
“Hey Singapore friends: just a heads up, this guy physically assaulted me on the MRT, so if you ever see him, be on your guard. I was with a friend and he approached me–drunk–and said he was gay, and that he wanted to fuck me. He said, “I know you’re gay, so let’s fuck.”
This went on for several minutes and I tried to politely diffuse the situation, but then he began to yell at my friend when she intervened; I wouldn’t let this stand, and started to become angry myself. He threatened her, and some other people on the train intervened (several were filming). He touched me, and I told him not to, and I briefly lost my temper–after that he slapped me on the side of the head. He kept going on and on, and when a woman tried to take his picture, he attempted to kick her phone out of her hand. When my friend and I got off at our stop, he got off as well, but we managed to evade him and leave the station without him following us.
For those of you that don’t know: I’m not gay (not that it should matter). However, I don’t exactly fit the “masculine” mold of society, so oftentimes I am mistaken as queer–on several occasions around the world, for example, I’ve caught flak for carrying a “man purse.” On a personal level, this is why I need feminism: so I can be confident in myself and not feel like I have to fulfill any gender role assigned to me. However, I do appreciate that women probably have to deal with this shit (or at least the threat of it) on a fairly regular basis.
For those asking “Why didn’t you fight back or call the police?” I say, “I am a white immigrant in a country where I do not have citizenship and am a minority–law enforcement may not take my side, despite video and photo evidence.” This is something I learned while living in South Korea, where no amount of assimilation will protect you when a Korean is arguing against you. In this situation, there’s a chance I would’ve been accused of inciting violence, and been charged accordingly.
I feel pretty awful about this–it’s after 2:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep; I can’t even bring myself to watch the video. Is that normal? In a sick sense, I feel lucky to have this recorded: it’s proof! And others have recorded it as well! Some people would die for that kind of evidence!
Yet here I am, too embarrassed and too ashamed to watch it.
A slap on the head is nothing, really, but I feel completely unsettled–Singapore has been a trial by fire since my first day, and this doesn’t help. In all honesty, I’m a bit tipsy and have no idea what I’m feeling.
I wish I’d said thank you to the train people who took a stand and put themselves between me and this man, but I was too rattled to muster it (at least I could thank my friend, who had the good sense to make a video). I wish I’d sat in a different train car, and the whole situation could’ve been avoided. Was it the V-neck I was wearing? My ripped skinny jeans? I probably should have held my temper, but that’s not my character. Could I have found a way to peacefully diffuse the whole situation? It’s obviously not my fault but, somehow, a part of me is convinced it was.
Anyway, I have work in the morning, so the only thing to do is press on (or at least try to get some sleep). I’ve accomplished more in a few years than I could’ve ever imagined, and I’ve met so many amazing and supportive people along the way–I can’t really let the few bastards of the world stop me, can I?”