A journalist saw a teen girl being harassed by a man on a plane — and did something about it
While women face harassment from men just about everywhere, the scariest moments come when men corner us in places where we can’t get away from them. Being harassed on the street sucks, don’t get me wrong. But being harassed by your Uber driver or by a guy in an elevator is much scarier, because you have no way to escape. That’s what makes this viral Twitter thread about a man harassing a teen girl on a plane so unsettling — not only did the jerk target someone inappropriately young, but he did it in a place where she couldn’t really get away from him.
Journalist Joanna Chiu was on the flight and ready to go to sleep when she noticed the harassment happening in the row behind her.
Chiu wrote about how the man, who was obviously much, much older than the teen seated next to him, engaged her in what seemed to be innocent conversation, but that it quickly took a turn.
At this point, Chiu and the woman seated in the row behind the girl both stepped in to make sure she was OK. Flight attendants were notified about what was going on, and the man was asked to change seats, on a plane where people had entire rows to themselves, so clearly there was room to seat him comfortably elsewhere. Yet he tried to refuse, which just shows how nefarious his intentions really were.
But what struck Chiu about this is that only women seemed to be paying attention and speaking up to help the teen. She said men seated nearby seemed not to notice, or not to care to get involved. It just goes to show how important it is that women look out for one another, because we absolutely notice when these things happen.
This story had a happy ending: Security officers were waiting for the man after the flight, and Chiu vowed to reach out to his company about his behavior. Here’s hoping he faces some consequences for how he acted, because it was predatory and deeply disgusting.
But this incident is far from isolated. This kind of thing happens all the damn time. I distinctly remember the first time I flew by myself. I was having what felt like a pleasant chat with the guy in the seat next to me, who was probably in his early 30s. When the drink cart came by, he wanted to buy me wine, and kept pressuring when I said no. I was 14.
And that’s just harassment that happens on planes. Men behave this way in other environments, too — everywhere women exist, in fact. The root of the issue is that men see our very existence as an invitation to make advances, whether we want them or not. That’s what needs to change. Women need to be free to exist in public places without being constantly harassed by men.
Hopefully this thread helps bring some awareness to people (men) who might not know how damaging and far-reaching this gross behavior can be. In the meantime, women will continue to look out for one another, just like they did in this case.
This article was originally published on