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No more groping - for now

Illustration by Marco Mancini

The headline from The Japan Times of Feb 23 read "Keio to Fight Groping By Introducing Women-Only Rail Cars," but I question if these cars are fighting anything at all. According to a 199-person survey conducted by The Japan Times, 82 percent of the female respondents supported the segregated cars. In my own mini-survey, I found that many (although certainly not all) gaijin men have also offered their wholehearted advocacy of this policy while relaying empathetic stories of how their girlfriends and wives have been harassed. I myself have been the victim of outrageously lewd conduct on the trains, and I could not be more against a female-only rail car.

In removing women from the train, this new policy is implying the removal of the actual problem. If only those women were not so tempting to the drunk business men who just can't control themselves in such close quarters. Moreover, those women who come racing to the train to avoid missing it and just manage to sneak into a coed train car are obviously not bothered by a little harmless groping, right? I mean, they could have, or even should have, easily waited for the next train to be hoarded into their own cars and transported safely to the shelters of their own homes.

It enrages me that this policy toward women is being seen as progress in political policy toward women, when clearly such acts are doing nothing to reprimand the offenders of train harassment. Yes, I accede, the new policy offers recognition of a very severe problem, but this solution evades the problem rather than confronting it. Consequences of offensive actions will not be heightened. If anything, the men have triumphed; they are left on the train to watch the women walk shamefully past into their own cars. The women are defeated and they are retreating. Meanwhile, the rest of the train has become an enter-at-your-own-risk atmosphere.

The policy seems backward to me. On the playground when one child pushes another, it is the first child (the aggressor) that is sent to the corner for a time-out. In a sports game when one player fouls another, again it is the aggressor who gets called to the sideline. Why in this case is it the women who are forced to modify their behavior? While I would not be so audacious as to berate women who chose to ride on this segregated car, I sincerely hope that people stop viewing the policy as progressive and see it for what it really is.

I beseech thee, the reader, to recognize the segregated car policy as nothing more than a symptomatic suppressor. It is an allergy pill. While you may be able to breathe easy while you are in that single-sex car, you know full well that the pollen and bacteria are lurking closely behind just waiting to remind you that they are not gone and will surely return for the morning commute.

Many thanks to Alexis Silver for this Rave.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249