This sort of thing has happened so many times that I almost
barely register it anymore. Since this project was announced until now I have
been trying to remember a specific incident, because so many of them blur into
one. When I’m trying to get through a crowd and get the glancing caress because
my hands are occupied by my crutches to when I’ve been patted on the shoulder
and sometimes head by some well meaning older person (I’m 5 foot 10, it’s not
an easy feat for them).
My best examples though both come from buses.
-A car parked badly meant that a bus had to stop away from the raised curb, and as I was supporting myself up the now large step an older man behind me touched my rear to “boost” me up the step, with no previous indication that I needed any help. I was wearing a rucksack too, so it wasn’t an easy reach. When I looked around in shock and moved away he stopped, but I was at the front of a bus and felt like saying anything would hold everyone up.
-I had just got on the bus and was sitting down, taking off my rucksack at the same time. Then a woman grabbed my bag off my back and pulled it backwards, ostensibly to help but which knocked me off balance and of course made me think that someone was trying to steal my bag. She did not seem to have any understanding of why when someone grabs my bag I would assume someone was trying to steal it? Again I didn’t do anything other than hold onto it tight and try and make it clear that I required no “help”
Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex