When the heat soars and The Girls in Their Summer Dresses are on parade, the penises come out, hands start grabbing for flesh, and the whole world becomes hot and bothered!
A Recent New York Times article unmasked the ugly truth of the Summer subway underworld:

Women know the drill. Just as some men reflexively check to see if they have their wallets on a crowded train, women check their bodies.
Pull in your backside and your front. Wedge a large bag for protection between yourself and the nearest anonymous male rider, who might, just might, be planning something. Put on your fiercest face, and brace yourself for contact that seems too deliberate to be accidental, too prolonged to be random.


I know many women like Ms. Caccaro who have experienced the same sort of emotional mauling on public transportation in New York:

Jenna Caccaro, 22, a fashion student who lives in Brooklyn,
said she was first flashed on the subway when she was 15. She thought
it might have been because she was wearing her Catholic school uniform.
“I thought that maybe I’d done something to attract him,” she said,
“but my family reassured me he was just a sleaze.”

Is groping and flashing something each young female should be warned about before she ventures out alone in the big city?
Does “The Groping Talk” happen before or after “The Sex Talk?”

Vivian Lynch, 68, used to take the F train home to Queens.
She shivered at the memory. “It happened to me in the 70’s,” she said.
“Men used to touch women on the train and stand close to them and ruin
their clothes.”

In some ways, groping seems almost an accepted part of subway culture.
Stephanie Vullo, 43, said she had dealt many times with men rubbing up
against her or trying to touch her on crowded No. 4 or 5 trains in the
morning when she takes her daughter to school. “It’s worse in the
summer months when everyone is wearing less clothing,” she said. “The
first time I turned around and yelled at the guy, but with my daughter,
I don’t want to get her upset.”

Why do men flash and grope women? Is it a thrill? Is it
an uncontrollable impulse?
Have you ever heard of a woman flashing or groping men on a train?

I
haven’t and I wonder if the reason women don’t flash and grope is
because someone just might take them up on their offer!

37 Comments

  1. Dane Cook has a routine about how he would like to be remembered in history, and the way he would achieve this is to find a random child in an airport enjoying an ice cream cone, and smash it in the child’s face while yelling “You will remember this!” He imagines that the child, many years later, will recount the story still because it is something so out of the ordinary.
    Perhaps the flashers wish to be remembered for something and, having no talents of their own to speak of, use the one thing that just about every male has which no woman has. Pretty sad, methinks.

  2. Does “The Groping Talk” happen before or after “The Sex Talk?”
    My kids got it at the same time – along with the safe sex message and the CONSENT message. ie- Don’t touch without permission and if you do so make sure you safe!
    “Why do men flash and grope women? Is it a thrill? Is it an uncontrollable impulse?”
    Almost always for a reaction (either from themselves or the *victims*) – then then feed psychologically off that reaction and become addicted to that reaction. There is also a touch of the naughty boy, not getting caught who will then do it again and again as he gets away with it – adrenaline rush.
    I wonder too if there is any connection here with the multitude men who insist on taking and sending pictures of their penises in email in repsonse to adverts etc. I moderate several large Adult yahoo groups in the UK – the men nearly always elect to upload penis pictures where as women tend to upload facial/ parial boob shots or leg shots.
    “Have you ever heard of a woman flashing or groping men on a train? I haven’t and I wonder if the reason women don’t flash and grope is because someone just might take them up on their offer!”
    Genital flashing and groping I think are predominantly a male preserve – however
    does *mooning* count as flashing? Certainly seems to be more of an equality thing there especially amongst college students. ( I Accept that mooning is usually done at a distance and from moving vehicles as opposed to up close and personal on public transport).

  3. Hi Gordon —
    I am surprised you are aware of Dane Cook. Isn’t he the “three in the pink, one in the stink” handshape guy? I don’t find him funny. He is barely tolerable. I guess his humor must be missed on me as a generation gap sort of thing…
    I know some women try to fight back by taking pictures of their flashers with their cellphones and posting them on the web. That has always hit me as the wrong approach because you are seeking self-serving justice with no way to prove that guy is the flasher unless you catch him in full-exposure. It seems like an easy way to defame someone by taking an image and calling them a flasher without visual proof.

  4. Hi Nicola!
    I think you’re going to have to tell us more about your Adult Yahoo! group experiences!
    😀
    How old were your children when you gave them “The Talk?” Was there any age difference based on gender considerations? What do you tell female children to do when they are groped or flashed? Is simply ignoring it enough?
    Mooning is not the same as groping or flashing — though it should be! I guess it’s easier to write off a butt as funny whereas a penis is more serious business!

  5. I think you’re mixing him up with someone else. His only handshape is the “super finger” or the sufi which is like the finger but with an added finger. He hosted Saturday Night Live and was in the film Waiting where I thought he was quite funny. Also as an emusic member I had the opportunity to get both of his albums relatively inexpensively.
    If my theory is at all right and the men want to be immortalized then photo taking is counter productive, I think. 🙂

  6. One day when we have nothing better to do – I will write an “observational” piece about my life as an Adult yahoo group moderator !
    I have always answered my childrens questions when asked – to a suitable level of understanding. I also bought them two rather good “Why is mommy’s tummy so big?” type of books when I was expecting my last child which illustrated the dynamics and the biology quite well and in a humourous manner – including the sperm race which caused particular amusement for a while.
    The eldest was ten when she had her first *big* talk about sex – my son was later 13/14 and my youngest daughter was 12/13.
    My eldest daughter developed quite early both in emotional inteligence and in physique ( and the inevitable periods etc ) – my son was later ( as boys often are ) in both departments. My youngest daughter was later , but also got a lot of the information she wanted by asking her sister! The eldest has sex as young as 14. the lad waited till he was 16 ( and rang me up to tell me the morning after! ) – and my youngest I managed to postpone until her younger boyfriend was 16 – and she was 17 – as the age of consent was an issue before then.
    The advice they were given was to ignore – or walk away – if they could – if they couldnt they were told to shout for help if appropriate. Eldest also had a whistle to blow after being followed by a “strange” man in a car while out with a friend riding her bike. (We lived in the country – a whistle would have been heard and acted upon).
    Both the girls also took assertiveness courses and elementary kick boxing /self defense as well when they got to 16.
    They still wear high heels shoes when using public transport – one grope they step back onto the gropers foot/feet . Some of their friends carry either peppermint spray or deodrant in their hand bags as well – and spray the offending object!

  7. Nicola!
    I’d love to publish a piece here about your Yahoo! group service. It would be a fascinating topic for discussion!
    I’m glad to see your children are up-to-speed and prepared to take care of their own best interest. I’m also happy to know a whistle works as an emergency aid. I’m not so sure a whistle here would have the same effect.

  8. I think it’s all about intent, Dave.
    A naked butt isn’t a turn on to us, but to some who fetishize the butt it would be a thrill unlike no other.
    There are also men who ride busses to gaze at women’s bare toes: The gnarlier the better! Most women are unaware of those beasts lusting after their lowest extremities.
    The beach vs. the underwear is again about expectation of intent. On the beach everyone is assumed to be there for body exploration while underwear at home holds a more protective sheen of importance.

  9. I wonder if some men do these types of things because of some ancient need to reproduce that is encoded into our genes that has somehow become corrupt and perverted?
    Women don’t flash because they don’t need to be provocative to attract attention from most males.
    I’ve never seen or heard of a woman flashing anyone in a subway or anyplace else in public, except for alcohol-fueled episodes during Spring Break or the Indianapolis 500.
    One time, driving on a main throughfare in a dodgy part of the urban core, I did see a woman flash her breasts to a passing car, but on closer look, “she” was large enough to have maybe been a man undergoing some sort of hormone therapy.
    Maybe she was trying to “make money” to pay for “her” treatments?
    I didn’t stick around to investigate further because women — even the really wild ones — don’t usually do those types of things in public.

  10. Hi Chris!
    I look forward to your future analysis of this matter!
    I wonder what happens to women who have no instinct or interest to reproduce in your scenario? Are they somehow less vital or less active than those who flash or presuppose the exploitation of their base sexual nature?

  11. Hi David,
    I suspect that women don’t flash much, even if they don’t want to or can’t reproduce.
    Most women — from what I’ve observed — have many offers of affection from various men and therefore don’t need to be ultra provocative to attraction attention from potential mates.
    Even a woman who most might not consider attractive probably gets more unsolicited attention from men than most men get unsolicited from women, and thus can afford to wait for offers of attention from men.
    It’s also a function of our society that men have to seek out the women, rather than the other way around. Most women want an assertive and confident man that will show interest in her and take the initiative. Thus, women can wait and see who fits the mold and passes “the first test” by taking an initiative to initiate contact.
    Even when women want to dress up, wear high heels, and attract attention, they don’t necessarily want it to go any further than admiration of their beauty. They might not be doing it to attract sexual attention. Women dress up to impress other women or for themselves, and aren’t necessarily doing it for the men. If it impresses a man, it’s an added bonus.
    See “Women in Stockings‘s” post about this issue:

    I must agree on the other side that women in fact dress to impress other women as much or not more than men. Women do choose clothing both by feel and texture. Why else would pretty underthings be made in silks and satins if the feel of them close to our skin was not appealing?
    You don’t see lingerie made out of burlap, do you? The feel of fabric is not dismissed when we are shopping. I have turned my nose up at items that looked nice, but when I handled the fabric, it felt rough and coarse.

    I’ve observed that most women are “wired” differently than men.
    Women are more likely to look for a longer term relationship — including just being friends — than a man at any particular time who might just be looking for sex with a woman. Even a woman who initiates a one-night stand with a guy is probably considering the possibilities of a longer-term relationship, even if it is unlikely to work out. Women are blessed with having a special oxytocin reaction — which helps to form bonding with other people.
    From Melissa Kaplan’s Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases:

    Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead.
    When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.
    This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

    Most women don’t flash or act pervy because they aren’t necessarily seeking the same thing that a male flasher is seeking. The male might want excitment or sex; a woman seek attention
    They perv on the subway pressing up against a woman or flashing himself is looking for a biological release and it really doesn’t matter who provides that.
    The release might be the flood of brain chemicals that comes from the thrill of doing something that might result in arrest or some other bad outcome. It’s almost like an obsessive or compusive behavior that has been “learned” as an inadequate coping mechanism for stress or other issues.
    I’d also say that men who flash never get the attention from women they so desperately seek.

  12. Chris!
    Not so fast! Akismet DID grab your comment but I was quick on the draw and rescued it. I think your “oxytocin” and “sex” and other “Spammy” words were too delicious for Akismet not to munch on for awhile.
    :mrgreen:

    Even a woman who most might not consider attractive probably gets more unsolicited attention from men than most men get unsolicited from women, and thus can afford to wait for offers of attention from men.

    Now I know a lot of fat, ugly, lonely girls — sorry if I’m being blunt but that’s their basic evaluation of their status and not mine! — and they can’t seem to pull in any sort of male attention at all.
    Are you arguing they are getting attention but it is unwanted attention or are there some females in your scenario who are not flash-worthy or grope-worthy in any way?

  13. I don’t think flashers discriminate against women — even the old and unattractive can be vicitms.
    I had a friend in college who was flashed while running a register at the grocery store. She wasn’t necessarily every guy’s ideal woman — think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in “Shallow Hal.”
    I asked her about the flashing incident after I heard the buzz at the store, and she said she was so shocked she just stared at the guy’s parts. The other cashier, who was more attractive and more assertive in social situations, told the guy off and chased him out of the store. I think she said she was going to “cut it off!”
    Women who complain about not finding companionship have their “filters” screening out many potential mates or have other social-emotional issues that discourage social intercourse. [Will Askimet get this one ;)]
    Any woman can get a man if she takes the time to smile and send out the right signals.

  14. Chris!
    Akismet did not eat you this time!

    Any woman can get a man if she takes the time to smile and send out the right signals.

    Is it really as simple as that? Why do I get the feeling you’re about to get flamed for that opinion from any hardcore feminists who might be reading this thread?
    😀
    Thanks for your provocative comments, Chris! There’s so much more here to explore!

  15. Hi David,
    In the spirit of the Chicago Gay Games, I’ll amend my statement to include the following:
    Any woman can also get a woman, if she takes the time to smile and send out the vibes showing interest and openness to interaction.
    I still think if one adjusts his or her standards to be less strict, he or she can have a fulfilling relationship with the partner of his or her choice. Sometimes potential partners are overlooked for a variety of reasons.
    Let the flames begin! 😀

  16. I better add this before I really do get flamed:
    My comments are intended to be inclusive in nature because I’m happy if people are happy and encourage people to seek out their happiness.
    Sometimes I wonder if people who don’t seem to have members of the opposite sex hanging around subconsciously “filter” them out because deep down they aren’t really interested …
    The class may now discuss the merits of the above statement in a meaningful and instructive way.

  17. Hi David,
    They don’t have to find a man or partner, if they don’t want to.
    If they do, smiling and being friendly, as in all other social interactions, always makes it a little easier.
    The same thing is true for getting a teaching job in Russia or working at a financial institution — smiling can help:
    Some examples:

    Dress smartly, give the interviewer a firm handshake (unless it’s a woman, when you should be gentle and only shake hands if she offers her hand first!), smile and make eye contact. Relax, speak clearly and at a natural pace. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase, just remember to do it politely. Don’t switch to Russian unless the interviewer does so, or asks you to!

    “I’ve noticed, that STCU employees smile a lot. Not just because they’ve been told they’re working in a ‘service industry’ where friendliness is important, but because they honestly enjoy their jobs.”

    You don’t have to be friendly or smile, but it always helps in any situation.

  18. Here’s a case where a woman was arrested for being too forward:

    A woman who called 911 to get “the cutest cop I’ve seen” sent back to her home got a date all right — a court date.
    The same sheriff’s deputy arrested her on charges of misuse of the emergency dispatch system. …
    (Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. David) Thompson said Dudash then called 911, asking that the “cutie pie” deputy return.
    “He’s the cutest cop I’ve seen in a long time. I just want to know his name,” Dudash told the dispatcher. “Heck, it doesn’t come very often a good man comes to your doorstep.”…
    “Honey, I’m just going to be honest with you, OK? I just thought he was cute. I’m 45 years old and I’d just like to meet him again, but I don’t know how to go about doing that without calling 911,” she said.
    “I know this is absolutely not in any way, shape or form an emergency, but if you would give the officer my phone number and ask him to come back, would you mind?”

  19. I have never thought “holy cow” could be such an appropriate expression! Calling 911 to find out someone’s whereabouts??? Yikes!
    I find its sheer desperation, whether someone is flashing, groping, mooning (a term that I learnt just today) or calling 911 to get a date.
    The reason? Insecurity, may be? Whether emotional, physical or economical? Who knows!

  20. Hi Chris —
    I agree a smile is always helpful but to argue a woman needs to smile to get a man causes some difficult gender inequities because you rarely hear a man told he needs to smile more to get a girlfriend or to woo a woman in romance.

  21. Hi David,
    Guys aren’t told a lot of things, but it would help them also if they smiled a little. 😀
    Guys might have a rougher time getting dates from all of the programs that are targeted to help them meet women. I don’t see the same amount of interest in “Double Your Dating” on the part of females.
    It all goes back to our society’s roles for men and women. Women attract the guys. Guys have to go seek out the women and prove (often subconsciously) that they are a good catch and that the woman shouldn’t move on to the next guy.
    What do you think about this pop-psych info from the ‘net:

    ‘jerk’ or ‘bad boy’ approach comes across as more honest because he will openly talk about sex and challenge her to open up and lighten up. If done right, he acts with confidence and makes it clear that, although he finds her attractive, he’s not going to crawl to her. This takes pressure off her, but also, because of reverse psychology, makes her want him more.
    Of course the ‘jerk’ approach can be overdone, but most educated sensitive men could stand to be less ‘nice’ and more ‘bad’.

    Maybe a smiling man threatens women, while a snarling woman threatens a man?
    P.S. I put a “nofollow” after that link, but I assume Word Press probably also does that as well.

  22. I have a question regarding the link provided by Chris.
    Does this very mechanical/robotic approach prescribed by the so called experts really work?
    Or we desperately followed it and it became the norm?
    Getting attracted to each other by measuring the length/width/breadth of one’s smile?
    Confidence equating “bad boy approach???”
    How dumb! (Sorry if I sounded rude.)
    It goes without saying that a spontaneous, genuine smile has its own attraction – but if every time I smile I have to calculate the level of attraction created towards my potential partner, that will surely become a plastic smile instead.
    Bottom-line, a real gentleman doesn’t need to try hard, neither a normal, well behaved, matured woman.

  23. I’m a big believer that smiling helps everyone — even if it’s just a smile to wish someone a good day or to recognize them.
    There is some very bad dating advice out there, as illustrated by the link. It’s too bad there are a lot of guys who read that stuff and believe it works.
    However, our divorce rate is 50%. I wonder if the “jerk factor” has anything to do with that.
    It’s always better to be yourself — whoever you are. Be genuinely interested in someone and they will be attracted to you.
    Trying to act a certain way, or following a mechanical script can never work because it takes too much effort. People can detect fakery!
    I only put the link because it illustrates that there are many men out there who have no clue about being human, let along being attractive to women.
    The “jerks” are just a few steps above the flashers and subway pervs!

  24. Thanks for the clarification Chris!
    I 100% agree with you. A sincere, honest smile has its own charm. In fact, you can read a person like a book by his/her smile. A smile is worth a million words!
    But at the same time, fakery can be detected. It can be detected within no time and that’s a sure-fire turn off.
    The foundation of any relationship should be honesty, openness and friendship.
    You are right Chris; some people are so busy mugging up these pointless, hollow words that they forget about being human and stay closed in their own cocooned world.