For Men Only
For many people, it’s easy to feel vulnerable when alone. For this reason, we avoid walking home alone (especially at night), or we stay on the phone with a friend if we’re scared. After all, there’s strength in numbers.
And yet for many others, there is nowhere more terrifying than a crowded place. Whether it’s the feeling of being cramped, not being able to breathe, or that uneasy sense of innumerable hands and eyes surrounding you, cramped and crowded places like clubs or subway cars can allow people to grab, grope, and rub without being caught. Anybody is a suspect, and anybody can be a victim.
Now, an art installation is using shock value to change our perception of—that is, many people’s ability to ignore—sexual assault.
In June 2016, the NYPD reported a startling rise in the number of reported cases of sexual assault on the New York City subway. In six months, some 458 sex crimes were reported; compared to 299 crimes reported in the same time period a year earlier, this marked a 50% increase in reported assaults. At that rate, there would be some 900 incidents of sexual assault on the subway by the end of the year.
According to Joseph Fox, the chief of transit for the NYPD, “Crimes that would previously go unreported because victims are embarrassed, intimidated or lacked the confidence that the case would be taken seriously are now being documented and fully investigated. Our teams are catching more sex offenders in the act and more women are coming forward knowing that we are committed to aggressively pursuing each criminal complaint.”
Even while on a routine commute, surrounded by dozens of people, many women (and others) found themselves at the most risk of all.
Of course, unwanted touching and sexual assault are problems all around the world, especially in societies plagued by unbalanced gender norms and expectations for women and men.
In 2014, Mexico City was ranked the second most dangerous out of 16 cities for women on public transportation, placing only behind Bogota. But when it came to physical harassment, the Mexican capital was ranked most dangerous.
Now, an unusual piece of art has popped up on the Mexico City Metro that serves as both a visual and tactile reminder of how uncomfortable and disturbing assault and public perversion can be.
The Penis Seat
The sexist seat, also known as the penis seat, is a new installment on one train on the Mexico City subway system.
The seat is made up of a realistic mold of a man’s body, complete with a chest, belly button, and a flaccid penis—all of which makes sitting on the seat an uncomfortable ride. But not as uncomfortable as the sobering statistics that come along with it.
According to the installation, 9 in 10 women in Mexico City have been victims of sexual violence.
A video of passengers seeing or sitting on the seat shows their averse reactions, not only to the chair itself, but to the horrible truth it represents. Keep reading.