independent

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Bullying of women exists at so many levels

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

There was a breeze coming from somewhere on the upper deck of a Dublin Bus vehicle. I noticed there was a window open on the other side of the bus. Suddenly I heard a loud bang. It sounded aggressive. The man sitting in front of me had got up, gone over to the window and closed it with significant force and then sat down on the seat under the window he had closed. After a few seconds I noticed a conversation between the man and the young woman sitting in the seat in front of him.

Voices had risen and naturally I got interested. The woman asked him to re-open the window as she had some time earlier opened it. She explained she wanted some fresh air. He was having none of it and told her he was cold and he would not open the window. He got very angry.

She expressed her opinion in forthright terms. He told her he was a 77-year old man, was cold, and the window was staying shut. No bad language between the two of them but at one stage he did say he did not give 'a damn' how she felt. Eventually she said something about his inappropriate behaviour, turned around in her seat and the altercation was over.

I was a neutral bystander observing proceedings. If I were asked to judge the event, I would have said she won hands down. She expressed her view in a clear and authoritative way. He was rude and aggressive. When it was all over it was clear to see that he was still angry and upset about it all. Indeed, he bullied her, she stood up for herself but the window remained closed.

Somewhere near O'Connell Bridge she moved downstairs. I followed her and when we were on the lower deck I complimented her on how she handled the situation. She was gracious and thanked me. As she was getting off the bus she told the driver what had happened. He listened to her. He sounded attentive and sympathetic but I could not exactly hear what he said to her.

The bus stopped, the young woman got off and the bus pulled out. I was now closer to the driver and heard him calling control and reporting the incident. As he was talking to his colleague the offending passenger came down the stairs and was standing near the driver as he reported the complaint. He said nothing but I did notice his head moving in some sort of derisory fashion.

He got off the bus. Now it was my chance to talk to the driver. I explained how I saw it all develop and did take the side of the young woman. We had a chat about it all and he explained how he sees all human life on his bus every day. We both agreed how people can get so annoyed and angry and so often it begins with something small and incidental.

Of course that man should not have closed the window as he did and also, he should have asked the woman passenger if it was okay if he could close it. But as I observed him during the encounter and then afterwards it was clear he had an 'attitude'.He bullied her. It was impressive to observe her behaviour. And yet, he forced his will on her.

An elderly man bullying a young woman and he with his Travel Pass. Women far too often suffer too much at the hands of men.

Wexford People

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