I got used to this, really used to this. But when I left my ex I no longer had a car. He took it. He had never let me ride the subway but now I didn't have a choice. At first I stood. I avoided sitting next to men. Then I found that men sat next to me and there was really no way to avoid sitting next to one unless I stood all the time. Long trips made that impossible. I remember the first time I was crashed into a crowded subway and a smelly construction worker was so close to me touching me that I could smell him. I was cursing my ex the whole time for putting me a Muslim woman in such a position of having to deal with such things.
Am I not mentioning that I also had my children with me at times and I hated that my daughter had to sit next to men also.
Now, I suppose I am used to. I sit down next to anyone now. I try to turn away when couples kiss or a man walks on the train half naked. But looking back on this experience it just makes me realize how much our situations desensitize us. What once made my skin crawl is now a daily activity. Sitting down next to a strange man once seemed so foriegn and now I am forced to do it everyday.
By Andrea Karshan