0days0hours0minutes0seconds

A woman boards the airplane for her flight, she sits down...and ends up harassed by the man sitting near her. It's a dishearteningly common story. For those who haven't seen anything like this before, you might be surprised by how "normal" this kind of behavior is.

And that's the subject of one woman's viral Twitter thread. Reporter Joanna Chiu sat in front of a teenage girl and a grown man on a recent flight. After witnessing the man harass this teenage girl, Chiu spoke up about the experience. Furthermore, the rest of Twitter is responding (and relating) hardcore to Joanna's words.

So get the full story on what went down on the flight. Chiu demonstrates exactly how people should be looking out for each other in those situations. It's a great thing that she was present...and that she has a platform to educate on such things afterward!

Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem today.

via: Getty

It can happen to anyone, but there's no denying that women overwhelmingly find themselves the victims of sexual harassment from male perpetrators.

Not only can it happen to anyone; it can also happen anywhere.

via: Getty

And in this instance, we're talking about sexual harassment happening 35,000 feet up, during a commercial airplane flight.

Which is especially uncomfortable.

via: Getty

Because if something like that starts happening, there's really nowhere to go. It's up to you and the people around you to ensure that you're safe.

Luckily, reporter Joanna Chiu is a great ally to have in such situations.

So let's dive in: Chiu was all settled in to her recent flight, but something began to happen in the row behind her.

Immediate red flag!

Because what's so funny about a woman wanting to be a CEO? Oh, right. Nothing.

The girl was doing her best with all the attention.

Now, I can't actually say what she was thinking at this point, but even when women are uncomfortable with attention like this the common default is to try and be polite (until we can't anymore).

Which is what happened.

And once things got truly out of hand, Joanna stepped in.

Turns out, Joanna wasn't the only woman looking out for this girl.

This is the kind of awareness and solidarity we need if we're going to keep fighting this kind of harassment.

Then, the man was asked to move.

But of course, that was easier said than done. A common trait with harassers like this is belligerence, especially towards other women.

Finally, the man moved.

So the girl was okay in the end, if (more than likely) uncomfortable and shaken. It's important for the people in charge to handle things well!

Chiu noticed something strange.

And she asks a good question. Was it really so hard for other passengers to notice what was happening?

Joanna recalled her own experiences with sexual harassment.

It's disturbing what innocent, innocuous things men like that will use to justify a woman's "interest" in them.

That wasn't Joanna's only experience, either.

And this time, sexual harassment turned into a sexual assault.

This is why adults need to be vigilant.

Harassment isn't just insults and slurs. Assault isn't just throwing punches. Adults need to know what these things look like in all their forms, and how to intervene.

Joanna had lingering concerns.

And it's a valid concern. A guy like that really should be monitored in the future, since he clearly didn't know how to conduct himself appropriately. But who knows if that will happen?

At the very least, the man got a stern talking-to.

Good. At least he had the sense to know he was in trouble for his behavior!

Chiu even got a thank-you note.

via: Twitter

I don’t want to say name of airline because journalists have to be careful not to make endorsements but just want to say that this Canadian airline crew handled the situation so well. Workplaces, schools, sports teams etc. can take note. They even gave me and other woman a card. -Joanna Chiu

Here's what the note said:

via: Twitter

So good on the airline for recognizing what needed to be done, and for recognizing the individuals who helped that happen!

Chiu isn't done with the harasser, however.

Again, good. Hopefully, his employer follows up with disciplinary action.

Chiu sent her best to the young passenger she helped.

And offered another source of insight for those who don't know enough about this kind of harassment--because it's a very real problem!

Other women replied to Chiu's thread.

Unsurprisingly, many of them had encounters of their own to relay about harassment while traveling via airplane.
Honestly, this is why aisle seats are so much more comfortable for some of us. Window seats may offer a cool view of the clouds, but at least in the aisle seat you're not blocked in.

Parents also felt strongly about this.

Especially parents who have been in both positions: the person being harassed, and the person who stepped in to prevent it.

There's a common theme with all these replies.

Namely, the knowledge that harassment like this happens all the time. Hopefully, after this thread, more people are aware of it too.

And thus, the thread went viral.

So Chiu went back and shared some more guidelines for people who are unsure of how to intervene when they see someone being harassed.

Like this:

Apparently, actual sexual harassment training (i.e. telling people not to) doesn't always work. But teaching people how to put a stop to it is more effective.

And here's a list of tips:

If you've never been given pointers like this, then definitely look these over! You never know when they might be needed.

Here's another list.

This one is written up by the Batter Women's Support Services--so it's a great resource to use!

Chiu's thread took off so much, she wrote an op-ed about it.

And she's right! Using social media as a platform to talk about these issues is one huge way it's so useful!

And there were some promising responses from men who saw the thread, too.

Chiu likely had the right idea when she suggested that many men don't see this because they didn't grow up having to look out for it themselves. But with conversations like this, hopefully, those men will be able to intervene with just as much certainty as Chiu and other women who have experienced harassment firsthand! Share this story and continue the incredibly important conversation that has come from it!