With one simple tweet, Nathalie Gordon had the attention of men and women everywhere.
Let me tell you a story about why men will never understand what it's like to be female.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493908271.0
Women who saw her tweet probably knew more or less what kind of story was coming. Men, on the other hand, were in for an eye-opening ride.
Gordon began by recounting a seemingly casual encounter with a man on a bus.
He asks me where the bus is going. I tell him what the next station is. He asks me where I'm going.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493908341.0
In that moment I instantly became worried. Again I am polite and say 'no thank you'. I go to put my earphones back in.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493908459.0
The conversation quickly escalated from casual to obnoxious to downright scary.
I look out the window but out the corner of my eye I see he is staring at me and has started to rub his crotch.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493908582.0
"I'm horrified and turn to ask him to stop doing it. He laughs at me," she tweeted next.
When she ran to the front of the bus to report the man to the driver, the driver reportedly told her to "sit somewhere else."
I say 'remove him from the bus, call the police- I don't care'. The driver then says to me, 'you're a pretty girl, what do you expect?'— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493908913.0
The bus driver was no help.
"You're a pretty girl, what do you expect?" the driver asked her. Gordon had a pretty powerful answer to that.
What I expect is fucking respect for women who don't want go for a drink, who ask for help, who are afraid.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493909028.0
What I expect is to feel safe on the bus, the street, my house or anywhere I choose to go.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493909349.0
What I expect is for good men to be on our side, to support us, to listen, to care, to stand up for us when we can't and to educate others.— Nathalie Gordon (@Nathalie Gordon) 1493910656.0
As Gordon's tweets went viral, similar stories from countless other women poured in.
Several women responded about their own run-ins with creeps on public transit. One woman wrote that, in her case, it was the bus driver himself who wouldn't take "no" for an answer, actually following her off the bus one day and insisting on a date.
"The stories I'm being told [from women] are harrowing," Gordon explained over Twitter direct message. "There's a real sense of hopeless when you see these messages en masse."
Then men began responding to Gordon's story, many unthinkingly proving her exact point: They just didn't get it.
Some of their responses were truly vile.
One man even responded by writing a lengthy screed from the perspective of Gordon's bus driver, in which he tried to explain that the bus driver's right to say "no" to helping a female passenger avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted is what equality really looks like because the bus driver shouldn't have to "fight her battles for her."
To them, Gordon has one simple answer: "Men, your input isn't necessary here. Just listen."
"Don't find fault or shout your opinion over people talking about actual experiences," she later wrote. "Just listen, read these stories and be a better, kinder, more informed, supportive and understanding man for the women in your lives."
Despite the critics and the doubters, Gordon says she came away from the discussion feeling encouraged.
"For every guy saying something cruel there's 10 rushing to my defence," she explains. "They've recognised that women don't want, need or expect to be saved. We want people standing beside us going 'This is wrong, we need to find a way to stop this from happening.'"
"I know so many good men and this has confirmed that there are plenty more out there," Gordon says. "I just hope they are as vocal in real life as they are on Twitter because they have such power if they do."