All the jokes about going downtown just write themselves, don’t they?
When a man masturbates in public, it’s creepy and it’s criminal and women feel at best grossed out and at worst violated. When a woman masturbates in public, it’s …. a really funny article for Cosmoplitan?
Anna Breslaw brought a tiny vibrator, the Iroha Sakura from Babeland, onto the New York City’s N train. [Full disclosure: Breslaw and I frequently send our posts to each other to link on our respective sites, though I haven't met her personally.] She also bought herself a gyro from a nearby halal cart to nosh on while doing the deed, because snacks.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t go so well. Breslaw wrote:
On the train, I clandestinely turned the vibrator on, but couldn’t figure out a comfortable way to sit because they don’t have helpful pamphlets on the ergonomics of public masturbation. Also, I was dripping tzatziki sauce on my skirt. From somewhere else in the car came the whooping cough of a small child, which oddly enough was not doing it for me sexually. By Union Square, it was working physically, but to have an orgasm you also have to be in The Zone mentally, and I was about eighty miles and one off-road path from The Zone, no matter how hard I tried…. I did not have an orgasm. However I finished my gyro, which was actually pretty good.
Perhaps saying Breslaw masturbated in public is pushing it — but she at least tried. And in doing so, she proved nothing that we didn’t already know about why public transportation is a disgusting smelly unerotic shithole that’s not conducive to creaming your pants, even when you have a tasty snack. Entertaining? A little bit. But mostly just awkward to read.
Plenty of people entertain fantasies of public sex and a select few actually do it, to mixed success. I’ve always thought it would be hella hot to have sex in one of the dressing rooms at Agent Provocateur, although I lack the guts to try this in real life. Additionally, there’s a fantasy that exists — especially with men, in my experience — of secretly bringing your partner to orgasm while she’s in public, a la that terrible Gerard Butler/Katherine Heigl vibrating panties scene in “The Ugly Truth.” So in a journalistic sense, Breslaw touched upon (no pun intended) real people’s fantasies.
But I find it difficult, as a feminist, to chuckle or applaud her for doing something, even surreptitiously, that would be inappropriate and gross if a man were to do it, even if it were for a piece in Maxim. My disapproval is not because “sex is sinful!” or “women who masturbate are sluts!” — far from it. It’s about hypocrisy. So much energy has been put into trying to get police, transportation authorities and other rides to take it seriously when men masturbate, sexually harass, sexually assault, or generally be creepy to women on the subway. So, I am pretty happy with people, including women, keeping their sex acts private. (Those of us who perform sex acts in consenting groups excepted, of course). The fact that other people on the N train didn’t realize masturbation was happening doesn’t make it OK — it only makes Breslaw lucky from a legal standpoint.
I hope Cosmo gets all the pageviews they were hoping for with this clickbait. I also hope they set their standards higher for their writers.
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[Subway photo via Shutterstock]