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Foul Language on the Bus

I was riding the bus today and a bunch of young black guys (25 years old and younger, I believe) were ranting about life. That was fine, but their language was so horrendous. "Bitch" this and "Nigga" that and "shit" this. They went on and on, getting louder and louder, until the conversation turned to how they never wanted to "bang basic bitches" and instead, would turn to teachers and deans and school counselors. Yeah, that was an actual conversation.

Normally I'm immune to this kind of language, but near the front of the bus, a little girl (maybe about five or six) sat with her father. I gave eye-rolls to the dad, and he seemed to understand that I didn't approve of the language, but the little girl...just the look on her face. At first I thought she was oblivious to it all, but as the language got worse and the situations more graphic, I could tell she knew it was "bad."

I was torn between checking these guys and my fear of being attacked, verbally or physically. At the end of it, I felt slightly abnormal and disappointed with myself. This little black girl, who basically is new to the world, was assaulted by a bunch of young black men. Why? They saw her. The knew she was there. They had an entire conversation about how women in Chicago get "split" from ear to ear in gang violence. As a positive.

What would you have done in this situation?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
I tend remain quiet. Recently, I overheard two men misgender a little boy on the bus, and then, go straight into a rant about trans* women right in front of him. Exposing a child to transphobia, especially a child who is often misgendered (as reported by his grandmother) is really unsettling to me, but I never feel comfortable speaking up because 1) I might get attacked and/or 2) I might just end up spurring on more transphobia. However, if it were my child, I more than likely would have spoken up because I don't want my children to be exposed to transphobia because I actually fucking understand that my child could be trans*.
Apr. 6th, 2013 01:18 am (UTC)
As someone who uses vulgar language pretty freely I wouldn't have said anything to the boys. That wasn't the right setting to address them. Now if I was the father (the mother instead because if I was a male I would have told them to calm down) I would have either a) asked the bus driver to address it I'm sure there are rules against using language like that on the bus &/or b) got the attention of my daughter to distract her either by educating her on how those boys are ignorant or keeping her engaged in a different conversation. If possible I would have moved farther away from them if possible, if I had headphones I would let her listen to music.
If I were you I would have turned to the little girl & said "pretty & smart girls don't talk like that do they?" & talked to her or something. But more than likely I would have just turned my music up louder if I could even hear the boys in the first place.
Apr. 6th, 2013 05:32 am (UTC)
sigh. i am 4'9" and so will probably never call out behavior by a group of dudes in public, even if it's as terrible as that.
Apr. 6th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
Considering they were talking like that about women and I'm a woman, I wouldn't have said anything directly for fear of hearing that kind of talk directed at me. I probably would've asked the bus driver to address it.

As a parent of a child, if I were in that situation, I would've covered his ears and explained why I was doing it.
Apr. 6th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
I used to hear language like this all the time when I lived in Philly. These kids were under 16, and the things they would say were just disgusting.

I wouldn't say a word. People out here are crazy. Say something, and they'll flip out on you. I think the only time I would intervene is if things were getting physical (like assaulting and such).
Apr. 6th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
I don't think I would have said anything to them directly for fear of being physically or verbally assaulted as well. I probably would have given a couple laser beam side eyes, and some you are on some bullshit looks if I was by myself. If I was with someone I would have loudly comment, I guess somewhat passive aggressively about how rude the guys were being and how "basic" they were being themselves. Something like lol forever you think women will find that appealing. I would also say something to bus driver.

If I was parent, I would tell my child why precisely these guys were assholes and people you never wanted to be around. I don't think you should feel bad for not saying something to them. You can't tell if they were just being edgy assholes or trying to get rise of woman so they could "put her in her place". Any man that uses that kind of language is probably a violent misogynist pr "racio-misogynist" and probably would not hesitate hit a woman who disagreed with him. I do wish there was a safe way to call these assholes on their bullshit.
Apr. 7th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
A situation like this happened a few years ago when I was on the bus. It was like 1am, and these guys were really rowdy and using vulgar language. Every woman who got on the bus, they had a little 'commentary' for. This woman had her little girl (about 4 years old) on the bus with her, and she asked them to please stop speaking like that. Those guys went OFF on this poor woman. Asking her "what kind of mother are you having a kid on a bus at 1am. You're a fucking whore, etc." It was really disgusting. Finally the bus driving got a policeman who escorted them off the bus. I dunno how they got home, since that was the last bus. But who cares. Lol
Apr. 7th, 2013 12:25 pm (UTC)
If I look around me and think the other people present would back me up in a fight and COULD back me up, yeah I'll say something.

Having said that...you'd be surprised what kids are exposed to. Doesn't make it right, but they can't be protected from this kind of stuff 24/7. Especially in situations like public transport...
Apr. 8th, 2013 04:16 am (UTC)
this whole thread breaks my heart
Because I wouldn't say a thing. I would sit there, my heart breaking, wishing I could erase those boys from the memory of that little girl but knowing I couldn't guarantee my safety or anyone else's if I said something and some bad sh!t went down...

The "pretty & smart girls don't talk like that do they?" issue is another one entirely...

Pretty & smart girls? People with sense or home training don't talk like that, whether they're pretty or smart or identify as girls IMO.
Apr. 8th, 2013 05:34 am (UTC)
Re: this whole thread breaks my heart
I have to agree, my heart shrank too. Because my first instinct is to say "I would have stood right up and gave those men a stern talking to!!" ..yeah right. That's just not the world we live in, no matter what confidence we have in ourselves. I, just like every other woman that commented, would have kept silent that day on the bus. I hope that in the moment I would have the sense to distract the little girl with positive conversation.

I get the saddest though when the person exposing the children to foul language and inappropriate topics are their guardians.
Apr. 8th, 2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say anything. I hear this all time on the bus, and train where I'm at. Sad to say it, but sometimes you just have to grin and bear what you overhear on public transportation. Now, if I knew one of kids I would say something.
Apr. 8th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
I would have just sat there, and pretended not to hear a thing. It sound cowardly but I doubt anyone else would wanna risk getting attacked physically or verbally. It's quite sad that I'd put mp3 in my ears and allow the child to be scarred, but I'm too scared to stand up to such people
Apr. 11th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
It's so normal to me, I probably would have just sat there and shook my head.

But thank you for making this post! After teaching high school, I feel a lot more comfortable addressing unknown young people. I may challenge myself in the future to say something.

A lot of times young people really don't need to be feared. And they're so used to foul language they don't realize the effect it has on people. They're in their own lil bubble
Apr. 15th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
I'm sure I wouldn't have said anything.

Frankly, it's up to her father (if he's bold enough) or another man on the bus to politely say, "Gentlemen, do you mind toning down your language in front of the lady?" if they really want to go there. Although that could possibly end up in a negative event, it would send a strong message.

But I believe ignoring them in this situation was an appropriate decision. The father could have engaged the child in a conversation of their own to distract her, or hopefully next time he'll provide her with some earbuds and an ipod.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )



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