“a male passenger sitting near the doors was either filming or photographing twenty-something female passengers without their knowledge”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to alert you and your readers to something that happened on the metro yesterday (Saturday) around 7:30pm on the blue line going toward Franconia-Springfield. While entering the train at McPherson Square, I noticed that a male passenger sitting near the doors was either filming or photographing twenty-something female passengers without their knowledge or consent. At first I thought he was watching a video on his iPhone until I realized the scenes on his phone were other passengers. He even zoomed in on the bare legs and upper thigh area of one of the passengers. I was completely disgusted and walked to the other end of the train. I regret not knowing what else to do as I feared getting a photo of him, advising the other passengers, and/or confronting him would further threaten the safety of those within the train.

I wanted to let you know so that your readers keep an eye out for this type of behavior and what their fellow passengers may be doing on their devices. Many other passengers sat near this man and it appeared none of them were aware of what was happening. Unfortunately the man had no real identifying characteristics so giving a physical description would not be helpful.”

Ed. Note: Back in December a reader reported a “Creep filming women on Metro” then posts footage to an adult site.

32 Comment

  • I think publicly shaming these creeps is perfectly appropriate. What they’re doing is totally legal, but doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little public humiliation calling them out on their ickiness.

    • I agree on one hand, but I come from the school of pick your battles. If he was doing upskirt video, sure, but I don’t think this is worth a potential violent confrontation.

    • “I think publicly shaming these creeps is perfectly appropriate. What they’re doing is totally legal,”

      I feel the same about people drinking from disposable water bottles. Even though it’s legal, it’s morally reprehensible. I should really tell people off when I see them drinking from their eco-disaster containers.

      That, and seersucker suits. Legal, of course, but still an abomination.

  • So you’re outraged enough to warn others about this behavior, but not enough to act when it’s going on right in front of you? If it upset you so much, you should have slipped a note to the women being filmed.

    • Sometimes decent people are shocked by the bad behavior of assholes and aren’t able to process what’s happening quickly enough to react. Nice try though.

    • Slip a note? Maybe the OP didn’t have pen and paper handy and didn’t want to/couldn’t take out her phone to type a note? Maybe her hands were full? I don’t think that is a very reasonable suggestion.

  • You live in a big city, you are basically being filmed without your knowledge all the time. Let’s not have all women be paranoid of every guy they see on a cellphone?

  • Sadly, metro creeps seem to be thriving. Last week I was the only woman on a mostly-empty train when a man in my line of sight began vigorously masturbating/jerking off while staring at me. (This was during my morning commute, too, not even late at night.) Since he was looking at me I wasn’t able to discreetly get a photo in order to file a report, but I did switch train cars at the next stop.

    • justinbc

      That’s just so messed up. I really can’t imagine what makes someone think this is ever OK.

      • This behavior is on-par with a flasher, peeping-tom, etc. There are probably a whole host of other mental health issues going on in their disturbed brains.

  • Call them out by alerting the woman, publicly, and loudly. Creeps do this bc they know women’s voices are muffled with fear of physical violence. Remove this assumption and speak. Expose them.

  • This “warning” is built on an assumption that the people being filmed or photographed actually care. The Post did a story about ten years ago saying the average Washingtonian was on somebody’s private security camera nearly 70 times every single day. And that was ten years ago – the number of cameras has gone up.
    I don’t particularly mind if somebody wants to take a photo of me in a public place. I won’t wear anything in public that provides an opportunity to see anything I don’t actively want others to see (no matter what position I am sitting or standing in) or that I might be embarrassed to be wearing in a photo on this blog or in a newspaper. I tend to avoid picking my nose or re-adjusting intimate areas on the subway. But by far, the most important factor is that I am well aware when I leave my house in the morning that I’m going to be on dozens of cameras no matter what and that every single person I pass has a camera in their pocket they can pull out if I’m doing something dumb. Given that awareness, I just don’t care if someone wants to take a photo of me in a public place – as long as they *don’t* show me any photos of what they do when they look at it later!

    • I disagree with your post. While you may feel that if you are wearing something conservative, you do not mind being filmed, the intent in being filmed is most likely what unsettled the OP. I was filmed while metroing home while reading a book and wearing absolutely nothing revealing. The guy was touching himself and readjusting his shorts to reveal his package (through his shorts) to try to get a reaction out of me. It was SO unsettling and I felt very violated. I think it would have been a perfectly reasonable thing for a bystander to say to me, “excuse me, I believe you are being filmed. Are you comfortable with that?” In my case, I was so freaked out that I got up and moved to the other end of the car (and confirmed he was filming me when I walked past), and then went to speak to the police at the next stop.

  • Thank you for alerting us. In the future I would encourage everyone to take their own phone out and begin snapping away. After a few clicks say something like, “oh, it’s picture time!” With a big smile say, “oh sir, those pictures you shot of everyone are nice, are you going to share them?” I bet a million dollars he gets off the train next stop. AND you have a pic so you don’t need a description. Make sure you picture is in focus first!!

    Now you are empowered as to exactly how to help! ❤️

  • “Unfortunately the man had no real identifying characteristics so giving a physical description would not be helpful.”

    How can someone not have identifying characteristics? That is a ridiculous statement. The man had a certain hair type/color/length, eye color, weight, height…you can’t describe *any* of that? Sigh.

  • Last week I was standing behind an older guy on the morning commute (Green Line toward Branch). He took a photo of another male passenger standing in front of him. I leaned over and said “So do you know that guy?” He looked at me and shrugged “Uh, no.” I replied, “That’s really weird, man. Taking photos of someone on the train like that. You shouldn’t do that.” He answered, “People take photos of other people all the time.” “It doesn’t matter. That’s weird and you shouldn’t do it,” I said.
    So I walked over to the guy who had his photo taken and told him “Hey, that guy took a photo of you. Just thought you should know.” The guy had his headphones in and just said “oh” and looked away. He didn’t seem to care or want to acknowledge the comment. I went back to the older guy and said “Don’t take pictures of people like that anymore. It’s weird.”
    He said, “Thanks for your opinion.” I answered right back, “No, it’s not an opinion. Don’t do it.”
    And that was the end of the interaction. No one said anything around me. It was a quiet morning commuter train. There was no reaction whatsoever.
    There is nothing wrong with calling these people out. We should all do it!

    • What’s really weird is telling someone that what they’re doing is wrong when it’s not. Maybe the photographer liked the guys hair style or shirt… Maybe he had some weird electronic device he was going to ask his grandkids about… Maybe he was on a scavenger hunt. I’m not saying he was definitely right or totally normal, but I think if I were to write a headline for a paper for this it would be “Two weird men, who don’t respect personal boundaries got in verbal interaction while on metro train, confuses third man who may or may not be weird”. It would be a long headline, but ink is cheap.

      • I guess I am not afraid to engage people, especially ones who are creepy or suspicious. I think enablers like yourself who reason their way out of every situation only further the creepy behavior of others we have to share public space with. Lighten up. I would hope someone would tell me if some strange dude was taking photos of me on the metro. It sounds like it wouldn’t be you though.

        • You are such a bizarre person. After you tell a story about accosting a stranger doing something that is not illegal and probably not even immoral, but violates your personal code of conduct… You tell me to lighten up?

          I’m not reasoning out of a situation or enabling… I just think you’re nuts.

          The irony here is that you posted this on a blog that thrives off pictures taken in public places, sometimes of people suripticiously doing weird/unusual things. I hope the picture of the guy sitting on the metro with a weird (maybe popville) shirt makes it on this blog and then followed by a video of an unhinged paranoid bystander who freaks out and then tells other people to lighten up.

    • Yours is the weirdest behavior of the three people involved in the story. So weird that I actually think you might be making it up. Regardless, you can say what you want and think what you want but it’s only your opinion, just like the guy on the train told you.

    • Am I the only one who read Georgia Ave’s anecdote as satire meant to illustrate the weirdness of confronting weirdos?

    • This is one of the most insane things I’ve ready today. How could you think your behavior is appropriate?

    • justinbc

      Thank god, you saved the day!

  • I have seen this too, quite often in fact. I don’t know that the men in question are always taking pictures, sometimes I think they are just using their phones to stare at women. You know – point the phone at someone and then stare at it instead of them. I would venture that up to half the guys you see looking at their phones are actually doing this. It’s gross but I have come to expect it.

    • Accountering

      Oh come on… Half? That is a bit ridiculous. I agree, this likely happens, and the dudes are creeps, but there is no chance that half the guys fooling around on the train are secretly using them to look at girls.

    • justinbc

      “I would venture that up to half the guys you see looking at their phones are actually doing this.”
      This behavior is no doubt creepy, but if you think half the men looking are their phones are doing this you’re delusional.

      • At least half, you are naïve if you think otherwise.

        • Accountering

          This can’t be serious. That means when my buddy and I are riding on a train together and fiddling on our phones, you think one of us is using our phone to spy on you? You truly are delusional.

        • How can you even stand to go out in public being so paranoid? Have you ever actually talked to a male that owns a phone? I am 100% sure that you are 100% wrong.

        • “up to” half, or “at least” half? You’re obviously making this up. As the others say, you are quite wrong and presumably you’re exaggerating to get a rise or something. Well done, I guess.

  • I agree with Anon Spock regarding picking your battles. Being “completely disgusted” seems like quite an overreaction to me.

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