Women are being catcalled and harassed on the street and across social media. Now they have to worry about airplanes, too?
It’s been reported that Jessica Van Meir, a woman flying alone back to Atlanta, Georgia, was inundated with inappropriate messages from male passengers who were using the plane’s in-flight messaging system.
Van Meir took pictures of the various messages and shared them on Twitter. The in-flight messaging system also included seat numbers, so she visited the men’s seats who’d harassed her and took pictures of them.
You can see her tweets here:
Yesterday I was on a @VirginAtlantic flight, and I unexpectedly received these sexually harassing messages on my screen (I was in 55C).— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 6, 2019
The flight attendants were helpful & dealt with it swiftly.
Have any other women had this happen to them?#metoo #cyberharassment @SCFGallagher pic.twitter.com/7tbVkRhpQp
Van Meir also mentioned that the flight attendants were very helpful and thoughtful, and quickly took care of the situation.
After a flight attendant approached the men, and Van Meir took pictures of them, Van Meir was also approached by another man, who apologized for the chat messages.
The man who approached her was the captain of a rugby team. All the men who messaged her were members of that same team.
The team captain tried to excuse their behavior by saying they had been drinking and he would talk to them later about their actions.
Van Meir’s photos on Twitter quickly caught the attention of the Twitterverse.
Many have jumped in to support her, and to point out how perfect of an example this is of women being harassed wherever they go.
I can't understand why anyone would harass someone like that. They act like they've never seen an attractive woman before. I bet they don't have daughters, because they'd be livid if someone spoke to their daughter like that. Keep your head up and stay strong.— Steven Pearce MBA, MPM (@BambinoPearce) October 8, 2019
Women are entitled to be free from unwanted sexual advances from men.Your thinking is the problem. A man who thinks women should be grateful creeps make advances towards them is 100% wrong & out of touch with reality. Women are to be respected ALL OF THE TIME. Men need to grow up— Penfanackapan (@Penfanackapan) October 8, 2019
Others also commented on the airline’s involvement, namely their use of a chat system.
Unbelievable. @Virgin -- why is 'seat chat' even a thing? If friends/family are separated, they can easily msg each other. Or, in this case, morons harassing complete strangers. Thank you for speaking out!— Kent (@kentbike1) October 8, 2019
I think the whole airline chat is a big mistake. It was only a matter of time before this happened.— Vegas Lady (@vegasldy313) October 7, 2019
I can't fathom why there's even an in-flight msg system to begin with, but if they continue this "service," you should have to opt-in to receive msgs.— Jonathan Sabin 🇺🇸🔭 (@cosmosjon) October 8, 2019
It is unconscionable that someone can sit there several rows back and send a series of harassing msgs
Van Meir soon followed up her original tweet with her thanks for the overwhelming support. She also noted that she hoped the airline would continue to work on new solutions that would keep situations like this from happening.
Virgin Atlantic sent Jessica Van Meir an apology via tweet and personal letter.
The airline tweeted:
“We were extremely concerned to hear of the incident reported on board one of our flights and are investigating as a matter of urgency. We want all of our customers to have the best possible experience when they fly with us and have zero tolerance for any disruptive or inappropriate behavior.”
Van Meir clarified in one of her follow-up tweets that she was not aiming to have the men punished or to make their names go public. Rather, she wanted the men to understand how their behavior was harmful and hoped that sharing this situation would improve on future social and airline interactions.
Though this situation didn’t escalate further, it’s a good example of how widespread sexual harassment remains even after #MeToo.
There is no question there’s still work to do.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We’re hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it when it goes live.
Here’s one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!