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Are you staring comfortably?

A new campaign on public transport risks policing thoughtcrimes

There are eyes on public transport in London now. Quite literally,  eyeballs, printed on a poster from the British Transport Police. This pair of eyes call on passengers to report anyone who might be doing the very thing that makes the poster so off-putting. Staring.    

As a 20-something-year-old female who frequents public transport, I find myself somewhat conflicted. I can recall several horror stories of being at the receiving end of an unnerving stare. Sometimes it’s the precursor for highly embarrassing and unwelcome gestures that have, on occasion, seen me take my chances by dashing off at an unknown stop. Our culture has become so hyper-sexualised that even a distanced encounter — in broad daylight, wrapped up in layers of winter coats — can feel violating.

But at the same time, the criminalisation of a stare does also give me cause for concern. Not least because I for one have been known to switch off my brain on a long commute and stare intensely into the distance — a distance in this case, at least, limited to one meter across in a carriage crammed with strangers. Perhaps my age and gender would excuse me from being accused of anything untoward regarding my gaze. But what about others who accidentally look a little bit too long?” writes Lois McLatchie in The Critic. Read the full article here

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