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Published in: July-August 2017 issue.

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This Seat Is Taken In Mexico City there are separate subway cars and busses for men and women, a measure designed to protect women from men’s unwanted advances. A new campaign takes a more indirect tack, using graphic persuasion to get the message across: a seat molded to resemble a male torso and anatomically complete pelvic region. Above it reads the message: “It is uncomfortable to sit here, but that is nothing compared to the sexual violence that women suffer on their daily journeys.” The “penis seat” has had the intended shock value, provoking much controversy in the media. Whether it has cut down on sexual harassment is unclear. Some might argue that the seat is suggestive in a way that could actually give some people ideas. And who knows whether some men—and women—might find the ride in that seat not uncomfortable at all? Some might even think it improves their daily journeys. For them, alas, the seats are not a permanent fixture but only a temporary campaign to make women feel safer. Maybe.