File this one under things we hope don’t fall into the wrong hands: Those Women Only train cars in Japan aren’t actually enforceable under the law.
All foreign men in Japan can recount their first harrowing experience of obliviously stepping onto a train, only to find that literally every single other passenger was a woman. There’s a moment of confusion and, if you’re lucky, a good Samaritan politely explaining that wieners don’t belong here, followed by the terrible realization that you’ve broken not only an official rule set forth by the train company but also an unwritten social rule, which is kind of almost worse. But, from here on out, you can rest assured that even though you’re committing a social taboo, you’re not breaking any laws!
Most of the time, women-only cars are effective during peak traffic times only – typically in the early morning hours and sometimes in the evening for the after-work rush – and are designed to prevent groping incidents perpetrated by disgusting individuals that for some reason enjoy non-consensual sexual contact.
Still, for reasons that are difficult for us to fathom, a small subsection of “Men’s Rights” guys in Japan take particular offense to the existence of women-only train cars, arguing that it somehow singles out all men as potential gropers/rapists. As if being a man wasn’t already a pretty cushy gig, these guys for some reason want in on the one last refuge women have available to them to escape the groping hands of men on their morning commutes.
One of the main arguments coming from this group is that women-only cars aren’t legally enforceable because it’s technically a gender-discriminatory practice. While that’s true, it’s one of those things we’re probably all better off quietly accepting – since, you know, men not being able to ride one particular train car at limited times during the day isn’t going to kill anybody.
On the other hand, the women only cars do have a tendency of concentrating the gross, pervy old men in the adjacent cars, which is just bad news for everybody.
Regardless of your personal opinions about women-only cars, they are a tried-and-true deterrent for sexual assault and have existed in Japan for longer than you might imagine: As early as 1912. So, if you’re a man that’s for some reason feeling outraged about not being able to take train car number five between the times of 8 and 10 a.m., keep in mind the practice has been around for a long time. Oh, and do everybody a favor and bike to work.