According to the Times, C.K. allegedly masturbated in front of several women without their consent. In light of the allegations, writer Eve Peyser took to Twitter to ask people, "[W]hen's the first time a man jerked off in front of you without your consent?" Peyser also shared her own story, writing, "I'll go first: when I was 12, a man on the L train jerked off in front of me and my friends."
Within the hour, hundreds of people began replying to her tweet, opening up about their stories. An overwhelming amount of people shared stories about men masturbating in front of them on public transit, in cars, in friends' homes, and more.
Masturbating in front of people without consent is sadly common, and C.K. isn't even the first famous man to be accused of doing it — in October, journalist Lauren Sivan told The Huffington Post that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had told her to "stand there and shut up" while he masturbated and ejaculated into a potted plant.
While this behavior may seem inexplicable, sex therapist Alexandra Katehakis recently told The Cut that men who engage in this form of assault may do so because "a more violent act would make him a rapist. He might not want to think of himself that way, or be seen that way. If he just masturbates, he can tell himself that he’s not strong-arming anybody."
Nonetheless, it's a form of assault that Peyser thinks happens en masse, and it's something that many of us might not have thought of as assault or harassment until recently.
"I've had a guy jerk off in front of me, and, at least among women, it seems like such a normalized experience," she tells Refinery29.
"I didn't even really think about it until now, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about people's experiences, because there are going to be so many people that this happened to," she says about starting the Twitter thread. "I wanted to demonstrate that it's happened to somebody you know. There are all these really fucked up behaviors that people haven't thought was a big deal until now."
Peyser hopes that now that we're coming to realize and speak out about just how wrong this behavior is, this conversation can continue, and that it can shift cultural attitudes about rape and misogyny.
Read ahead for 15 people's stories about the first time a man masturbated in front of them without their consent.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).