Female Subway Rider Recounts Brave Course of Action

Kirstie in Brooklyn crowns latest compilation by The New York Times of its top reader comments.

One tried-and-true way to measure the impact of a newspaper reader comment is to look at the discussion it provoked in that thread. Another is to find a comment listed in a brand new weekly New York Times feature.

On both fronts, Kirstie in Brooklyn has scored, sparking a lively debate in connection with the Feb. 22 article Renewed Efforts to Stop Subway Sex Crimes by Metro reporter (and F train rider) Emma G. Fitzsimmons, and ranking at No. 6 in the Feb. 27 edition of the paper’s Our Best Comments of the Week:

Ladies, just do what I did in 2011… A man decided to masturbate in front of me mid-day on the R train. There were even other passengers on the car. When the doors opened at the next stop (after I had yelled at him and shamed him in front of everyone else) he fled. So, I pursued him, tackled him, and held him for 10 minutes until the police arrived. When the police came, they were hesitant to handle the situation appropriately until I insisted they arrest him. This behavior must stop, and women must feel empowered to take matters into their own hands.

Intriguingly, the Times reader ranked directly above Kirstie at No. 5, AR in New York, is also one of the people who separately responded to her comment and engaged with her in further discussion. As you might imagine, opinion is divided on whether the course of action chosen is feasible or too dangerous for others to follow.

We must also commend article reader Socrates, from Verona, N.J., for framing in the comments Kirstie’s 2011 heroism within the familiar parlance of today’s ubiquitous multiplex and comic book superheros:


Look, up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
It’s Superwoman!
Faster than a streak of lightning,
More powerful than a masturbating punk,
Mightier than the NYPD,

This amazing lady from the planet Kickass, the woman of steel, Superwoman. Possessing remarkable physical strength, Superwoman fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild-mannered subway rider named Kirstie.

The Times launched Our Best Comments of the Week on Feb. 20. Highlighted selections are chosen by readers as well as Times journalists; the feature is curated by the paper’s community editor Bassey Etim.