“I am the women inspector, checking there’s only women on this carriage,” Australian vlogger Turan Spidey cheekily proclaimed as he entered a women-only train carriage in Japan. Little did he know the backlash his TikTok video would provoke.
Spidey likely expected his antic to amuse his 350,000+ followers. Instead, it sparked outrage. “You literally made the whole train uncomfortable by not following the rules written IN HUGE LETTERS,” one commenter fumed. Multiple people urged him to leave the country immediately.
So why do the Japanese railways reserve certain cars for women only? The answer lies in the country’s longstanding issues with men inappropriately touching female passengers. After a record number of groping incidents in 2004, Japan introduced women-only carriages to give women a safe transit space.
The concept isn’t unique to Japan. India, Egypt, Brazil, and other countries have implemented similar train cars. But Spidey clearly underestimated their social significance in Japan.
By barging into a women-only carriage, Spidey reinforced the very behavior these spaces aim to prevent. “They created that space for their safety, and instead of respecting that, you decided to violate that,” another TikToker admonished.
Spidey’s video reminded Japanese women that even spaces designed for their protection may not shield them from entitled intruders. And it communicated utter disrespect for societal norms.
Perhaps Spidey simply longed to impress his followers without considering potential harm. But ignorance isn’t an excuse. Visitors to a foreign country have an obligation to learn about and respect local customs.
After the intense backlash, Spidey will likely think twice before questioning why women-only cars still exist in an advanced country like Japan. Because the answer is clear: to give women some modicum of defense against harassment so prevalent that sex-segregated spaces feel essential.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Spidey’s blunder sparked constructive discussion about the ongoing need for women’s safe spaces worldwide. His video offers a teachable moment for us all.