Margaret Jacobsen, a queer, non-binary writer who uses they/them pronouns, was on their honeymoon in November, when the Caribbean cruise operated by Norwegian Cruise Line that was meant to be a celebration of love turned into an uncomfortable nightmare.
On Twitter this week, Jacobsen described an ugly incident in which they were groped by a drunken woman who had been inappropriately touching several other people over the course of one night at the ship’s nightclub. “I felt hands running down my chest, lingering on my breasts and my nipples,” Jacobsen tweeted, adding that other passengers who witnessed the incident approached them immediately afterward to ask if they were okay.
I just returned from an 11 day cruise on @CruiseNorwegian. While I had fun, I want to talk about my experience when I reported a woman for molesting me on the ship.
This is an example of why people don’t go to the police.
— Margaret Jacobsen (@margejacobsen) December 3, 2018
But it was when Jacobsen tried to report the unwanted sexual contact to the ship’s security staff that things went from bad to worse.
“The security chief made me feel like I was the one in the wrong, like he didn’t seem to understand consent at all,” Jacobsen told INTO in a Tuesday phone interview. “I had to convince him why it was not appropriate for someone to think they have the right to put their hands on my nipples.”
Requests for comment emailed to Norwegian Cruise Line’s press office did not receive a response by deadline.
Jacobsen said Norwegian Star security officer Tim Gregory responded to the report by repeatedly dismissing the allegations and blaming the victim.
“He suggested that maybe she was a tactile person, that maybe because she drank it escalated things and perhaps I was drinking too (I was sober cause my husband didn’t buy us the drink package), that if this couple was such a problem why hasn’t he heard about it before,” Jacobsen tweeted.
The security officer suggested, Jacobsen said, that maybe they were paranoid and misread the situation — despite a second person also filing a complaint about being groped by the same person.
“He then said: because it’s a woman it doesn’t hold the same weight as if it had been a man,” Jacobsen wrote on Twitter.
After posting the details in a Twitter thread, Jacobsen said they spoke to someone from the cruise company on the phone and filed another complaint. The company told them an investigation was underway.
Parts of the groping incident were caught on security cameras, Jacobsen said.
But the bigger issue for them is the way the complaint was handled by the company’s security staff, who dismissed the inappropriate sexual touching because the culprit was a woman.
“The MeToo movement is important but it didn’t stop anything,” Jacobsen told INTO. “It’s still such a thing to tell people who are assaulted that it didn’t happen or maybe they did something wrong.”