Get our free newsletter
Last week’s essay on groping in D.C., “Touch and Go: How Groping Happens,” inspired several readers to write in with their own experiences being touched without their consent. More ways groping happens—-from the unsolicited arm-over-the-shoulder to the assault from a new father-in-law, after the jump.
k writes about the unwanted touching that slips under the “groping” radar:
Can we also talk about dudes who put their arms around you, touching you in places that are pretty damn safe – shoulders, back, etc – but who are total strangers? I always find that weird – you’ll be sitting at the bar, and some guy just casually throws his arms over your shoulder. You look over, thinking it’s your friend, and then you realize you have no idea who this dude is. You shake him off, and then he’s mad—-he didn’t GROPE you, per se, so why are you freaking?
Just another way in which women’s bodies are considered public property.
jules is sick of being treated like a human doll:
I had a creepy groping experience in Chicago over the New Year weekend. I’m a very tiny girl . . . about 4 foot 11. A guy at the bar announced to me “You’re so small!” He then reached down, grabbed around my butt and lifted me into the air. I’ve actually had this happen on multiple occasions. It’s like, because I’m short, people think I’m a toy?
Also, I have huge boobs, and I’ve had random people (of both sexes) approach me, seemingly perplexed, and touch my breasts the same way someone might pat a pregnant lady’s belly. At the least when women touch my breasts, they usually ask first.
Jay was groped on her wedding day:
How about my father in law groping my ass on the day I’m marrying his son. Oh, and he’s a methodist minister involved in bringing all the world religions together. I was glad when his wife divorced him . . .
Dorothy knows a grope when she feels it:
To all those “it wasn’t intentional, it was accidental”-defenders: I can tell the difference between someone accidentally brushing up against me and groping me.
I have been gropend several times and most of those times the guys *squeezed* my ass. There’s no way that was accidental.
LangorousLass knows it when she hears it:
I can also tell the difference by the way the guy is breathing. If the touch is accidental, he’s breathing normally. If it’s deliberate, he’s breathing — well, like a guy who’s getting turned on. I can also sense him being tense and excited by the supposedly-”accidental” contact.
When this kind of touching has happened to me, sometimes I’ve been paralyzed by surprise and fear, as well as shame. (Women are taught to believe that if we’re sexually assaulted, it’s our fault — an attitude that’s reflected in plenty of the comments on this series.) When I’ve had enough presence of mind to react, though, what’s worked for me has been loudly pointing out what the guy is doing or just did. “You’re touching me. Stop touching me.”
Esz wishes she had punched her groper:
Usually women are too shocked to say anything about it right then and there. And I guess that is the groper’s power – the stealthy and quick assault. It’s happened to me and I was too shocked and sickened to do anything about it when in retrospect I should have turned around and punched the guy in the face.
curious wonders if that’s an effective strategy:
Okay, has any woman actually just turned around and clocked the guy? I’ve wanted to, many times, but never did because I worried I’d get arrested or something – because I fear that, to a bystander/witness (or police officer), a man groping is “normal” and a woman punching is “crazy, overreacting, dangerous bitch.”
Anyone actually try it, though? If so, what happened?
Nicola cops to punching her groper:
I did it once. I was in a club and some guy slapped my ass three or four times in quick succession. He had been dancing around behind our group making ass-slapping-during-sex gestures, etc., so I was already on alert, so I just did it. He held his hands up in an ‘I’m innocent’ kind of way, I summoned up the dirtiest look I’ve ever managed, then turned around and got on with enjoying myself. I noticed him a few more times that night, and he was behaving himself, so maybe it had an affect on him.
While truth is an advocate of the scream:
If the groping comes as a total surprise–if you happen not to be alert to the possibility, lost in thought or whatever–it is indeed easy to fail to respond sufficiently.
It’s worth considering practicing screaming very loud, in response. Screaming is a very natural response to any kind of startling, shocking behavior, but societal conventions serve to silence us in some public situations.
Take back the scream. Screaming can also serve the purpose of offering a very satisfying resolution to the inevitable obsessive replaying in one’s mind of the incident.
Scream, scream, scream.
Photo via Valerie Everett, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0