The title of this article may sound aggressive – and it is – but if anything, it’s more of retaliation. I know it has been a problem for women all over the world for many years but, quite frankly, I have had enough of being groped.
I have recently become single and seem to be emitting some sort of ‘yes, pervy men of the planet please touch me up’ vibe. In the past, I would say I’ve been groped a ‘normal’ amount (i.e. a few bum grabs and hip strokes) but, as of late, every time I come back from a night out I have at least one insane groping story to tell.
The first incident resulted in a guy with his arms wrapped around me whilst I was trying to squirm out of his grasp before one of the kisses he was planting on my cheeks mysteriously landed on my lips. This is the sort of situation that, in the past, my friends and I would have judgementally claimed was ‘brought upon herself’. However, I was fully innocent. My friend had taken a while to be let into the club and in the meantime a guy had attached himself to me as I sat on the sofa minding my own business, pretending to be checking my phone (when, in reality, I was desperately willing people I knew to walk in). Long story short – this guy sat next to me, told me I was beautiful and he was falling in love with me (I kid you not) and started begging for a kiss – despite the fact I’d made up a fictional boyfriend who was going to arrive in any second. Needless to say, my friends were pretty concerned when they walked in and saw the deathly scene of me struggling in this guy’s grasp whilst his friend sat next to me and laughed. How is this okay? The truth is that it isn’t. Yes, this guy seemed perfectly nice but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I had not permitted him to touch me in this way. Also, the fact that his friend thought this was acceptable behaviour when I was so visibly distressed is pretty sinister. Oh, and did I mention that they weren’t drunk?
On the same night I was just ‘dancing’ (if you’ve ever seen me on the dance floor, you’ll know that it’s more comedy than dance) and a guy beckoned me over.
(See image: it was a bit like this)
Assuming we knew each other from somewhere, I went over to see what he wanted (rookie error number 1). He then asked for my phone (strike two) and he spent the next 5 minutes finding himself on Facebook and sending a request. Just for good measure, he also added his number and name to my phone. Yeah sure, no harm done. I mean, I’ve never spoken to this guy before but whatever. So, as I’m about to walk off to return to my friends, HE KISSES ME ON THE LIPS. I’m sorry, what? I definitely didn’t expect or permit this.
My main problem with the groping and the inappropriateness is that, if this was the cool light of day and we were in uni, none of these guys would even dare to do this. They wouldn’t even think about it. In fact, it wouldn’t even be a joke that guys and their mates would make whilst watching a girl in lycra on the treadmill in The Edge.
Okay, so the above two examples are my ‘party pieces’ if you will. I’ll retell them amongst friends and acquaintances as an example, get a few laughs – no harm done. However, I’ve had my fair share of somewhat darker experiences. The first of which occurred in the same night club as the previous two events took place (which will remain nameless because, despite these altercations, it’s still my favourite place to go in Leeds). I had been at a ball so was slightly more dressed up than usual; I was also sober as I had an assessed presentation at 10am the next day. I had just arrived at the club and was on the dance floor with a group of girl friends when a guy starts chatting to me. I always choose to be civil because it’s not good to be rude. After a few minutes, I saw where the conversation was going and dropped my trump card that I was in a happy, committed relationship and it was nice to meet him but I wasn’t interested. This line usually works a treat and results in my new male friend being sent on their way in search of different prey. Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t quite enough for this guy. He said ‘okay’ and carried on, all the while getting closer and closer, to the point where I had to whirl my head round in the hope I could avoid an attacking kiss. After what seemed like an eternity, I scrambled off in search of another set of friends at the same club but then felt a grab on my arm and a sinister whisper of ‘Where are you going? Do you not like me?’. ‘Oh great’, I thought, ‘another weird’ one’. Of course, I laughed off his question, but I felt his eyes on me for the whole night and his presence never far away. As the night wore on, I realised I felt scared to do anything – to talk to anyone else, to tell my friends this guy was stalking me and most of all, scared to go home in case he followed me.
I know this doesn’t sound like the worst thing that could happen on a night out and, believe me, it certainly isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to me, but it ruined my entire night. Not feeling safe is not something I’m used to and I genuinely feared what this man would do if I told him the truth that I wanted him to jog on.
I would love to say that when I’m out with my boyfriend or guy friends that it keeps the pervs at bay but unfortunately, it does not. Over the summer, I was out in a crowded bar in London and I felt a hand go across my back, assuming that it was the hand of the guy I was with (as he was standing directly behind me with his arm around me). A few seconds later, my friend says ‘who was that?’. Confused, I replied saying ‘obviously you’. A flash of anger stormed across his face when he realised another guy had touched me. All through the night he would bring it up about how jealous he was that this happened, that someone thought they could touch me like that when it was clear that we were together. Now this throws the whole argument on its head. So some guys think its okay to touch women inappropriately but others don’t? I have established that it isn’t all guys and even other men think that gropers are disgusting perverts. So why do they do it? They don’t even have the excuse that it makes them look cool in front of their friends because the majority of guys I’ve spoken to, including past boyfriends, say that even if they were out-of-their-minds-drunk and single, they’ve never even thought of groping someone.
A couple of people will be reading this and thinking well, what were you wearing? Where were you? How drunk were you?’ Etc etc. Seriously, in this day and age? Why do any of these things matter and how did they even become questions related to this topic in the first place?! What I wear and what I choose to do whilst I’m out is my prerogative. Unsurprisingly, being groped isn’t one of them.