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Mark Atwood
Unwanted touching by a stranger
This past weekend, I went to a live showing of "The Clumsy Lovers" at a local venue, the Tractor.

As the show was going, one particular woman kept crossing back and forth the audience area, and every time she passed behind me, she would put her hand on my elbow or on the small of my back.

At first I thought she was just working her way through the crowd, but after the 3rd or so time it happened, I looked back quickly enough, and noticed that there was no "crowd", she was just specifically touching me as she passed.

She did it a couple more times, even as I tried to avoid it, until I finally ended up standing or sitting with my back to walls and pillars, so that nobody could come up behind me.

When I mentioned it to a friend who also was there, he asked "she cute?". No, she wasn't, and that should be beside the point anyway.

If we gender-flip the situation, if I as a man kept touching and following one particular uninterested woman there, she would have rightly made a fuss, and the bouncer would have ejected me. But as things were and are, there was nothing at all to be gained by me doing anything other than keeping my back to the wall, and being glad that my long heavy oilskin trenchcoat was keeping my skin covered and protected.

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/843262.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
7 comments or Leave a comment
faerieburst From: faerieburst Date: November 29th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why didn't you say something to her? Her behaviour was inappropriate and unwanted, why not convey that to her? I find directly addressing the person usually has the result I want.

fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: November 30th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
The honest answer is that I was stunned and incredulous that it was happening, it was a loud venue, and she was always gone by the time I felt it.

I've not had the sadly extensive practice in fending off unwanted touch that entirely too many woman have had to have.
awfief From: awfief Date: November 29th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
While you are correct, the bouncer would only have ejected you if it was brought to the bouncer's attention. As a woman I can tell you that these things don't just magically happen. You have to say something to her or the bouncer, or be really really obvious that her touch is bothersome (like, give a small gasp, turn around and whisper "you scared me!")
From: abrichar Date: November 29th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Agreed, but...

I think the "you scared me" is a bit ambiguous and can even be construed as flirting by the clueless. I'm more a fan of "don't touch me". No question there.
awfief From: awfief Date: November 30th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Agreed, but...

True, however when I do that then the offender tends to get all huffy saying "WELL I'M SORRY I DIDN'T MEAN TO OFFEND YOU" -- even when they are playing a game.

I've found that if I initially let them know I am aware of their action, most (say, 75%) of them stop whatever it is they're doing. Either because they realize I'm onto them, or perhaps all they wanted was that little bit of attention. If the behavior continues I say "I'm not comfortable with you doing that" and then they either stop (most of the time) or try to get me to explain why (ARGH). If the latter, I just say "It's private; just stop doing that."

cinema_babe From: cinema_babe Date: November 30th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Ugh, how creepy.

I'm with everyone else, though. I would have politely but firmly asked her to stop touching me. With men who do that sort of thing will generally stop as soon as they get called on it. I suspect that (regardless of gender) there is a feeling of power that someone gets from doing this.
singingnettle From: singingnettle Date: November 30th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's weird. Ugh.
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