Does civility work?
April 19, 2010 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Unwanted butt grabbing of men by women

Men: How do you deal with women who repeatedly grab your butt at bars?

I've seen it, I've heard guys complain about it, why is it so frequently tolerated? If you don't tolerate it, how do you diffuse the situation?

While we're on topic, how do you women deal men who get grabby?
posted by Iggley to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sexual harassment is sexual harassment. Women deal with it depending on how safe they feel, so may not apply. Most aggressive way is to dump a drink on someone's head. Or yell "QUIT GRABBING MY ASS, GODDAMN IT".

Unsolicited ass-grabs are crossing the line, no matter who's doing it. Complain in any way short of physical violence that you feel comfortable with.
posted by emjaybee at 5:32 PM on April 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

What kinds of bars are you going to?! I have never seen this, I wouldn't do it, and I wouldn't tolerate it if it was done to me.
posted by amro at 5:45 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

What bars I still frequent these days are also frequented by beer guzzling 50 and 60 year old couldn't-give-a-damn Florida crackers (male and female). Flatulence stops a lot of butt grabbing in these circles, all around.
posted by paulsc at 5:47 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've never had my ass grabbed but I have had some guy rub his hand on my crotch in line at a fast food restaurant, of all places. My reaction was to say, "Don't fucking touch me" and the guy's response was, "I do what I want." I have no idea what to do in these situations. My usual reaction to verbal harassment is to completely ignore it, but I'm always so taken aback by physical assault that I never know how to react.

Actually, piggy backing off of Iggley's question, if anyone has any useful and adaptive advice on what to do in this situation, I'd like to hear it.
posted by superquail at 5:47 PM on April 19, 2010

"Don't do that".
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:50 PM on April 19, 2010

"Stop doing that" ?

I don't see that this is that big a deal in most cases if it's done by a woman to a man in a non-aggressive manner (note: not sexist, physical strength-ist). Calling people out in a gentle way gets results. A while ago a random and quite intoxicated young woman came up behind me while I was leaning on a bannister thing at a house party and bit my forearm, playfully but firmly. I turned around and said "I think you're looking for the kitchen, which is through the far door." She and others laughed and she left me alone, and I mostly forgot about it until I read this question.

My reaction was to say, "Don't fucking touch me" and the guy's response was, "I do what I want."

Call the cops and inform the nearest manager of the business. By contrast, this is threatening bad behavior and should be stopped. A kick to the balls would not be out of line, if you're feeling up to it and in a well-attended public area.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I saw a Samoan guy in Seattle lay a girl out who'd grabbed his ass in a club*. He turned, punched her square in the face, she went sailing back, bounced off a fire door and hit the floor. It took her a few seconds to get up again, whereupon she staggered away as fast as she could while the Samoan shouted at her to, "[NOT] FUCKING TOUCH [HIM]!"

I would submit that while this may not be the best way to conduct yourself in these situations, it was effective at making the offending girl stop. YMMV.

*well, the Showbox, which is more of a 'venue' really.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Five simple words: "My wife will cut you."
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:11 PM on April 19, 2010 [12 favorites]

The only place this has happened to me was in Manaus, Brazil. It has supposed reputation for very aggressive women due to gender imbalance in the city middle of Amazonian jungle. It's quite discerning...
posted by zeikka at 6:21 PM on April 19, 2010

I get this happening almost every time I go out. It's creepy, it's rude, and it makes me uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, it's the opinion of society that it's not as 'bad' as grabbing a womans boob. That said, I say you should react in exactly the same fashion: Glasses of water, yelling, reporting to the bouncers.

Don't put up with it. It's disrespectful and there are MUCH better ways of expressing a desire to shag you.

"Who the hell do you think you are, creep? Go crawl back to the dung heap you came from!" is probably the least physically involved, most offensive whilst not being overly agressive, that I get.
posted by Quadlex at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2010

"Fucking knock it off." What do you normally say to strangers who won't stop touching you?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Look them in the eye, tell them to cut that shit out and if they do it again, you'll get them kicked out of the bar for harrassment.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:50 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think many women will see you asking them to stop as flirting and wanting it more. Sigh. I can't improve upon anyone's advice for what to say, but you have my sympathy.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 6:56 PM on April 19, 2010

I don't see that this is that big a deal in most cases if it's done by a woman to a man in a non-aggressive manner (note: not sexist, physical strength-ist).

I don't see why the unwanted touching isn't bad enough in itself. Why does the person doing it need to have more "physical strength" than the other for it to be a problem? Anyway, not all women are physically weaker than all men, so, I'm sorry, but your comment is kind of sexist.

As for the question about how to respond, I would just sternly say "stop it." But I agree with BusyBusyBusy that, because of gender, this wouldn't necessarily be taken seriously. In this way, men's experience with this is arguably worse than women's (when it happens).

As for "why is it so frequently tolerated?" ... It's not considered as bad when it's woman against man than when the genders are the other way, and this is based on straight-up, traditional stereotypes. Men are supposed to be sex-crazed aggressors, so it's considered laughable if they would object to women sexually assaulting them. (The very idea of women sexually assaulting men isn't supposed to be a valid concept.) Women are the ones who are supposed to care about avoiding unwanted touching, so men who complain about it are emasculating themselves. You can see a similar phenomenon with the way people react totally differently to a grown woman having sex with an underage boy, than a grown man having sex with an underage girl of the same age (even though girls supposedly mature faster than boys). Any concern expressed about the former situation is laughed off, which is a convenient way to avoid thinking seriously about a problem. The only accepted comment is: "He can't complain -- he just got lucky!"
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:00 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a woman, but if I were a guy and some girl got grabby with me I would tell her as rudely as possible not to do that, and I'd probably throw a drink in her face just because people like that seem to think sexual harassment is cute and they need something to remember every time they get the urge. If you're just polite then they think they have nothing to lose by trying it, so they keep trying it; she'll leave you alone and grab some other guy later.

I'm not saying that's the most helpful reaction to have, but personally I wouldn't think less of a guy if I saw him do it. Physically striking a woman would probably make the guy look awful, regardless of whether it should be justified or not.
posted by Nattie at 7:07 PM on April 19, 2010

When this happens to me [at a blues bar, mostly], I do this:
[if possible] - grab the wrist;
turn around;
look her straight in the eyes;
tell her "If I did that to you, you would probably call the cops. This is the same thing. Please don't do that."

This works on people who aren't too drunk. When they are too drunk you will know before you start to speak. In that case I just say "NO" like they are a bad puppy and put some distance between us. Even ten feet is far enough.

Never hit, never yell, never waste a drink. You will come out looking like the bad guy for doing any of those things. If you can engage them in a conversation about why they think it's okay, they will probably remember that just as well as the one "asshole who threw a drink at me".
posted by Acari at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2010 [15 favorites]

It can be annoying, but life is full of things that are annoying, so to date I've just let it go. (It doesn't happen all that often at the kind of places I go to.
If someone was being a repeat offender, I'd diffuse by telling them that security will kick them out of the bar/club/whatever if they keep doing that, stop it. And physically (but not violently) parrying any "playfulness" and reinforcing the message until it sinks in.

Society these days has giant banhammers at the disposal of anyone getting groped, the balance of power is so hugely against the person in the wrong that it's not something that really bothers me when it happens to me. Powerlessness to help myself bothers me. But when I get groped, I have so much power over the situation that there is nothing to worry about, beyond the brief moment of nuisance factor. So it's easy to take it easy.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:40 PM on April 19, 2010

I knew a woman who would snatch the groper's wrist, hold it up in the air, and shout, "DID ANYONE LOSE A HAND? I FOUND IT ON MY ASS!"

This was primarily on public transit. I don't see why it wouldn't work with grabby women as well as grabby men!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:07 PM on April 19, 2010 [17 favorites]

Thank you all for the perspective. I have to apologize though, I asked the question, then left for several hours not realizing that the OP does make it sound like I'm a male posting about a personal problem. Correction, I am female, this happens to my boyfriend sometimes when I'm not there. Annoys him, really bothers me. I wanted perspective from other men, and that's just what you've given me. Thank you.
In answer to what kind of bar it is, most recently it was at a bar hosting a drag show, and the offenders were members of a bachelorette party (sp?). He felt that making a fuss would just garner a lot of loud/hostile attention.
Thank you all for your advice. I can't really pass it on since he didn't ask for the help, but it sure gives me something to think about, especially if I'm ever in that situation. I really hope I'm not making you feel like you're answers were a waste of time.
posted by Iggley at 9:37 PM on April 19, 2010

Another thing that is really helpful in these situations - stick up for each other. You see someone else getting their ass grabbed that clearly doesn't want it - march up the the grabber and tell them to knock it off. It's amazing how fast a grabber will split when they see it's not just them preying on a single victim, but are up against 2 people. Don't let anyone face harassment alone.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:30 AM on April 20, 2010

I actually became accustomed to this while in a cowboy bar in northern california. No its not the california...its the cowboy bar that did it.

I had become as accustomed to it, as I had of guys who accidentally or maybe even consciously like to shoulder bump in tight cramped places where everyone is trying to walk. I just continued on my way without even turning back.

Then one time, I brought a girl with me...and it stopped. Nothing at all.

Bring a girl. Ask her to be mostly bark...and I guarantee it won't happen...while you're with her.

Thats the ONLY thing that worked. Also, at this was socially acceptable for the women to do it...nobody ever did anything because they got their ass pinched ( slapping or grabbing, it was all pinching).

I did once see a guy get kicked down a fligh of about 25 stairs by a bouncer because he called a girl a "fucking hench". Yes, a hench. So yeah...places where its acceptable for women to do that, are totally wierd.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:40 AM on April 20, 2010

The single most useful advice I ever got from my father is, "if someone does something to you that you don't like in public, get LOUD. That way, everyone knows what's going on. Never be embarassed."
So, someone grabs your butt, grab her wrist to stop her look her straight in the eye and say, "STOP GRABBING MY ASS RIGHT NOW, I DON'T KNOW YOU." You will probably get some amount of mouthing back about your lack of humour or whatever but that's just bravado. In any case, repeat the "stop it" message until it stops.
I suppose men will have more compunctions about sounding girly, or on the other hand sounding like a big mean bully. But find whatever form of "stop it" sounds manly enough for you and use it.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:39 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

respond in kind. hard.
posted by krautland at 2:27 AM on April 20, 2010

I agree it's a silly thing to do...however this has happened to me a couple of times and the girl was shy and immature...maybe her friends dared her to do it. If this is the case I don't think aggression and sexual harassment suits are in order. Also, it is different if girls do it to guys..just is. I'd just say firmly 'don't do that I don't like it'
posted by Not Supplied at 3:01 AM on April 20, 2010

Not being judgemental here, but my take on it is that if it's the kind of place where if you report it to the management, nothing will get done about it because that's the kind of atmosphere the place encourages - then you're in the wrong bar. The rest of the patrons are comfortable with it. You're not. So leave.

But also, yeah, maybe holler something loudly about "What kind of nasty skank are you?!? Keep your disgusting hands off me!"

And if a man grabs me, I either hit/kick him, douse him with pepper spray, or inform them loudly that if he touches me again, I'm going to rip his balls off and shove them down his throat. (This is best said with the kind of crazy look in your eye that makes them think that you're just possible nuts enough to do it.) But then, I have a zero-tolerance policy.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:03 AM on April 20, 2010

I don't see why you can't show him this thread if it's a problem for him and you think the advice would be helpful.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:30 AM on April 20, 2010

I wouldn't say it's a chronic problem for me, but it definitely happens. In the instances where the contact was actually unwanted, Acari's criteria for what to do has proved to be precisely correct.
posted by cmoj at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2010

Eyebrows McGee: I knew a woman who would snatch the groper's wrist, hold it up in the air, and shout, "DID ANYONE LOSE A HAND? I FOUND IT ON MY ASS!"

I wonder if she got that from Tulip O'Hare in Garth Ennis' Preacher, or vice versa? This exact scene was illustrated in a panel in Preacher as Tulip recounts why she was fired after one night as a waitress.
posted by WCityMike at 2:55 PM on April 20, 2010

"I wonder if she got that from Tulip O'Hare in Garth Ennis' Preacher, or vice versa?"

I'm unfamiliar with it, but I first heard her tell the story in about 1994, if that helps with the dating. Of course, it's a good line so it's possible clever people came up with it independently, or it's possible they're both taking from an older source, if not from one another. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:28 PM on April 20, 2010

Eyebrows McGee: I first heard her tell the story in about 1994, if that helps with the dating.

Well, it was in one of the first issues, and the series ran '95-'00. But I imagine that saying is just one of the ones that's floated around in the collective groupthink. Great series, by the way; grab it from the library when you have a moment.
posted by WCityMike at 5:50 PM on April 20, 2010

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