This must be, like, seventeenth-wave feminism.
November 12, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Women of AskMe, what does pinching a man's ass mean and/or how should one react to such an event?

I, a not-particularly-attractive man, have had the experience over the last few years of having what I believe to be women pinching my buttocks. As much as this is enjoyable to me, I am completely at a loss to understand what this means and what subsequent actions I should take. I'll admit up-front that I'm not exactly the smoothest or most confident individual, and besides the fact that I'm quite tall, I don't really have much of an attractive visual appeal. Yet, it has happened, several times in college and several times since (including tonight) that women or groups of women have taken it upon themselves to pinch my buttocks in an apparent expression of interest in me. My problem is that I am awful at talking to people in general, and particularly at schmoozing with strangers of the opposite sex. Hypothetically, if you were to pinch the buttocks of a man, what actions would you potentially expect the pinchee to take and what would be preferable?

I await your response.

Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Really it depends on context, ie. who was the pincher, what is your relationship to them, where were you/ what were you doing at the time? Do you have a particularly cute butt? Do you bend down a lot or stick your bum out unusually far when sitting? What do the women who pinch your ass do next? Do they giggle with their friend and walk off?

I only pinch my boyfriend's bum but if complete strangers are pinching your bum and walking off, I would say you have a nice ass, you do something to draw attention to it (tight pants/bending down etc) and you're otherwise non-threatening.
posted by missmagenta at 8:21 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think it means something along the lines of "I like your butt."
posted by oceanjesse at 8:24 AM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

It probably isn't a good idea to pinch back, but that's up to you to gauge.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:25 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah on my planet if a guy I didn't know pinched my butt I'd be zipping through an entire encyclopedia of context clues to try to figure out what he meant by it to determine if I needed to run, sock him, giggle, say "wtf?", introduce myself or what. It's not one of those things that has a clear message and it IS one of those things that is very problematic in some contexts. For example, in most workplaces this is not okay regardless of the genders of the people involved (thought people might overlook the inappropriate nature of it in your gendered situation because people are weird).

If it were me and I was thinking that someone was doing it to flirt and I was possibly interested in that, I think I'd just turn around, smile and say "Hey..." and let them take it from there.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry to be crass here, you have a nice ass? You say you are not attractive, but you may be overlooking some eye-appealing backside. Just a thought.

If I were to do this (and I would only do this in very narrow circumstances, as it's a rather forward, bold and crushingly familiar thing to do), I'd expect a reaction of some sort. A word or movement of surprise, a flirty sounding "Hey!" or a coy question of "Just what do you think you're doing there, [non-sexist diminutive of choice]?" Which would then allow me to explain myself further, probably with no-bones-about-it, on-record, shameless flirting. The good news for shy, surprised you here is this: the pincher has the lead, the owner of the pinched-butt just needs to follow.

Like I said, it's a bold thing to do.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:30 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

If I was bold enough to pinch a guy's cute butt, the best thing I would hope for is he would turn around and, if he liked well enough the looks of me, would say something like "Hey, there's more where that came from, want to go for coffee?" or some other jokey but "yes interested" line. If he saw me and did NOT like what he saw, I'd hope for something that wouldn't totally crush me for being so bold; something like staring puzzled off into the distance or a "Sorry, didn't mean to bump you".
posted by The otter lady at 8:34 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Probably nothing. Sometimes me and my friends do this. Usually when quite drunk. We just do it for fun, it doesn't mean anything, and we dont usually chose guys we are particularly attracted to, just whoever is convenient.
posted by catatethebird at 8:40 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Wow I would never do this in public but I like the otter lady's suggestion of laying a jokey pick-up line on them and asking them out. What they are doing is so foward they should be the embarassed ones not you if they decline.
posted by boobjob at 8:41 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

These women who are pinching your butt: do you know them? Are you in relationships with them? Dating? Or are they just random, ass-grabbing women?

If people you don't know are coming up to you and pinching your butt, I think that's a sign that there's something wrong with them. I mean, who does that?! It's completely inappropriate! If a random man pinched a woman's butt, everyone would be up in arms over it! If I, a woman, pinched an unknown man's butt, I would expect him to turn around and be all "wtf is wrong with you."

On the other hand, if you know these women and have been in relationships/actively flirting with them, it just means, "I like your butt."

Feel free to tell people not to pinch your butt if you don't enjoy it. It's your butt.
posted by phunniemee at 8:47 AM on November 12, 2011 [20 favorites]

I mean, who does that?!

Well in my day they were called Ladettes ;)
posted by missmagenta at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a woman but the "groups of women" thing makes me picture the following scenario:

Woman A: Hey, cute butt!
Woman B: Dare you to pinch it!
Woman A: What!? I couldn't...
Women B through D: Do it! Do it!

In which case I think the response they are hoping for is that your monocle pops out and lands in your tea.
posted by RobotHero at 8:59 AM on November 12, 2011 [30 favorites]

I would have to be pretty drunk to goose a random dude, but if I did, I would want him to turn around and acknowledge me. "Why hello there!" in a smooth voice would be a good start. Be ready to flirt with the gooser!
posted by jabes at 9:02 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you thought of simply turning around and asking, "So why did you pinch my butt?" If you are OK with the behavior, that's fine. Personally, male or female, I think that grasping buttocks is too intimate for casual conversation, but it may be a generational difference.
posted by medea42 at 9:05 AM on November 12, 2011

Women of AskMe, what does pinching a man's ass mean
It means someone with very little class has decided to sexually harass you. Really, as Phunniemee
said, who does this? If the genders were reversed here, all hell would be breaking out. That said, it also depends on what country you're in.

and/or how should one react to such an event?
A rude stare at the offending person, and then go look for someone with some class.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:07 AM on November 12, 2011 [13 favorites]

Say "hi" and let them take it from there. I'm guessing it's a flirting thing, and it sounds like you're not confident but you're into that, so, yeah, just say hi.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:13 AM on November 12, 2011

This used to happen to me all the time (waaaay back when I was still young and thin). Always in crowds, usually at a party or in a school hallway.

I too was at a loss. I wanted to know who did it, but the pincher was always sneaky enough to get away with it anonymously. So then what are you supposed to do? Stand there and look goofy I suppose. I figured I'd just take it as a compliment.

But yeah, bit of a double standard going on there. I never considered it "sexual harassment" and it never made me feel angry/violated, but at the same time I never would have dared to do that to a woman. Meh. I still don't care. Hell, I'd love to get pinched today; but now I'm old and fat, women don't even know I exist.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:19 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If a man that I was not dating pinched my but, my response would be punch him. That is very offensive. But you are a man and these are women doing it. If you are interested in the pincher then the proper response would be to turn around, take her in your arms and kiss her for all you are worth.
If you are not interested, then just walk away.
Don't underestimate yourself. Women are attracted to all types of men. A tall man who is polite and soft spoken, kind of quiet, always gets women's attention. We find you mysterious. It is difficult for a woman to make the first move. Most women are more subtle than pinching. Here are a few clues as to whether or not a woman is interested in you:

She touches her hair or face when talking to you.
She touches you when talking to you.
She asks you for advice on how to fix something.
She blushes and says really stupid things when you are around.

One step away from pinching, I've seen many women (mostly in clubs) do the boob rub. It's crowded so nice guys assume it's an accident but women are pretty protective of our boobs, we don't accidently rub them on someone's arm. So, if you are in a crowded area and a woman brushes her chest against your back or arm, then she is interested in sex with you.
posted by myselfasme at 9:24 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Turn around, wink, and keep going wherever you were going.

If they were joking around, the wink is you going along with the joke. If they were genuinely expressing an appreciation for your buttocks, a wink is you saying, "thanks!" If you are imagining all this rampant buttock grabbing, a wink might make them think you're a bit forward, but not make much of it.
posted by Pwoink at 9:26 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

"traditionally, you would buy me drink first, but for you I'll make an exception. My name is anonymous, what's yours?"
posted by plinth at 9:28 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I generally only pinch the butt of gentlemen I am dating.

BUT I could imagine doing so, if a bit drunk and if I knew someone and was into him and we had a playful relationship and I was trying to get him to notice me sexually. It sounds like these encounters, though, are with women you don't know well or at all.

Depending on the outcome YOU want, and assuming this is a pretty low-stakes flirtation situation:

1. What was that? Did you pinch my butt? Why did you pinch my butt? What the hell is that?
2. It's only fair that I should get to pinch you back at a time and place of my choosing. I'll need your phone number to coordinate my reciprocation. (then set up a coffee or drinks date)
3. Um. I should tell you I have butt cooties. You should have worn gloves when you pinched me.

A smile will make these flirtatious. Not smiling, especially for 1 and 3, will result in the woman in question probably leaving you alone.
posted by bunderful at 9:43 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Thank you, I'm glad you like my buns of steel. I'm "anonymous", and as a gentleman, I'd prefer to know your name before you examine them further" (make sure you have a smile, and possibly a raised eyebrow)

[Hint: Where men are often labeled "breast", "legs" and so on types, women can be like stereotyped into "bum", "shoulders (i.e. broad backed / well muscled)" and so on. You might think you're nothing special, but she might have carnal urges towards your tight tush. Self-confidence is far sexier than you might imagine.]
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 9:45 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

- Most likely you have a nice ass
- people also are generally attracted to tall people (+10 charisma points when you originally
rolled your character, bonus!!!)
- you are probably more attractive, both physically and personality-wise than you think
- the women are probably slightly drunk
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's all about the monocles and tea, and usually impulsive unless you are around a lot of strangely grab assy women.
Encourage and discourage them at will.
I'm not into random ass grabbery, but I wouldn't put it past me completely. If I did it, I'd expect a reaction.
posted by provoliminal at 10:24 AM on November 12, 2011

OP, normally I would say that this is a woman who is attracted to you and has been made a little bolder by drinking just enough to think this is the way to show it. So, turning and smiling with one of the flirtatious comments above would be the way to go, if you are attracted to the woman in question. If you aren't, maybe a raised brow and a "You didn't really just pinch my butt, did you?" should do the trick to get them to back off.

Probably nothing. Sometimes me and my friends do this. Usually when quite drunk. We just do it for fun, it doesn't mean anything, and we dont usually chose guys we are particularly attracted to, just whoever is convenient.

I'm all for fun and flirtatious, but this is just wrong. You do not have the right to treat people like shit because you're drunk!

If one of those men you 'weren't particularly attracted to' acted on it and tried to ask you out, what would you do? Turn him down flat in the midst of your giggling girlfriends and sail away, while he stands there, crushed and embarrassed? You make the rest of look bad with that crap. Knock it the hell off.
posted by misha at 10:26 AM on November 12, 2011 [16 favorites]

If a woman who I had no established relationship with, and who wasn't exchanging those context clues jessamyn mentioned, pinched my butt I'd be seriously offended. If someones idea of even introducing themselves for flirting involves invading your boundaries that is a big red flag that they will continue to not respect your boundaries.

If the butt pinching seems to be in good faith with plausible context and this is a thing you are into and want to encourage Cheradine Zakalwe's line will probably go a long way. But this,

"Probably nothing. Sometimes me and my friends do this. Usually when quite drunk. We just do it for fun, it doesn't mean anything, and we dont usually chose guys we are particularly attracted to, just whoever is convenient."

Is deeply cruel regardless of the target and I can't think of anything to call it other than a sexual assault in the form of some twistedly socially sanctioned joke that isn't the least bit funny. If you suspect the women who pinched your butt had motives like catatethebird's they probably do, or at least haven't worked hard enough to be sure you know they don't. If that is the case please tell them to go fuck themselves and find new friends.

I like your title and LOLed for a bit
posted by Blasdelb at 10:40 AM on November 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

I'm surprised it took so long in thus thread for the term "sexual assault" to be mentioned. I don't see this act as any different whether it's a man or woman targeted.
posted by jayder at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

That sounds like sexual assault to me.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

There isn't a real answer for your question other than it shouldn't be something you have to deal with but at least you can be happy that it's something you say have thus far liked instead of something that bothers you.

As you can see just from these answers people pinch butts for a number of reasons. Sometimes for no reason at all. The only way for you to really know is to talk with them. Some of the one-liners people have given you up above might help you break the ice and give some confidence to move forward it that's something you want to do.
Although, I will say that, the type of girl that does this will 99% of the time be someone who isn't worth your time. It's just a horror of going out into public that you have to deal with, try to brush off, and then move on.

I've had this happen to me more than a few times. Although, it's always been in bar or concert type situations.
One time, I turned around, looked at the woman quite seriously in the eyes, then squeezed a boob with the same force she squeezed my butt. We actually ended up having a nice conversation and a fun night. I don't recommend doing this though, haha.

Another time I turned around, said "Oh, Hello." then went back to what I was doing. There was a drink waiting for me the next time she came up to me.

Another time it was a man. A police officer at a police officers gathering at an Irish pub, to be more exact. I felt really violated because he used his whole hand and made some sort of grunting sound. Very hopeless feeling situation.

Another time a girl did it multiple times despite me telling her no and that I wasn't finding it humorous. On the fourth time I had a long talk with her about what the terms "No" and "sexual assault" meant.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:12 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I just want to add as a female-socialized person that in my circles, this would be an incredibly creepy thing to do. I'm glad you find it flattering rather than jerky, but bear in mind when you imagine introducing yourself to these women that they are women who believe that other people's bodies are theirs to handle sexually without permission and then ask yourself in what contexts this might be a liability.
posted by Frowner at 12:04 PM on November 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'm with zephyr_words and some of the other commenters. Coming from a stranger or mere acquaintance, butt-pinching is an aggressive, domineering invasion of personal space no matter what the sex of the pincher or pinchee.

You said that you had trouble interacting with people. Some people will do just about anything to hide their own discomfort and self-hatred, including trying to transfer it onto another person who also seems uncomfortable... by doing something like pinching their butt.

The attention may seem flattering, but I doubt that it is intended as such. That's not a knock on you or your attractiveness, BTW, it's just that some people are really sick. I would not pursue any interaction with these people if I were in your shoes; I think by doing so you would be setting yourself up for some real pain. You are in a tough spot to defend yourself from future attacks, too, and these women know it.

Sadly, for a lot of people these days, assertion == aggression, especially when they think they can get away with it. It's just not so. Try some daytime social activities like activity clubs instead; I'm assuming that the pinching is booze and/or drug fueled. The bar scene is apparently far uglier these days than it used to be.
posted by Currer Belfry at 12:07 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a woman. I've pinched a tush or two, but it is always with someone I have known for a very long time and someone I have known very well and also someone who knows it is a joke. Now that I am not a free woman, I pinch the behind of the man in my life to get him to know I want a little naughty interaction.

I think you should take the butt-pinching as women who are doing the pinching to like you, and think you are attractive. more saying you are not attractive.

Yes, it is a little on the aggressive and invasive side and if a man did it to a woman, he would have gotten an elbow in the gut or a slap in the face.

The thing is, do/did YOU like it? If not, you can just say, "that was inappropriate." If you did like it, then I guess you can ask, "can I help you?"

If someone you don't know would be so bold as to touch your parts, they are hoping it will get your attention. Asking "Can I help you?" is along the kind of reaction she would be looking for you. Be prepared for her to tell you what she would like help with.
posted by Yellow at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2011

I wish this were a harmless bit of flirtation, and maybe some of it is well-meant, but it's just creepy and wrong.

Supposing you responded to it by flirting, even if they weren't setting you up for a humiliating blowout they still probably wouldn't turn out to be good people to interact with. At all.
posted by tel3path at 12:42 PM on November 12, 2011

Thinking about the difference between doing this to a man versus a woman:

I'm guessing the double-standard is due in part to a perception of implied consent. That is, there may be a perception that most males don't mind it if a woman pinches their ass, whereas women are much more likely to take offense. I don't know if that perception is true or not, but it may account for the double-standard.
posted by mikeand1 at 1:01 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

To answer your question, I think it means that at best, she hasn't been taught to respect other people's body space, and at worst she's a sexual predator. You should respond by telling her that it's not appropriiate to sexually assualt someone and, if required, reporting her to the police.

Just as you would if the gender roles were reversed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:09 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

i assume if this were a woman getting her butt pinched by random men, the tone of answer would be significantly different from the bulk of what's being expressed here, particularly if it was a man asking something along the lines of "i like to pinch cute girls' butts when i'm out in public, what should i say when they turn around?".

having said that, yeah they probably like your butt and/or find you generally attractive and are trying to get your attention. some people want a followup flirt, some people are just silly and flirtatious and aren't necessarily looking for any further interaction. particularly if alcohol has been a part of their evening prior to your butt showing up on the scene.
posted by radiosilents at 3:30 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do to flirt and to tease. I expect no reaction other than a laugh.
posted by buck:fuller at 3:40 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

My problem is that I am awful at talking to people in general, and particularly at schmoozing with strangers of the opposite sex.

This may seem cute to a certain type of woman, who pinches your butt hoping to make you blush.

(Yeah, it's still not appropriate.)
posted by desuetude at 3:47 PM on November 12, 2011

It means you're around women who think sexual assault is okay. I can't speak for you but if a woman - or a man - pinched my ass I'd tear them a new one. Absolutely disgraceful behaviour.
posted by Decani at 4:55 PM on November 12, 2011

I don't know of many men who would feel threatened by being pinched by a woman (and there are probably some men who would enjoy the experience), but women who go around pinching bottoms are probably not going to be the best candidates for a healthy LTR.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:49 PM on November 12, 2011

Mod note: Folks, this needs to back away from the sexual assault/lawyer angle and more "help the OP with their problem" Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 PM on November 12, 2011

Giving some thought to catatethebird's comment --

Probably nothing. Sometimes me and my friends do this. Usually when quite drunk. We just do it for fun, it doesn't mean anything, and we dont usually chose guys we are particularly attracted to, just whoever is convenient.

You might want to avoid reading too much into the butt-pinch. If you're as awkward as you seem to think you are, to think that it means the woman is attracted to you -- and behave accordingly -- could make you look like a chump. It would be pretty annoying to be the recipient of something flirty like a butt-pinch from a stranger, try to engage that person in good faith, and find out that she isn't attracted to you and just did it for drunk lulz with the gals.
posted by jayder at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: whether in fact women are pinching your buttocks.

I think that they are having some fun with you mostly. Regardless of that, you should loosen up a bit around people because it's fun and you'll have a better idea of what they're thinking by interacting with them.
posted by michaelh at 2:52 PM on November 13, 2011

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