As regular followers of my blog probably know, I have a bit of a feminist bent. My last post was about heading off to celebrate our daughter’s twenty-first birthday in the town where she attends university.
Over the last few days we’ve been chatting and catching up, and one of the subjects that came up was going out for the evening to a pub or club to go dancing. Our daughter enjoys dancing, doesn’t tend to drink when she’s out because she always has to drive home, and doesn’t go out a lot, but like many young women, enjoys the occasional night out.
But she tells me that pretty well every time she goes out, she and her female friends have to fend of ‘handy’ young men. It’s not unusual, it’s just what happens all the time.
There are apparently a number of techniques that these young men use. (Apparently it’s mostly young men.) There’s the ‘grind up against you’ when dancing, the sneaky arm around the waist or chest so that the hand can head for ‘side boob,’ there’s ‘the butt grab,’ and if you have a fairly largish cup size, there’s the question “Are those real?” followed by “Can I touch them?”
As a result, there’s a number of techniques to counter all the above. Firstly the grind – apparently you let them grind, and then step away suddenly so that they fall over. The sneaky arm involves arm removal thereof (usually a repeat move) and the butt grab involves high heel on the instep. The boob questions have necessitated the use of knee to groin as a deterrent. (Mainly because of the inability of the young men to understand a two letter word – NO!)
Today we discussed the thumb grab, the location of the ulna nerve and the elbow snap as creative alternatives to some of the above. Apparently as the alcohol flows, so do the hands. Another useful technique involves positioning yourself near the bouncers so that you can dance in an unimpeded fashion. There are apparently also some older blokes who sometimes intervene when the younger blokes persist with their unwelcome intentions, but that depends on who’s there at the time.
As we sat talking, I was astounded at the expectations of being groped in a public place. I was astounded by the matter of fact way our daughter described it as just ‘something that happens’ when you’re out. (This is not what we’ve taught as normal in our family.)
As a parent, I was appalled. As a feminist I’m extremely dismayed that any man could think he has the right to do that to any woman without her consent.
What gives any young man the hide to think that he can manhandle any girl just because she’s dancing with her friends in a pub or club? What gives them the idea that it’s normal to grope a girl? Or ask her about her breasts? Where does this sense of entitlement come from? Or the idea that this kind of behaviour is not offensive? Why do they not understand that this is sexual assault?
I’ve campaigned against the early sexualisation and objectification of women and girls for years now. I absolutely class myself as a feminist. It’s 2014, and women can now have careers, higher education, good pay, and perform tasks previously reserved for men.
But somewhere along the way, that one essential thing seems to have gone missing – RESPECT.
Respect is when a woman can go out in public and NOT be groped. When she can walk to her car or transport without feeling the need to put her keys between her fingers for safety ‘just in case.’ Respect is when that two letter word ‘NO’ is enough. Respect is when she’s a person and not a collection of body parts to be made accessible to others because they feel they’re entitled to them.
There’s been quite a few young women ‘not needing feminism’ recently. Today has confirmed that we need it more than ever, because it’s very obvious that respect is not yet universal.