Yo, Dudes, Cut the Shit: Pt. 2

We stopped at Charlie Murdoch’s for Stephanie’s bachelorette party, a dueling piano bar. I loved it, by the way–the heckling is foul but hilarious without being mean, and the bands are awesome. I could’ve stayed and watched the bands all night, probably, but alas, we went downstairs for dancing.

Bar culture often gets weird. Usually, I have a good time and love it, but men have this tendency to cross the line and think they’re allowed to or they’re entitled to a woman. We’ve been through this–you’re not.

For privacy’s sake, even though this is by far not the worst male encounter I’ve ever witnessed, experienced, or heard tell of, I won’t say who was involved.

But she was dancing. She looked hot, I have to say, in tight, bright leggings and studded heels. Men like these things, understandably. And one such man decided to come right up behind her, right up against her, grinding and pretty intensely groping her legs. I mean, as I recall, hands running all up and down thighs. The kind of touching I prefer only Paul to do. The kind of touching Steve tried to a lesser extent that contributed significantly to our severed friendship.

She looked uncomfortable. To be fair, he couldn’t see her face, so he had no way of knowing this. But he could hear her repeatedly saying, “I don’t like this.” I know he could hear her because could hear her, and I was farther away.

He obviously didn’t care. And this is the main problem–dudes, when a girl is obviously uncomfortable with the way you’re interacting with her, you need to stop. She’s not playing hard to get. She’s not being a tease. She’s not secretly asking for it. She may freeze up and be unsure of what to do, but if she’s saying she doesn’t like what’s happening, you respect that. That’s Gentleman 101.

He wasn’t listening and she obviously was uncomfortable but didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to bitch him out for disrespecting people and boundaries, so I did the passive-aggressive thing–I grabbed her arm and forcibly pulled her away from him. Fortunately and somewhat miraculously, he got that hint and left.

Some other guy a few hours later in a different bar didn’t.

He started a little more innocently, at least, telling Tessa how gorgeous she is (this is an accepted consensus among every human that has seen Tessa). And then he gradually got more belligerent, rude, and a bit odd, honestly. He goes from complimenting her to telling us he’s gay but thinks she’s gorgeous to trying to convince her to make out, no matter how many times she denied him, and insisting it was totally okay because he was gay.

Men using homosexuality as justification for the way they treat women is increasingly common, both in stories of gay men inappropriately touching women and saying they didn’t think the women would mind because they were gay or, what I suspect this gay was doing, pretending to be gay in the hopes that women will for some reason feel more inclined to get sexual. If a woman doesn’t want to do something with a guy, she doesn’t want to do something with a guy. Sexual orientation isn’t gonna change that.

 

Every time we thought we’d lost him, he’d show back up again. This peaked when we went to leave and he followed us out of the bar.

I’m not sure if men understand how terrifying it is to be followed like that. When I was about 12 or 13, my mom noticed a man watching me closely and following me in a Walmart. It was scary then and even in a group on a busy street with cops everywhere, being followed out of a bar is scary now. Men can be threatened, harassed, assaulted, and raped, but these things are rare. Men don’t live with these threats quite the same way that women do. How many times have you been lectured by a parent about staying in a group, being aware of your surroundings, not leaving a drink unattended, or making sure someone knows where you are?

He followed us out of the bar, down the street, and held us up, moving from complimenting Tessa to addressing each of the rest of us, complimenting us or trying to sort of pin us down, telling us all about how he perceived us.

He didn’t leave until Stephanie yelled at him to leave. He got a little huffy and stormed off, but at least he left. In the end he may have been harmless, but we had no way of knowing that. Again, boundaries. He’d been turned down and ignored, and when we ready to leave for the night, we couldn’t. We were followed, and we had no idea what he might do to get what he wanted.

That’s the key there, dudes, even for you lovely well-behaved gentlemen (you do exist, I know, just keep fighting the good fight!)–maybe sometimes, you think the flirting or the persistence is harmless or effective or attractive or whatever. Maybe you think women overreact and freak out easily, and maybe sometimes we do, but you have to consider why. It’s because most of us have already experienced that refusals can be ignored. Most of us have already experienced some physical, sexual contact against our will. Most of us have already dealt with a man who feels he’s entitled to our bodies by virtue of having a penis. Most of us have been followed out of bars. Most of us just don’t know how far you’ll go to get what you want.

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4 thoughts on “Yo, Dudes, Cut the Shit: Pt. 2

  1. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I sometimes allowed friends to convince me to go to clubs with them, even though everyone knows that’s not my scene (and never was). Each time, I was appalled at the meat-market-like atmosphere. I could not believe what passed for ACCEPTABLE behavior in that setting, never mind the stuff that was considered unacceptable. It’s not even about treating a lady like a lady; it’s about treating anyone like a human being. I hate clubs.

    I was at a party once where one of my gay friends was sitting on a couch with one of my (and his) nongay female friends. They were both pretty drunk, and in his inebriated haze, he started squeezing her breasts in fascination. She allowed this, at least for a little while, even though she was engaged. We were all very good friends and there are things you can get away with when you’re that chummy.

    It was never really spoken, but of course one reason he got away with this is that he was actually gay, and his groping was therefore just curiosity and not lascivious. But in my (non-drunken) mind, all I could think was, “Gee. That’s not even fair. I’d like to be doing that right now but I don’t have drunkenness or homosexuality to use as an excuse.” It made me sad. 🙂

    And of course, the groping gay friend didn’t remember any of it the next day. What the heck? If he’s going to get away with such things, the least he could do is remember what it’s like. They were very nice breasts.

    None of which is to contradict what you say here, that gayness is no excuse for improper behavior. Obviously, the setting and response were different in my story. I just felt like sharing.

    1. If I remember tomorrow (or whenever I have time to do a big update), I’ll have to share what’s probably my worst bar story ever. It involves a friend being unwillingly kissed and groped when she and I were drinking by ourselves. That one also deals with the issue of mentioning significant others, since neither of ours joined us. She was dating a woman at the time and found telling men this only encouraged them, while I thought telling men I have a boyfriend is often futile because it turns into “Well, then why isn’t he here?” (because we can have fun separately!) and “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him” (nevermind the fact that I just don’t do that to people).

      Friends definitely get away with more. I’ve had my fair share of naughtiness with friends. I was thinking about all this early the morning I saw it, and I think sometimes it’s a twofold issue: one, women (men, too, really) are more inclined to trust friends to begin with and two, with men we know to actually be gay (as opposed to potentially lying), there’s no risk. Going back to the idea of not knowing how far a man will go to get sex out of you, that’s not something you have to worry about with a gay guy. I’ve had gay friends touch my boobs (although it was at Rocky Horror…). I think for women, we have the idea, too, that they’re not interested at all so it doesn’t really matter, which maybe gets misinterpreted and has something to do with guys pretending to be gay to get a woman.

      It is kind of unfair, but it’s weird and hard to fully justify it, although gay guys don’t always get away with these things–not too long ago, I found some Tumblr posts where women (and possibly men, too, I’m not sure) were discussing how they’ve been unwillingly groped by gay men who thought it was okay because their gay. The issue seems to be more consent and tactics–not that asking nicely is gonna lead to women agreeing to being felt up at random, but it is worth noting that the only guy who has ever asked before doing something or even asked if I wanted him to stop doing something is my boyfriend. Ironically, it probably got him farther in the end.

      Oh, human sexuality. You are so strange.

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