So, today I had a really good day. First, I see that the Welsh government are taking street harassment seriously in the fantastic “One Step Too Far” campaign. Then, I listen to Holly’s interview with Susan Bartelstone and felt even better: wow – people are starting to take this issue seriously! Then, having gone for a quick Friday afternoon drink with a colleague, I become depressed.
It’s my turn to get a drink, so I go to the bar to get a drink for me, my colleague and my boyfriend, who are enjoying the summer evening outside. Waiting at the bar, a guy in front of me who isn’t waiting to be served very politely moves aside for me to reach the bar. It becomes obvious that he is one of a group of four men hanging about the bar – he seems fine, and at least seems to possess some manners – but as I’m stood waiting to be served I feel a hand on my backside. I’m actually so shocked that I don’t move, I pretend I didn’t notice – because how the **** did that just happen?! Please tell me you didn’t just touch me because I’m a woman on my own at a bar?
Waiting for drinks, I can hear the guys behind me laughing about what they just did, whilst I formulate the ideal response. I try to be cool, and when I’ve paid and am heading away from the bar, I say “I’m a feminist activist, so whoever just touched my arse just made a really stupid mistake.”
I have NEVER seen such horrified expressions as I did on these guys – complete dismay and horror that a women had called them out on their actions. I walked away casually back to my boyfriend and friend. Ten minutes later, the politer of the bunch who had moved from the bar for me comes to ‘apologise’ for his idiotic friends. Reasonably nice guy, but why are you apologising for your friends? I reiterated that I don’t appreciate that kind of attention and it is unacceptable; he again apologised. Fair enough – maybe this affected these guys and made them think that this isn’t a good way to behave, but then: why the hell am I telling grown men how to behave?! Can you not see that this isn’t normal?
My one regret: I didn’t make a bigger scene and take a snap for hollaback. I wish I could think quicker.
Location: The Friend at Hand pub, Bloomsbury, London