“Many people expect women to feel flattered and just giggle coquettishly in response to harassment”

I was in a pub for some after-work drinks with some friends and colleagues, including my boss. I felt someone behind me grab my hips, pinching them so tightly he actually hurt me, to try and move me out of his way as he walked to the bar (why he couldn’t have just said “excuse me” I don’t know). I turned round and told him “oi, don’t f***ing do that.” He looked rather shocked and apologised. A few minutes later, as he returned from the bar, I gave him a glare and he backed away and passed me at a respectful distance.

What happened next upset me much more: a female friend of mine said “I think you were way too aggressive with that guy.” I said, “But you saw what he did,” and she replied “I know, but it happens, you just have to accept it.”

I told her it happens precisely *because* people accept it, but she still thought I had overreacted. Both my friend and the groper were rather shocked at my reaction, and I think many people, both men and women, still expect women to feel flattered and just giggle coquettishly in response to harassment, and feel that getting aggressive is somehow unladylike and socially unacceptable.

– Anonymous

Location: London, United Kingdom

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6 Responses to “Many people expect women to feel flattered and just giggle coquettishly in response to harassment”

  1. Kelly says:

    Too often people want to give the benefit of the doubt to the harasser without even trying to understand why the women is upset. Many people believe women just get get upset every little issue and overreact, you know: crazy woman is just hysterical with little or no cause so lets ignore and marginalise her. Why is it that in these situations the benefit of the doubt goes to the person who is upset, like most people just snap at random people accuse them of these kind of behaviours.

    ‘Oh he didn’t mean to walk into and roughly pinch both your hips that’s just cause you were in his way and that is an apropriate way to get past women’. If he did it to a man he’d have a bloody nose and most people would be on the pinched mans side.

     He was out of line, not only would’ve it been easier to say ‘excuse me’ and pass without incident, doing that would’ve been the courteous thing to do and I’m talking basic common courtesy. You know that thing that they (try to) drill into as a child  that behaviour to make society more civilized and run more smoothly. Keep your hands to yourself still applies to adults, in fact even more to adults.    

    This is a dangerous mindset because if you ignore and marginalise these incidents you not only hurt individual women. You perpetuate a culture where a woman rights and well-being are marginalized where a woman’s word is worth less than a mans. It goes down to the annoying discourse that women have to be ‘nice girls’ a to be a nice girl you must be polite and  happy to everyone regardless of the situation. Even in situations where your safety or dignity is at stake if you aren’t sheepish or scared and stand up for yourself you get labeled a bitch. This social conditioning only serves to maintain the power balance it’s so obvious yet most people don’t see it.     

  2. Anonymous says:

    You were completely right to do what you did, and you shouldn’t have to justify it to anyone, least of all your friend!

  3. Nigerian Sista says:

    OMG I can relate on so many levels to this incident and am in complete agreement with Kelly’s comment. I was in a grocery store and saw a guy in an isle towards the entrance of the store. When I got to my isle, he was oronically right behind me making up stories about how I was standing in the middle of the isle and whatnot. I am only 5’4 and medium build, and was also the only person in the isle, so obviously this was harassment. We ended up getting onto a hostile argument but that’s neither here nor there, the bottom line is that he was harassing me. Do you know how many people were looking at me as if something was wrong with me when I was simply verbally defending myself because I was being harassed by a rude stranger? Do you know how many people told me that I shouldn’t have ‘talked back to him’. I always wonder if he would’ve tried that crap with a man. Probably not! Society does this awful thing where they often refuse to hold grown males accountable for their behavior when a male acts innapropriate to a woman. They will find every excuse to not only say he has no fault in the matter, but also that it’s the woman who he CHOSE to attack’s fault. So when a male rapes or violently assualts a woman, is that her fault too? It’s disgusting. Stranglely enough, women aren’t the ones responsible for the majority of crimes that are committed against humanity…males are. And what’s this business about overeacting? The commenter gave a good reaction because he straightened up after that and will more than likely think twice before he pulls that nonsense on another woman!

  4. Emmaline says:

    In whistler/honking/certain catcalling situations I do think ignoring is best – but when one actually violates your body and personal space in a way like that there is NO condoning it! Your coworker/friend is not right in saying you were too hard on him, you were perfectly justified! I say you handled it perfectly (but what do I know, I’m only 15 :P). Good on you for standing up for yourself!

  5. ninyabruja says:

    Oh, I HATE THIS!!!!! There’s no excuse even if it IS noisy.

    If it’s crowded, noisy and I need to get by, I tap the person lightly on the shoulder or upper back and gesture in the direction I want to go.

  6. Amelia says:

    We can all brush past someone without grabbing that person’s hips to physically ‘move’ them out of the way. What that strange man did was clearly disrespectful.

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