To all the men, and all the women I know.
Please read this… I would love and appreciate any response or thoughts, as to what I’m actually meant to say and do, in the following situations.
Last night I went to my local pub, for a drink, with my boyfriend.
Do you need me to tell you what I was drinking? I had a fruit juice with soda water (x 2) and 1 single rum (to celebrate a male friend’s birthday), and I hadn’t drunk any other alcohol in the day.
Within the 2 hours I was there, the following happened:
- One man I know walked in, came to stand by us (we – 4 of us – we are on bar stools) and leant in saying “Ooo, who smells nice… is it you” and then leant in really close to sniff me. I know this man but we’re not close or friends. I tried a light response of pushing him away and saying “don’t do that, it’s not ok… this is my space, that’s yours”. It didn’t work. He did it at least twice more, and thought it was funny.
- I accidentally elbowed a man stood very close behind me (the pub was very empty barring 10 ish people). I know him – he’s in the normal/safe category. He joked that I’d assaulted him. I explained I was trying to discreetly nudge the other man (above) to encourage him to move away a bit (my stool was against the wall by this point). He joked to my boyfriend “I get her attention now, because she assaulted me, but I’m going to forgive her because she’s beautiful”. I rolled my eyes and pulled a cringe face to him and turned away. After apologising for assaulting him.
- 2 men arrived and one I have been previously intimidated by (or you might call it ‘chatted up’ at the bar by – despite disinterest) came over to my boyfriend and leant across me to hug and handshake him, he then put his hands on my shoulders and leant it and kissed my cheek. I don’t even know his name. A male friend noticed my discomfort and offered a reassuring cringe-face.
- I leant and bent over behind my stool to pick up my coat, and man I know, standing behind us, made a noise and then said “that was nice, will you do it again”. Same man on leaving the bar, stood in front us looking at me and said to my boyfriend “she’s so hot isn’t she”.
Am I not meant to be in the pub, sitting on a bar stool, drinking a rum with 3 friends? Should I leave? be elsewhere?
There are numerous times things like this have happened and there are numerous times I have said “no thank you… go away… leave me alone please… I’m not interested”. I’ve also tried “please don’t do that you’re making me feel very uncomfortable” – but it’s not the right thing.
I’ve also experienced many aggressive responses to mine. Including sometimes physical grabbing, pushing, and once it hurt and I almost fell over. I’ve been shouted at in the street, and out of the window of a white van who proceeded to swerve close to my car because I ignored their group-heckling when we were sat at the traffic lights – after checking that my skirt or top wasn’t giving them a view of me. I’ve been groped whilst working and responded by shouting very loudly at the man, in-front of everyone (bar customers), and I had to leave because that wasn’t appropriate. And the holding of the hips whilst he brushes himself past… too. many. times. to recount.
So why still, as a confident and assertive adult, with super communication skills do I freeze and not know what to do or say? Why does this kind of behaviour reduce me, to feel instantly powerless and incapable.
Do you need to know what I was wearing yesterday? A dress with a med-high neck and length down to below the knee, with trainers.
I am not single. I am not available. Nor have I ever intimated or behaved in such a way with anyone of these people. I was with my partner.
Are people that clueless that they think I would actually like and enjoy that. Or even feel comfortable with it. Or be used to it.
No, I’m not going to appreciate the ‘compliments’ and ‘attention’ that I do not want.
What would you say? and do?
NB – To add a little more context, I have been inappropriately (and very much unwanted) touched by two other men in the same pub. Oh but they were very drunk on those nights. I told my partner and other friends. Two people spoke to one of the men (a friend of my boyfriend) – but it happened again. They were embarrassed, they didn’t mean it, they were too drunk and have stuff going on that they’re stressed about. I now move tables, or leave when they are there, and don’t make eye contact or engage in any conversation with them.