The attitude towards women who defend themselves against the objectification of today’s society has yet again proved to be a disappointment. Recently, I was subject to harassment in a club unlike any I have experienced before.
Here is a little context:
Men grope. If you are going on a night out, particularly a girl’s night out, you have to be prepared for unwanted attention in an overcrowded club, as disgusting as this concept may be in the 21st century – hungry hands will usually find you. This is what happened on ‘said’ occasion. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing a glare and a ‘leave me alone’ won’t solve.
The ‘star groper of the evening’ moved around my small circle of friends, putting his hands around waists, touching butts… and each of us, in turn, told him to go away. Once he had completed the circle, finishing his groping with me – I told him none of us were interested, and told him to move away from us. Unbelievably, he asked me to clarify, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing (because he’s just such a catch with his hands all over my friends) so I repeated; and the ‘groper’ finally sulked off.
The night carried on.
A while later, he reappeared. Bumping into me with force, hands venturing “unconsciously”. The ‘look’ did not warn him off this time. After the third or fourth time of his launching his drunk self into my body, I had had enough. I turned around and pushed him away me. With this, he fell right on his arse… literally. My shock of having actually pushed a somewhat 23 year old bloke to the floor in my frustration of being touched and pushed about – shocked me… let alone the shock it brought him – along with the humiliation and anger.
He stood up and began to get aggressive, bee lining for anyone who happened to be standing in his way. My friends were holding him back, as he was trying to get to me. He was lashing out manically, and in his anger, he managed to get a hold of my friend’s top. She was desperately trying to get him off while completely freaking out and in the struggle he ended up ripping her top. Finally, three guys turned round to help, and they managed to pin him against the wall – but in the chaos, he’d grabbed my other friend and had her in some form of, what I can only describe, as a backwards headlock. Eventually, we managed to get him off her. Someone had to go and find security to defuse it all.
He was kicked out of the club. We were told he had a life long ban. However, when we explained to the bouncer that he had grabbed my friend by the neck, and showed him the developing marks – he said if we wanted to involve the police, then we would have to say quickly so they can take his name and details. In all the panic and shock of the situation, it didn’t click… to have to ban someone, you need their name at least surely? Let alone some details of who the person is. The bouncer did not even consider what had happened to be much of an issue… so yet again this guy got away with it! His next targets may not be as confrontational as my friends and I. Who knows what will happen to his next victims.
Here comes the pinnacle point of the event….
By this point, my friend with the ripped top was making her way to the Ladies, when some guy stopped her and said something along the lines of “you deserved that.”
Now. Excuse me?! How in god’s name, did we deserve that? Did any of us deserve it? We had simply stood up for ourselves after repeatedly being touched inappropriately. Not only did this one guy make this comment – but in the jam packed club, only three people stepped up to help. Three. It is not as if this “groper” was haphazardly being violent, he was raging with it! Even when I tried to thank the lads that helped, they looked at me with such disregard, almost a look of disgust as if I was the one in the wrong. The whole attitude towards us that evening was just that of pure unimportance. As if we had caused the problem, and were more of a nuisance than anything else. Very few people came to defuse the situation and the bouncers did not seem overly concerned.
When telling a member of my family how I’d defended myself, I was told that I should have told the bouncers and let them deal with it… my instant response to that was “the bouncers don’t care.” If I had approached a bouncer and said, “that guy won’t stop touching me and bashing into me” the response I’d have most likely been faced with is, “move away from him.” Now, why should I have to be the one to move, when he was the one causing harassment? Involving the bouncers did not even occur to me until he became a raging lunatic. I am perfectly capable of being able to tell unwanted hands to leave me the hell alone. I always have done, and I will continue to do so. Because I will experience it again and again and again, and it is not acceptable, nor should it be belittled.
This is how “rape culture” has become a thing, through belittlement. Harassment is so mundane in today’s society, nobody is shocked or surprised by it. Not bouncers, not club goers, not even me. Slowly but surely, we have begun to expect harassment. How has it become so acceptable for straying hands to explore our bodies without consent? How is that more acceptable than telling those hands to fuck off?
Speaking of telling harassers to fuck off… this same evening my friend asked me if I had just been tapping her butt as if it were a drum… (we are very close friends). I looked at her blankly – it wasn’t me. I pulled her towards me and we shuffled as best we could across the dance floor, not being able to get very far due to the popularity of the club. We carried on dancing – until I felt someone tapping on my butt as if it were a drum. I turned round and attempted to confront the guy. He would not even look at me in the face! He was just smiling, staring at the floor (with a slightly sheepish look, embarrassed that I didn’t fall at his godly knees with adoration for his masterful butt tapping) and completely ignoring me!
Nightclubs should be a place where people can relax and have fun. I always considered clubbing to be a rather beautiful thing despite the stigma surrounding club-goers. People crowd together to drink something that relaxes and provides them with confidence, they dance for hours focusing on nothing but what is in front of them.
That has been tainted now. When out, I’m on constant alert, watching out for friends, making sure nothing is slipped into my drink when I’m dancing, chatting, crossing the dance floor… Clubs are now uncomfortable places.
The attitude towards drunk, club-going women is that they are vulnerable and inviting. My parents are always telling me “don’t ever walk back by yourself” because I am deemed vulnerable, an easy target. My clothes are never suggesting and even if I do not happen to be wearing any at all – it still does not suggest anything.
I am not vulnerable. If you refuse to leave me alone after a fair warning, I will get annoyed.
I am not inviting. You keep your hands off me. My outfit is not an invitation. We are not objects to be marvelled at, neither are we pets to be stroked. If people feel they will be unable to control themselves in a club environment. Then they should be the ones to stay at home. Women should be comfortable and confident in being able to go on a night out, without the constant fear and unease of unwanted attention. There are plenty ways to grab a girls attention. But grabbing her is NOT one of them.
Attitudes towards club-going women need to change drastically. Respect that women are out to have a good time, and do not want to be touched up all night. Being drunk is not an excuse to manhandle women.
Have respect. Do not belittle harassment. Do not put up with it.