What’s the big deal? A guy passing behind you in the bar touches your shoulders to let you know he needs to get by? Isn’t this normal interaction in our society? It’s an innocent act of touching for him to express himself? Or is it his deep routed programming, to assert his masculinity on a female, showing his dominance?
I really started thinking about this more after a new dance friend of mine shared this article on social media:http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/mantouching-john-travolta-joe-biden/. And only within one week of me reading this article, there have been two times that I have experienced man touching, now that I know the definition of it. I know it has happened to me on a regular basis, really, my entire adult life, but now I am significantly more aware of it.
1. My girlfriend and I were out for drinks last weekend. We went to a pub style restaurant, and were standing at the bar, waiting to be seated for supper. Two men, I would guess late 30s and mid 40s, were next to us and leaving, so brought over their stools for us. A kind gesture. Until the first man placed his hand on my lower back when he spoke to me. I had not even looked this man in the eyes and now he is touching me. Then the second came up and did the same to me. And even asked for my hand to kiss it. Two men that are complete strangers to me, I showed no interest in speaking to them at all prior, and both touched me. So, is this just normal behaviour that is acceptable in our culture? Had I told both of them to please not touch me, I am sure they would have been surprised by my response and considered me a bitch for saying so.
2. There is a man I see on an almost daily basis, due to our similar schedules. He is almost 20 years older than me and we speak only on occasion. The other day I was wearing a looser, large necked top and he thought he saw something on my shoulder and actually reached out to pull down the neck of my shirt to look at my arm. A man I know has a family, but don’t know him well enough to even know their names. I grabbed my shirt and stepped back and said, “Don’t touch me.” And he just continued speaking to me as if I hadn’t even said anything.
So, what is this? Women overreacting? Men asserting their dominance over us? Innocent interactions? What I do know, is that I can not remember the last time I touched a male friend, or male stranger, in any way. Except the time last year at a music festival where a drunk guy fell into me, used my butt to steady himself and I chest pushed him off of me.
I also know that the last paragraph of the article describes how I felt, that night out for drinks with my girlfriend.
“You might not think a pinched cheek or a shoulder caress is something to lose sleep over. But the next time you see a man put his hand on the small of a woman’s back, look at her eyes. Look at her smile. If you’re looking closely enough, I bet you can see her faking it. I bet you can see how painful it really is.”