Grabbing A Man’s Butt Is Sexual Harassment, Too

This past weekend, at the crowded gate before a crowded Penn State football game, I had my ass grabbed by a drunk 45-year-old woman. If you’ll permit me, I’d like to work through this by way of an open letter directed at her.

Okay, look. I get that the “cougar” thing is pretty big right now, and everyone thinks it’s hilarious, older women “preying” on young men. When you giggled and grabbed my ass this weekend, I know you thought you were being cute, but straight up, lady: that was sexual harassment.

It started when you were holding on to my belt loops so you could get through the increasingly drunk and hostile crowd trying to get into the Penn State-Alabama game on Thursday. You saw a great big 24-year-old guy in front of you and thought you could sneak in behind him. I get it. But I wasn’t really thrilled with your presumed familiarity, and I think I made that pretty clear when I reached behind me and repeatedly kept pushing your hands away.

You turned to your female friend and laughed: “He doesn’t like that!” Then you took a big ol’ handful of my ass and squeezed. Hard.

Honestly, I was less upset that you actually grabbed my ass than I was at what happened next. When I turned and told you very sternly to not do that, you laughed in my face. You told me I was overreacting. And you told me to fuck off.

I mean, it’s as simple as this: I didn’t want to be touched. It’s a basic human expectation, to not want to be touched by a stranger, in spite of (and perhaps because of) being surrounded in a crowd. Even in a mass of people, I’m entitled to some private space when it comes to my actual corporeal form. They teach you that shit when you’re in the 2nd grade, when they show you that stupid video of the cartoon cat who freaks out every time someone touches his tail. It was ridiculous then. Flash-forward 17 or 18 years, and suddenly you find some drunk bimbo trying to play grab ass, and you find yourself thinking about good, bad, and “uh-oh” touches.

Personal space is serious business. Even now, thinking about it after the fact, I get anxious butterflies in my stomach and it feels like a pitcher of cold water is being poured in my chest. Simply put, I feel gross. And I don’t mean to compare what happened to me this weekend to women who are truly victimized in way worse circumstances; I can only imagine what they go through when something like this happens to them, and on a greater scale.

But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Because I’m a 24-year-old man, I’m expected to just shrug off this obvious violation of personal space. I’m supposed to just desexualize it and be told that it’s not a big deal, that I’m overreacting, and hey, you were drunk. Please. If I drunkenly grabbed your ass in a football stadium, I think you’d hardly be pleased if you turned around and I laughed in your leathery face. The tragic truth is that there are guys who do that, every day, and those guys, unfortunately, get away with it. But just because you’re a “cougar” doesn’t mean you get to do that as well.

I digress. This is not the place to debate the validity of double standards. The bottom line is that, regardless of the age, gender, or the very strong and manly (some would say God-like) physique of the other person, sexual harassment is never okay. So just don’t do it, okay?

Also, we lost 27-11 to Alabama, and I blame you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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