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. TC mark

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  • Customconcern

    in before “that’s what it’s like to be a woman”

    but actually, i imagine that is probably what it’s like to be a woman (at times)

  • Anonymous

    ….. and now we all know what it’s like to be a female in a crowded space. can we also please have a post on what it’s like to be catcalled, visually f-ed and otherwise harassed for simply having tits? I’m sorry you had to experience this but welcome to the world of having a vagina. 

    • WDeanis

      Worked in a gay club as a bartender and “shot boy” for three years.  Yeah, I’m gay, but don’t touch me.  I don’t care whether you’re old and nasty or young and hot… don’t do it.  That’s how I punched a handful of guys over the years without getting fired

      • Anonymous

        agreed. i feel horrible for this author – didn’t mean for my original comment to come off as cold but in an odd way, I think it’s important for men to have an experience like this so they can understand a bit better what female go through on a regular basis. 

        also, i’m definitely not a spring flower when it comes to inappropriate touching. I’ve slapped a stranger or two in my day.

    • http://twitter.com/rysimmons Ryan Simmons

      I get where you’re coming from. I’m not trying to take away from women who probably deal with this on a far greater scale than I did. Just a reminder that it fucking blows for everybody.

    • Robertbenesh

      check out “the internet” for said article. i’ve read 1,000,000 +.

    • http://yahoo.com chad444

      Wow some bitch here thinks guys should have to experience something like this to “know what its like to have a vagina”. And you’re complaining about being “visually raped”. Wow what an ignorant bitch. Please get an education. Women stare at handsome men all the time.
      These men are always being “visually raped”. But you don’t have any problems with this do you? Only if men stare at women right? If men “deserve” to be sexually harassed then women “deserve” every bit of harassment they get including rape. Ignorant double standardizing bitch whore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zain.ladha Zain Ladha

    you should have grabbed her boob very hard to see how she likes it

  • Ceqli

    Speaking as a man who has Been molested before, this is moving. It’s not about who does the act to whom; it’s about personal space and one’s need for privacy. That’s why we humans have such complex mating rituals: we want to be able to trust the person we are considering sleeping with. And whether you’re a man or a woman, harassing someone in ANY way is immature and criminal.

  • 6702

    Not cool!  As a women this makes me so angry for you. Society and I  also find it extra creepy  when I feel violated by a much older man. So why is whole cougar thing not considered equally sleazy? I want to give you non sexual harassment hugs and mace:(
    Thanks for writing a thoughtful article.

  • Ginjoint

    I’m so sad about this. I’m a gay guy and back in high school, before everything grew on me such as my height, my legs etc, my ass was already a bit too prominent. Always had my girl_friends grab or spank it, along with some of my dude friends.
    Reading this validates my feeling violated through those years and up to today.

  • Allison

    Loved this.  Was starting to think I was the only 24-year-old left that felt a need for personal space no matter how crowded the space.  Also, Mizzou lost this weekend also.. I’ll blame it on her.

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I’m always amazed about the liberties people take involving personal space and appropriate touch with strangers. I’m sorry your team lost on account of a cougar, buddy. 

    • http://twitter.com/rysimmons Ryan Simmons

      Thanks. I’m just glad I have someone to blame besides Joe Paterno.

  • Anonymous

    Much needed. Thanks for writing this, Ryan!

  • xra

    we’d be able to deal with this if it wasn’t for the pervasive bias of taking female complaints seriously while seeing male complaints as a show of weakness/something to laugh at

  • http://lostandforgotten.wordpress.com/ Marta

    Yeah that’s completely uncool. I hate that women seem to think its okay if they do it to men, but if you had done it to her shit would have hit the fan.

    • Amber

      I’m pretty sure most women don’t think it’s okay to do this type of thing to anyone.

  • Anonymous

    i just don’t like being touched. at all. ever. anywhere. 

  • HKearl

    Hi – I’m so sorry this happened, no one should be treated this way. Would it be okay if I cross-posted it at Stop Street Harassment? Thank you. 

  • anotheropinion

     I’d like to be able to agree with your point completely, but when you undermine your own argument at several points, it makes me pause to take that stance. How necessary is it to refer to this woman as a bimbo? Or, in your hypothetical turn-the-tables, must you add the detail about her “leathery face?” Again, you have a strong argument over all, but when you add in details like that, it makes me wonder if this woman had been younger and more attractive and less of “bimbo” (which I don’t think is an appropriate word, ever), whether would you have felt as violated. I don’t want to insinuate that this would be the case and from your conviction in writing I don’t think it is, only that those words still suggest it. Thank you for pointing out the unfortunate absurdity of one double standard, just please give another the same consideration.

    • guestface killah

      nah, this is like saying a girl is less likely to be ‘harrassed’ if like brad pitt comes on to her… the lack of mutual attraction is a big part of what makes something like this harassment in the first place

    • Lsrms3977

      If she’s younger and groping men inappropriately, especially older men, she too will get punched in the face or raped as well.

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  • Lsrms3977

    Any sleazy woman who grabs a man inappropriately like that needs to get punched in the face or raped. Seriously. It’s way to put women back in their place for crying out loud! You should have beat the shit out of this slut.

  • Lsrms3977

    Grabbing a man’s butt will get you ladies beaten, raped, or killed and men hate it.

  • http://yahoo chad44

    Wow some bitch here thinks guys should have to experience something like this to “know what its like to have a vagina”. And you’re complaining about being “visually raped”. Wow what an ignorant bitch. Please get an education. Women stare at handsome men all the time.
    These men are always being “visually raped”. But you don’t have any problems with this do you? Only if men stare at women right? If men “deserve” to be sexually harassed then women “deserve” every bit of harassment they get including rape. Ignorant double standardizing bitch.

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