*I wrote this last month and forgot to post it so…
Something happened on the Bachelorette last night that made me roll my eyes. And then I got really uncomfortable with the fact that my only reaction was to roll my eyes.
This guy, Ryan M, got drunk. He got really, really drunk. At one point a guy asked him what he was doing and his response was: “why am I not raping you right now?”. Um. Ick. This seemed to be the nail in his coffin and they sent him home.
But the thing that made me roll my eyes, and then kick myself for having no more reaction than that, was when Ryan M reached out and ran his hand along Kaitlyn’s hip. And then, moments after she had casually moved herself away from his reach, Ryan M moved around and grabbed her ass. Nothing was much was said, nothing much was done, and Kaitlyn wandered off on the arm of another guy, clearly very uncomfortable.
Earlier in the episode Ryan M had grabbed Britt and tried to pull her close, rough to the extent that another guy asked him to let her go and be more gentle.
I get it. People get drunk. They do stupid things.
Several months ago I was out with a friend at an open mike night and we ended up talking to one of the musicians. It was at a small restaurant on the beach, a Sunday night, an older crowd. Nothing wild or crazy. We were honest with the musician that he was a good looking (if older and drunk) guy. Just silly banter and flirting.
The guy then introduced himself to me and, in the motion of going to shake my hand, managed to cop a feel of not one, but both, breasts. “Oops, I touched your breasts!”, he giggled. He went to shake my hand a second time. “Oops, I did it again!”.
We all laughed, the bartender rolled his eyes and said something about happy accidents. It was all very innocent and funny.
But was it?
How many times have you, as a woman, been the recipient of these types of touches? How often have they made you uncomfortable? As a guy, has this ever happened to you?
Did I invite this man to touch my breasts by flirting with him? No. And yet I felt like I had.
And it wasn’t a big deal. I looked back at the whole thing as a hilarious anecdote.
But maybe that’s a dangerous way to look at something like this.
Why wasn’t Ryan M kicked off the show the moment that he, uninvited, touched one of the girls? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the producers to protect the women from these sorts of advances? Why was there so little reaction from both women?
And in both their faces I could see that familiar female expression of self-protection: I am going to laugh at this because any other reaction will make the situation worse.
Earlier in the year I had a man, I won’t go into the situation or place but it was someone I had to spend time with, who kept touching me. Little things like stroking my hand, holding my arm as I walked past so that I had to stop, hand on the back of my neck if he spoke to me when I was sitting down.
I was uncomfortable and told my Dad about it in a laughing way. My Dad told me that the next time he did it I should tell him not to touch me in a very calm and matter of fact way. My Dad seemed confused and frustrated that I wouldn’t just say something and put a stop to it. But I didn’t and I simply adjusted my behaviour so that I was no longer in situations where he was close enough to touch me.
This guy didn’t mean anything by the touches, of this I am certain. But I felt like my personal space had been invaded, particularly when my arm was restrained so that I couldn’t walk past. And I felt that any mention that I wasn’t comfortable being touched by him would come across as bitchy, accusatory, or militant-feminist. I mean really…
But I didn’t want him to touch me, I wasn’t comfortable being touched by him, and I should have told him so. Instead I altered my behavior to avoid his touches.
Is this normal? How many people have experienced this? Have men experienced this? Opinions would be appreciated.