Can’t Touch This (na-na-na-na, na-na, na-na)
A female colleague and I were describing our night out at the karaoke bar to a male colleague – telling him about the couple who had sex in the bathroom, the 18 year old who was trying to grope my friend’s chest, and my acquaintance of four years who admitted he’d been carrying a torch for me since the beginning (and who kept trying to hold my hand and rub my bra strap, despite the presence of my wife on my other side) – and my male colleague stopped us and said “Is this typical? Is this what women put up with when they go out?” It’s funny, just as men take for granted the fact that they don’t always have to be on the defense: watching to make sure their drink isn’t being tampered with, making sure they know who is around them and where their friends are (just in case they need help), paying attention to who is watching them, as well as policing their bodies and dealing with unwanted attention, women can sometimes forget just how much work goes into making sure they are safe. Yes, that is what it’s like to be a woman out at a bar. Not even a particularly attractive woman, just a regular woman.
What’s more, if you happen to be a lesbian and want to go to a bar with your partner to drink and dance, you will get propositioned. AB and I have never, and I mean not ever, not even once in eight years, gone to a bar together without the comfort barrier of a group of friends, and not been propositioned. Notice that I do not say flirted with, or even hit on. No, when men see the two of us dancing or even just holding hands, they drop what civility they might have had and just ask us if we want to go home with them. “I’m a trucker, I have lots of money – all I want to do is watch!” or, “You don’t even have to touch me, I just want to see you fuck my girlfriend,” or “So you’re gay huh? I bet I could change that.” We have been groped, grasped, cornered, followed, and more. We have since given up of ever being able to go out alone. It sucks, really.
Most men are fine, of course. These guys can keep on being their civil, friendly, selves. Please tell your friends if they are being assholes, though. Please, women, please do not make out with female friends just to get men’s attention. Those aren’t the kind of men whose attention you want, and you give them unrealistic expectations when it comes to women who actually are together.
Despite all the groping, I really did have a great time at karaoke. There is just something subtly surreal about a 20-something hipster couple in ironic t-shirts singing Oasis’ Wonderwall, or a 19-year old emo-boy singing 80’s rock tunes with great gusto. Next week I guess I’ll just have to wear a modest dress.