I’ve written once or twice that the world is very different when you walk in women’s shoes: if you’re born and socialised as male you inhabit a completely different planet to women. It’s something many of my women friends find blackly funny when I’m outraged by an experience they have every day.
There was a good example of that last night in my local, where as I often do I was sitting at the bar looking at things on my phone. From out of nowhere a pissed bloke had his arms around me and his head against mine, demanding I put down my phone so “we can have a chat”. I politely and then less politely told him to get his hands off me, which he did grudgingly. He didn’t actually do the fucking off I’d requested until one of my friends came over.
He wasn’t a no-neck football fan or a sleazy middle-aged lech in a shiny suit. Just your run of the mill sensitive indie guy who no doubt owns a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt. He’s got a child, a girl. I know this because I overheard his friend later, apologising to the bar staff for his drunken behaviour. “I’ve been trying to get him into a taxi for five hours. It’s his daughter’s first birthday tomorrow.”
It’s not something I’ve experienced before, because for pretty obvious reasons I don’t tend to be the target of that kind of behaviour. But my women friends deal with it all the time. The same friend who came over last night told me of her own experience the night before: a complete stranger had grabbed her in a bear hug and kissed her on the cheek.
It’s just part of the background noise for women, the entitlement of men who don’t just refuse to take “no” for an answer but don’t ask in the first place. And the more likely a man is to get away with it, the worse the behaviour can be. My great love, live music, has a real problem of men groping women at shows. It’s led to campaigns such as Safe Gigs For Women. And sometimes it’s even worse than that. Sweden has just held a “cis man-free” festival for women, trans women and non-binary people after multiple sexual assaults at a previous music festival.
#NotAllMen, I know. But too many.