Dear Captain Awkward,
This one might be a little long, and I am frankly afraid there might not be any good solution for it.
My senior year in college, I shared a house with wonderful friends and an additional guy, A., who most of us didn’t know, but he was a friend of one of my roommates and we needed another person on our lease, so we welcomed him aboard. While him and I were never the best of friends, we got along okay for the most part, and developed an inside joke about how much we hated each other. Unfortunately, my “joke” hatred for him has since evolved into actual repulsion.
We graduated two years ago, and I moved out to another city, but I would occasionally see A. whenever I came back to visit other friends still in town, because we are part of the same social circle. It used to be fine until a year ago, when his girlfriend and him split up. Ever since, he has been making me and other women I know extremely uncomfortable.
He is constantly making comments about our asses or tits, or how we should fuck him–as in asking literally every two minutes “wanna have sex? how about now? and now?” This would be extremely annoying and offensive, but harmless on its own; however, he is also innapropriately physical. Past incidents have included: jumping on top of me when I am lying on the couch, flipping my dress in public so everyone can see my underwear ALL AFTERNOON LONG, letting his hands slide down my friend’s back, grabbing her crotch … You get the picture. I have had to knee him in the balls on multiple occasions to get him off of me, yet somehow that doesn’t stop him the next time around. My girlfriends and I have all talked about this and we all acknowledged to each other that we are constantly on alert and uncomfortable whenever he is around. Even a friendly hug from him feels threatening at this point.
I have tried to address the situation and make him stop. A. is usually drunk we he does this, and when I tell him how predatory he is, his answer is either flipping me off or a variant of “but it’s a joke, it’s not serious, blablabla.” This makes me so unspeakably angry because he is so cloaked in male privilege that he can’t even fathom what it’s like to live in constant fear of being preyed upon. I wish I could make him understand, but I feel that my credibility with him is shot, because I am (of course) the nagging, humorless bitch with a stick up my ass who can’t take a joke. My friend who is the another main recipient of his unwanted groping does not feel as comfortable as me confronting him. She has done so once in my defense (I was very intoxicated and terrified of passing out in the same room as A. for fear of him trying to take advantage of it), but she phrased it as me being uncomfortable with him as opposed to his behavior being unacceptable to everyone subjected to it.
I am terrified that if I can’t make him understand that not taking “no” for an answer and knowingly infringing on people’s boundaries after they have repeatedly told you to stop is unacceptable, he will end up taking his “sense of humor” further and eventually rape someone (assuming he hasn’t gone this far yet). Like I have said, I only see him very occasionally when we travel, so I do not have this issue regularly with him. I will be moving out of the country soon and probably will never have to see him again (if I have anything to do with it). Some of my friends, however, will still have to see him on a regular basis.
I know that technically his attitude is no longer my problem, but I can’t exactly live with myself knowing that he is acting this way and that I haven’t done anything to change him. So my question is: should I try to confront him one more time and try to get through to him (maybe soberly this time around)? Or should I just focus on my own life and pray he never does anything truly horrific?
I’m Not Humorless, You’re Just Not Funny
(As additional information: I don’t remember him having been this way prior to his breakup, but to be honest, maybe I used to gloss over it before because he was in a committed relationship. His breakup also happened just as I was becoming better-versed in feminism and women’s issues, so I think it definitely bothers me for more precise reasons than it would have before then.)
Dear Not Humorless,
So I took it offline and turned it over to Feministe’s Jill for a measured, helpful response, since she was itching to tell someone to DTMFA. What I like about it is that she gives you a safe way to confront this guy that does not let him off the hook, and also a way to address his behavior within the larger social group. (SHUN!). Here’s Jill:
Dear Not Humorless:
But also, you never have to see him again if you don’t want to and you say you couldn’t live with yourself if you didn’t confront him, so I kind of think that you are the ideal candidate to confront him. You totally don’t have to, and are under no moral, ethical or Good Feminist obligation to do this. But if you want to, you can, and it might help (or it might not, but it might make you feel better).
But I don’t think you should go at this alone. It sounds like your girlfriends mostly agree that this guy is a Grade-A Dickface, but they haven’t been so willing to back you up because, I don’t know, women are socialized to be nicey-nice people-pleasers who don’t call dudes out on their gross behavior? Go through the girlfriends list and get in touch with the ones you think agree A has a problem, and start talking strategy. If you’re all in the same city, or if you’re visiting the city where most of them live, I find brunch (with many mimosas) is a good opportunity to hash things like this out. Be like, “Yo, girls, is anyone else totally creeped out by A? I think we have talked about this before, but I am totally creeped out by him.” Exchange stories about how you are all totally creeped out by him, and how he is wildly inappropriate and makes you all feel threatened. Then be like, “So I know I’m leaving the country and I will never have to deal with him again, BUT I don’t want it on my conscience that I knew he was so terrible and did nothing. So I’d like to confront him, and it would make it a lot easier if I had some back-up.” Suggest that you and one other lady sit down with A, sober, and lay out why he’s making you all uncomfortable. Also suggest that if A doesn’t change his behavior, you all agree that a good old-fashioned social shunning is in order. And really agree to that one. Say it a bunch of times: If A doesn’t change, we’re not hanging out with him anymore.
Hopefully your girls will be on board. It’s hard to collectively lay out all the ways that A is awful and predatory and a potential rapist and then be like, “But eh, I don’t think we should do anything,” so definitely do that part first. Then decide who is actually going to talk to A. You sound like you would like to be in the room, so you should be in the room. The second lady in the room should maybe be someone who A perceives as more neutral — he has no doubt caught on that you don’t like him and he’s probably tagged you as the local Feminazi Bitch, so it’ll help to show up with someone he trusts.
Then see if A wants to grab coffee, or talk in some non-alcohol-related venue. Sit down with him, make five minutes of small talk, and then be like, “So look, A, we wanted to talk to you because you’re our friend and we’ve known you for a long time, but you are doing some things that are making us really uncomfortable, and it’s making it hard for us to keep up this friendship. I know everyone gets a little rowdy when they drink, but when we’re out drinking you end up touching us in ways that make us feel pretty violated. And since we’re friends, we want to give you the benefit of the doubt here, because maybe you don’t realize how much we really really dislike being touched in sexual ways, and how much we also really really dislike being asked repeatedly if we want to have sex. So we wanted to bring it to your attention, because we know that you also value our friendship and we assume you don’t want to be doing things that make us feel bad.”
This is obviously way more politeness and consideration than he deserves, but if you approach it very gently and frame it as “We want to continue this friendship and your actions are getting in the way of that,” any decent human being will respond with an apology and changed behavior. Hopefully A does that! Hopefully he is totally mortified and apologetic, and doesn’t get defensive or brush off your concerns, and then hopefully he acts like a big boy and quits grabbing your boobs.
I suspect, though, that he will get defensive or dismissive; in that case, keep your tone even and try to keep the higher ground as The Rational One. Because here’s what some dudes do when they’re confronted: They dismiss you, or they laugh at you, or they needle you in ways that are intended to get a rise out of you, so before you know it your voice is squeaking and you’re stuttering and you’re all pink in the face because you’re so frustrated and then, BAM, you’re an irrational bitch. It ain’t fair, but try to avoid that trap. That might mean, at some point in the conversation, saying, “A, I think we’ve explained our concerns. I understand that you don’t agree, but I hope you’ll think about what we’ve said, because this has really gotten in the way of our friendship and I’m generally just concerned about how you treat women. I hope you’ll make some changes,” and then walking away before you get too heated.
And if he doesn’t respond well and his behavior doesn’t change? Fuck him. And not in the fun way. Don’t see him when you go to visit. Support the girlfriends who do live in his town when they avoid social functions that he attends. Feel free to talk some shit. Shun away.
Also, are there male friends or boyfriends involved here? Because the actions of other dudes in a group can be pretty powerful influencers on the most terrible dude among them. If you have mutual male friends, maybe bring up your issues with A to them. A lot of decent guys don’t want to go all White Knight unsolicited, but if they know you’re uncomfortable, they might be more likely in the moment to be like, “Hey A, grabbing that girl is assault, brotha, knock it off.” And if your girlfriends do get on board with the “no more hanging out with A until he stops being such a proto-rapist,” their partners and male friends should really be on board too. Again, it ain’t fair, but sometimes dude-pressure is the best pressure. Guys like A can write off female complaints because (duh) guys like A are misogynists. It’s harder for them to defend themselves to their bros.
And look, maybe none of this will work. This guy might not change, or your girlfriends might really disappoint you by not wanting to go along with this. If that’s the case, you did your part — you did way more than your part — and you should feel very brave and good about yourself and you should not hold onto even a droplet of guilt, because doing this is hard. Good luck.
111 thoughts on “Reader question #75: Guest post! My “friend” is making me very uncomfortable with his touching and sexual comments.”
KICK HIM IN THE BALLS
… I mean, ummm, Jill’s suggestions sound really good and helpful and rational?
BUT STILL KICK HIM IN THE BALLS
Yeah, the kneeing clearly isn’t doing it. Which is strange. Could he be wearing a cup?
My Google Reader caught the original giant rant and it is awesome. I agree with Hulk 100%.
Dude needs a “come to Jesus” meeting. You don’t owe it to anyone to be the one to bring him to Jesus, so to speak, but if you want to take on this responsibility, more power to you. The suggestions above are fantastic. The only thing I would add, is to make very certain to stay rational, and above all, leave no wiggle room in your statements. What he is doing is not ok, not funny, and there is no room on this planet for any “Yes, but” statements from him. His only possible, acceptable response to you should be “I apologize profusely for my actions, and promise that it will stop.” No qualifiers, no nothing.
Also, there is some wisdom in tipping off the boyfriends/partners/etc of the women in your circle. Rightly or wrongly, there is wisdom in the traditionally male approach to problems like this, which tends to be more direct, and blunt.
And if he requires another kneeing in the balls, make sure to follow through. You want to keep the speed up throughout the kneeing.
i’m all about the come to jesus meeting. i’m all about a group of women using their superpowerz. buuuuuuuuut i think he is going to be more likely to brush it off as a bunch of bitches harshing his gig. if your dude friends don’t suck, i think you and the other women should try to enlist them. it’s like the time my brothers went behind my back and told a relative to stop being a douchebag. that if he wasn’t going to go to my wedding to theLeon because he was black? that he shouldn’t go to any of our other other family gatherings, either. [a full on SHUN]. i think this worked because of two things a. because i didn’t know about it (therefore i was blameless) and b. the dude code.
Give your brothers a high-five for me.
And I think you’re right. This is one of those situations where other men stepping in can really help.
Yes, involving the men is essential. Maybe that Come to Jesus meeting can be a co-ed affair.
The research shows that rapists and predators operate in social spaces where they feel okay to operate. If the letter writer takes this problem to the men in their social group and the men are like “But he’s our friend, why are you making it so weeeeeeeird with your feeeeeeeeelings and boundarieeeeeeees?” then those men need to be TOLD (and possibly SHUNNED).
i found out 15 years later at his memorial. they did it separately, so they didn’t even know that the others had gone to him. i was damn impressed. i think i’ll keep them.
ARGH. Also, GAH. Sorry, Qs like this from The Ladies make me see red, and I’m working on moderating that reaction, but seriously: ahem WHY ARE YOU TOLERATING THIS BEHAVIOR AND WHY HAVE YOU TOLERATED IT FOR SO LONG? IT IS NOT OKAY.
If you’re worried about coming across as a humorless bitch to your friends, then maybe you need some better friends. Definitely, loop in your friends (both harrassed ladies and your dude-friends), but ultimately, I see absolutely no value in hanging onto someone like this in your social cricle. And if you discomfort isn’t important to your ‘friends,’ again….get better ones! As for your credibility being shot…first of all, it’s not, but secondly, yeah, it’s harder to put the hammer down if you didn’t do it the first time – which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it now! You should!
Personally, I have no problem being the humorless bitch, having crossed the great Divide Of Not Caring What People Think of Me. Don’t hang out with this guy! Don’t hang out with him when you’ve been drinking! Don’t hang out with him when HE’S been drinking! Don’t hang out with him at all! Great googly moogly, life is too short to waste it being around people who make you edgy and scared and uncomfortable. His potential future behavior is not your responsibility, it’s his.
GOOD THING HULK WORE PURPLE SHORTS UNDER PANTS TODAY.
I think I am Commander Banana’s Sekrit Doppelganger, because (a) these people are not acting like your friends, (b) SHOOT THAT MOTHERFUCKER DOWN ALREADY, and (c) I also use the phrase “great googly moogly.”
But the important part is SHOOT THAT MOTHERFUCKER DOWN. Anyone who thinks you need to be *sensitive* to his *feeeeelings* is a party to his dickishness.
Basic tenet of decency: women are human beings, not fuckholes.
oh, i don’t know, the important part might be to incorporate “great googly moogly” into your lexicon.
i’m awaiting the perfect opportunity. much like i waited for years to spring the, “this isn’t oprah, i don’t need to hear your life story” retort. it was worth the wait. it’s only a matter of time before we can be together “great googly moogly”, only a matter of time. ❤
The big cynical part of me believes this guy is JUST NOT LISTENING, no matter what anyone does or says. Confronting doesn’t seem to make any difference, as per your observations. Every woman who knows him is a grown-up and will have to repel him on her own when you are gone – and STOP INVITING HIM ALONG when you are there. It looks like the best you can do, or hope for, is to get advance warning of when he will be in the same place as you were planning to be, so you can avoid being there. This may feel like you are the one “paying” for the situation, but consider this: if these women continue to insist on inviting a known asshole in your social circle when they know he repulses you, they are NOT YOUR FRIENDS. Also, every woman new to this dysfunctional social group deserves fair warning of the giant douchebag, so she can run before he touches her.
Just wanted to add to the chorus that making this a co-ed affair would probably be really helpful. Not only will it make him more likely to listen, but if things go bad there will be a “neutral” witness for later when A complains to the friend group about how the humorless bitches tried to make his peepee feel small.
Also, I’m trying to figure out if Jill’s boob-grab response of “that’s assault, brotha” is a well-placed Billy Madison reference. If so, she’s even more awesome than I thought.
YES IT IS A BILLY MADISON REFERENCE! I’m glad someone got it.
I consider you Miles Davis
Wow, I misspelled my own name. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.
What I’d like to suggest is: cans of spray paint.
The sort that’s hell to get out of clothing.
And all your female friends in general agreement about when he goes over the line. Because he will. Carry the cans, and when it happens, produce the cans of spray paint, and spray his clothes.
Not his face (because that’s dangerous) and don’t aim for bare skin – just his clothes.
Right away, he has to leave. When he complains, flip him off or tell him “it’s just a joke, it’s not serious”.
Repeat as necessary.
When he’s sober again, have that conversation with him about how you all collectively decided that since he enjoys making you feel like shit, and he won’t stop just because you all hate it so much, the minute he starts on the crap, you’re going to spray paint his clothes. And you’re going to do it again, every time he tries to make you feel like shit with his nasty little creepy “have sex with me” lines, because at least then he’ll go away. If he tries to claim he didn’t know he was making you feel like shit, “it was just a joke”, tell him oh well then, spraypainting his clothes was “just a joke”, and since you found it ever so funny, you’ll do it again whenever you feel like it.
I admit this is not a terribly practical fantasy, but I was clenching my teeth while reading your account of his behaviour, and writing this down was the only way I could stop myself from HULK SMASH.
If you’re looking for something less permanent than spraypaint, why not a squirt bottle like the one I use to make the cat stop scratching the furniture?
Also, HULK SMASH GRABBY OBLIVIOUS DUDES.
More seriously, since you’re unlikely to have spray cans to hand – order a pint glass of a soft drink. Orange soda, cola, whatever. No ice, no carbonated water. Won’t cost much.
When he starts his thing, dump the pint of soft drink over his head.
He’ll have to leave because he’ll be wet, sticky, what he’s wearing will be stained and damp, he’ll be a mess. And he’ll look pretty funny.
And your line is “Just a joke! Only joking! Ha ha!”
This is beautiful, not to mention classic. If it makes you feel like a bitch, pretend you’re an old-fashioned starlet in the movies! They threw drinks at people who were being uncool too.
You know, I sometimes think it is a shame that the whole “Throw drinks at people who are being uncool” thing went away. Much like some of the 1930s clothes, that should make a comeback.
The real problem with the drink-tossing idea (she says, regretfully) is that potentially, it escalates. You dumped a pint of orange soda over his head one Saturday night when he was drunk and obnoxious, he remembers it and next Saturday he tosses a pint of beer at you.
Probably best done – if at all – in combination with the sit-down-and-talk thing. Wednesday night, get together with all the women and list all the creepy-obnoxious things he’s done. Thursday night get together with all the men and explain to the guys the creepy-obnoxious things he’s done. Friday night, get together with all the gang and explain to Mr Creepy-Hands why he’s obnoxious and why, if he doesn’t stop, right now, no more excuses, he’s getting SHUNNED. HULK SHUN. Maybe he claims he thought this was funny, maybe he says it was just a joke.
Then Saturday night you’re all partying and Mr Obnoxious gets creepy-handed and then you do the pint of orange soda thing over his hair and it goes down his shirt and wets his pants and his hair is matted and sticky and he looks like an orange mess. HULK THROW SODA. HULK SMASH PATRIARCHY WITH SOFT DRINKS. Maybe follow it up with a cola.
Then on Sunday you point out to Mr Handy-Obnoxious that what you did to him was done only after he’d continued to be creepy and nasty and he’d been explicitly warned not to, and furthermore, all you did was make him feel as sticky and unpleasant and messed-up as he’d always made you-all feel. Only just once, not so many times that all of you were sick of it. And you never want to see him again, but if you do, well, you’re going to throw soft drinks like the 1930s were coming back in style and every single one of you was Bette Davies at her stylish best.
And then on Monday night you all have 1930s Movie Night in, and you don’t invite Obnoxious because he is SHUNNED.
There. HULK HAVE TUESDAY NIGHT OFF. HULK REST FROM SMASH. HULK BAKE ORGANIC SCONES FOR FEMINIST POETRY NIGHT.
The only thing I’m afraid of with the captain’s water bottle or even this is that he’ll think you’re ‘playing’. And ‘playing’ means you’re into it, which means more bad behavior on his part.
Not if you spray the water in his face.
Or use Liquid Ass.
Oooo, tempting…. Personally I think whatever this guy gets he deserves.
…that is a nice idea. Has anyone developed a handy little non-leak pocket spray for water only?
WD-40 comes in little pocket-size cans. You can tell him it’s ’cause he clearly enjoys being slimy.
It could be a mild pepper spray, instead (something that won’t incapacitate, but that would be an unpleasant suprise). Or something else that’s a mild irritant, maybe diluted vinegar. Or something smelly!
I was the humorless bitch in my circle of friends a few years ago for not laughing along with this kind of behavior from a male friend. It went on for two years, with the participation and encouragement of some of our friends. The one night the guy held me down and tried to rape in full view of those friends. Sure, we’d been drinking. All in good fun right?
I wish I could go back and kick him in the balls much, much sooner.
Wow, cmb. I’m so sorry. You don’t have to see this wad of useless humanity anymore, do you?
When I invent my Retribution-Purposes-Only Time Machine(tm), I’ll give you a ring and we’ll go back in time with our kickin’ boots. Okay?
Yeah, you know, I wish the people here who are berating the LW for ‘tolerating’ and ‘putting up with’ this for so long would actually put themselves into her shoes. When no one around you thinks it’s a big deal and everyone swears he’s really just a nice guy, you start to think that you’re the one who’s got the problem.
Honestly, the situation the LW described makes me stabby but some of the self-righteous ‘HOW COULD YOU LET HIM DO THIS’ comments make me even angrier.
She can stop being around him, and stop being around people who treat her like crap by tolerating this dude’s behavior. That’s the only thing she can do. That’s not berating her. It’s giving her realistic advice.
There’s a world of difference between “Don’t hang out with these friends anymore if they enable this bullshit” and “How could you tolerate this/put up with this/let him do this”. One is constructive. The other is victim blaming bullshit.
Oh my goodness. Just. wow. I want to say I can’t imagine tolerating that behavior, but I remember a me that totally would, mostly. My guess is that everyone else is right in that shunning and a good talking to by any male friends will yield the most benefit. He’s already demonstrated quite handily that he doesn’t give a crap about what any of you ladies think, or he wouldn’t act like such a jerk.
Best of luck in future dealings, and if you do confront him, come back; we’d love to hear how it turned out.
I guess I’m just not understanding why he gets invited into your life again, and again, and again. HE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, he a predator, therefore he should not be in your friend circle. Period. He doesn’t respect it when you say “No!” anyway, what makes you think that this time he’s just gonna magically “get it” if you just “talk it out”? He can’t see reason, I think it’s a waste of time. Even if he apologized, with the stuff that he’s already done to you, he shouldn’t get to still share the same space.
This is my belief, that as soon as someone starts to molest somebody, the privilege of the molester’s bodily autonomy does not have to be respected by the assaulted. You could fight back, and you should feel empowered to defend yourself to the point that the other person is completely incapacitated if need be. I’ve defended myself in that way when I could, and I’ll do it again if necessary. But that can be a pricey decision to make for various reasons…
What I don’t understand is why you have put up with this for so long. Even friends are only allowed so much leeway, and a few hands of grabass are it. Tell him he’s done, and tell it in no uncertain terms because you’ve already tried it first and IT HASN’T WORKED. Tell him if he lays a hand on you again you will break one of his fingers. (Grab his pinkie, bend it back till he screams like an eagle, if he doesn’t back off, keep pushing back till it breaks. If he’s still in your vicinity trying to grab, seize the next finger, start bending it back till he invokes the names of God.) If he brings up the subject of sex, LEAVE THE ROOM. If he’s there when you enter, LEAVE THE HOUSE.
You have the right not to feel slimed by someone, however sorry he may feel for himself. Just because you shared a residence does not mean you are now part of his private harem. Stand up for your personal self-respect and dignity! And if the others don’t agree, find new friends! This shouldn’t be hard. You deserve the sanctity of your space, and you deserve to feel comfortable among friends.
HULK APPROVE THIS SMASHY MESSAGE.
Hulk approve! However, Jennifer would like to amplify TangleThis’s link to this classic Fugitivus post on the “Why have you let this gone on for so long?” questions.
All of the hulk references remind me of my good friend over at http://twitter.com/feministhulk !
HULK LOVE FEMINIST HULK, IS JEALOUS HULK DID NOT THINK OF IT FIRST.
MOSTLY HULK WRITE HULK-KU.
I kind of love you for that pun.
I am now officially smitten due to that pun.
HULK RESUME SAY
NOT DETAIL-ORIENTED, HATE TEAMWORK
SMASH ALL KHAKI
DANCEABLE POP SONG
MAKE HULK SING INTO HAIRBRUSH
HULK FEEL EMPOWERED
BLABBY PHONE LADY
HULK SMASH YOU, SMASH TINY PHONE
HULK NOT MISS MANNERS
Okay keep this up and I may need to propose marriage.
Jill’s advice is spot on, for a reason that seems to be getting a little lost in the rage comments (though srsly, BALL KICKING 100% OF THE TIME. My lizard brain is totally in favor of this.).
This isn’t a “friend” problem, this is a “tribe” problem, so the tribe’s gonna have to get together and solve this. A is not a friend, but he’s a member of LW’s tribe. LW can’t shun him by herself without shunning the whole tribe, and she doesn’t want to do that because the rest of the tribe are her friends, who she presumably likes and wants to stay friends with.
Furthermore, it is not the tribe’s fault that this one guy is completely unacceptable. He was a roommate, and then it seemed weird not to invite him to parties, and then it would be awkward not to keep him friended on Facebook, etc. Politeness is an occasionally unfortunate social glue. As long as no one said “Hey, everyone? A makes me feel unsafe.” then tribal cohesion was only reinforced. A is “just like that” and A is “harmless” because he hasn’t hurt anybody. Yet. A’s safety is the tribe, but that is also his weakness. If no one defends him, then what he does is indefensible. That’s why LW needs the rest of her friends to agree with her.
No one is completely off the blame hook for letting A get away with increasingly awful behavior, so I do understand the guilt you’re carrying LW, and the anger people are expressing about LW’s tribe. But the onus is really on A for a) being a screaming douchebag in the first place and b) taking advantage of a group of people too polite to call him on it. I understand the guilt and anger, but LW, you don’t have to carry that guilt, and hopefully, the tribe will have the same amount of anger themselves.
So yeah. Right on, Jill. The tribe needs to be called in, and A has some douchebaggery to answer for. Perhaps there will be a shunning.
I very much agree with this post, especially if some of the other women are dating friends of the Douche. Part of it may be the socialized niceness in women – but on the other hand, breaking social dynamics can be absolutely terrifying if you find yourself on the out. This definitely needs to be a group sit down so she can talk to all of them, calmly and rationally, about why this is upsetting her – and then if they can’t see her point, she may need to make a difficult decision about whether to break with this cult of personality or not. Whether they believe it or not, they are acting as enablers to his behavior.
In fact, this is one of the reasons I have issues with “tribes”. (I have other ones involving the language, but that’s neither here nor there.)
This sort of tribe problem happens a lot. I find it especially happens in tribes that are very big on proving how they are “building their own community” or otherwise more awesome than the general people. (Of course, these communities also have lots of powerful positives, don’t get me wrong.)
The tribe NEEDS to be involved if it is going to be solved, and sadly, my experience is that far too often the tribe finds it easier to cut the “complainer” out. (I actually think the judgment is far more, “which person is easier to cut” – facts of the case have nothing to do with it.)
I really do have to wonder how this guy’s behaviour was tolerated for so long. Part of me wonders if it isn’t the geek social fallacies at work: http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html
If the douche intervention does not bear fruit, reversing the situation through the shunning mentioned above sounds like a good idea. I have the feeling that, given the guy’s previous dismissals, he likely will not change after being talked to. However, I still think the intervention (and getting girl and guy friends in on this) is a good idea. Even if this all leads to a mass shunning, I think it’s good that he’ll know WHY he’s being left in the dust. If his conscience won’t stop him when it comes to crossing boundaries, maybe there are consequences for his actions WILL get him to think.
Also, having read some other statements, I feel the need to clarify on the ‘tolerated’ part of my previous statement. ‘Not tolerating’ for me would have been running in the other direction and avoiding him forever, rather than bringing up the behaviour in a confrontation. I honestly do think you’re brave for considering a confrontation for the good of others when my approach would have been to cut ties, possibly without ever mentioning what was wrong.
My first statement was badly worded in a way I now realize can sound judgemental, and for that I apologize.
I come to you today as a man committed to becoming more conscious in every way. I feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine. I also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present. I want to apologize to you and make amends for those actions, in order to bring forth a new era of co-creation with you.
Love and respect are all groovy. But worship? Worship is exchanging one set of unreasonable expectations and burdens for another. Something to think about.
Yeah, the “Dear Woman” video makes me want to sew my vagina shut (why won’t any of those guys blink?), and the Funny or Die version is just kind of dickish and unfunny?
What a huge jerk! Men like that are such pigs. He probably thinks he is all that a woman wants and that he can bring to you all the pleasures of the world. -___-
What he is doing is inappropriate (understatement of the month), annoying, demeaning and sexist. You should talk to him .. but not in a nice way. Start ranting about how men like him are the reason why women become radical and that there is a huge wave of feminists out to get him. Tell him about the history of women fighting for their freedom. Tell him all of the laws against sexual assault and inappropriate male behavior. Men like him do not only find strong women threatening, but stay faaaaaaaar away from them. Just keep talking, and if it doesn’t work, let your fists do the talking.
Look. I agree that A’s behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop and should have stopped, long ago. But everyone in this thread that is all “I just don’t understand why the letter writer let this go on for so long!” needs to hop over and read this classic Fugitivus post ASAP. (I would quote a bit, but it’s allnecessary and all relevant.)
What I’m saying is: be kinder. And also: it very well could have been you.
For many of us women here… at a point in time, this was us. I’ve certainly been in a situation similar, although I decided to take drastic action in order to halt any repeats of the behavior earlier on. We’ve all dealt with it in our different ways.
Most people here, as I’m understanding it, are kinda leaning less towards “the good-girl rules” and more towards “maim the mofo”. I happen to agree with the latter. I feel that with foolhardy types like this, sometimes shunning isn’t really enough. This “A” does not deserve any niceness, kindness, consideration, tolerance, or anything sympathetic. If this poster decided to completely snap on him and go ape-shit… I would completely understand. I might even give her a pat on the back and a hug.
All I’m saying is, this “A” is predictable. She should use that knowledge to her advantage and treat him accordingly. Best of luck!
Yeah, I was too. And the ‘how could you’ BS didn’t help one iota.
Cut that shit out.
This isn’t an abusive boyfriend or husband or partner the LW is talking about. She does not have to be in this man’s presence. She has the right to choose good people to be friends with, and to get validation from other women who have been there. Sometimes others’ anger helps me get in touch with mine.
Yeah, I’m not dissing anger, I’m pretty pissed off about this myself. I’m not saying she shouldn’t find better friends. I’m saying that when you tell someone “How could you tolerate that” is victim-blaming bullshit. And not helpful.
I’m not sure if you’re responding directly to my comment or to the post generally. But in case it was unclear, I was not suggesting anyone be kind to A. I was suggesting that “how could she/they tolerate this for so long?” could be replaced by a gentler “I’m sorry that this situation has gone on for so long” or a more honest “I wish I could say that I would have acted differently, but that might not be the case” as Ace did above. Whether it is intentional or not – and I don’t believe that it is! – the wall of “how could she?” I read on my way down the thread made me feel upset and accused, and I’m not the letter writer.
This comment x1000. If you’re not a naturally assertive person, confrontation with anyone is scary. That’s not even getting into all the complexities of male/female social dynamics and/or peer pressure. Confrontation with men can be difficult, especially with men like this, because you really don’t know what his reaction will be. It took me years of dealing with inappropriate touching/conversation/etc. before I finally found it in me to start “pushing back,” so to speak.
(Sometimes, in those situations, you’ll also be surprised at how many people agreed with you – and were just too afraid to be the one who said it.)
Well-said. The Letter Writer is in the perfect position to do any confronting (with the help of the tribe) because she is leaving.
Thanks, that link is completely relevant and I could also do with less victim-blaming up in here.
Does A stand for asshole? ’cause that’s what he is.
I feel like if you’ve already kneed him in the balls, words will do no good. In my experience, a knee in the balls would stop most guys in their tracks–that kind of pain will be remembered, and all it would take, for most guys, is a threatening look and a lifted knee, and they will stop. If they haven’t, done.
It’s not him you need to talk to–it’s everyone else in that circle. Look at it this way: you’re leaving. You will only be back very occasionally, if at all. Talk to every single one of them, bring up this fact, and say that on those rare occasions when you do return, you are not going to put up with being assaulted–’cause you’re there to see your friends and have a good time. Tell your girlfriends to stop putting up with it–stop hanging out with him–because you certainly are. Tell your guy friends that this guy is no good. You’re done with being assaulted and harassed (’cause that’s what he’s DOING). You want to hang out with them, not him, and that’s a condition of hanging out with you–that Asshole is not around. Furthermore, tell said guy friends that if they care about their girlfriends they need to either stick up for them, or cut this guy out of their lives. Actually, they need to do BOTH.
I’m really astounded that everyone has let this go on for so long. Every guy friend I have would get red-in-the-face-let-me-kick-his-ass if they heard about a man doing this to me, let alone if they saw it themselves.
Not Humorless, this is not normal. This is not okay, in the least. You’re right to feel angry, and you’re right to want to knee this sucker in the balls until they shrivel up and fall off. No one, NO ONE, is allowed to touch you without your consent. Doesn’t matter if they are a “friend.” Doesn’t matter if they’ve been in the circle for a long time. None of that matters. This guy is an asshole, what he’s doing is wrong, and you’re under no obligation whatsoever to try to fix him. You are obligated to protect yourself, and your friends. This guy is not your friend. A friend respects you. A friend respects your space, a friend respects your wishes, and a friend does NOT grab you, pounce on you, pressure you to have sex. A friend does NOT do this. Ever.
1. Stop thinking of this guy as a friend. Seriously, stop.
2. Chat with friends.
3. Everybody be DONE with this guy.
4. Everybody watch out for one another.
I knew a guy like this in college–I met him freshman year–he tried to touch me when we were drunk–I stopped him. I crashed in a neighboring guy’s room. Had a seizure. This guy went to the hospital with me and berated me the whole way for having a seizure. A good friend of mine picked us up, and Asshole ditched me as soon as we got back to campus. Good Friend was furious. The next year, Asshole pounced on a female friend of mine and got grabby. His roommate grabbed him and threw him across the room, and got in his face. My girlfriend was understandably frightened of him from then on–and he knew it. He tried to scare her whenever he saw her around campus. So I, and other Friends tagged along with her. When he appeared, we’d hover menacingly until he took off. Eventually he left her alone. Why? ’cause he was a coward. He liked to prey on women. But because friends of the women he tried to prey on stood up to him, he couldn’t operate. He fled. That’s what friends do. This is why I’m astounded, Humorless–because this scenario, the one that played out on my campus, is how it should have gone for Asshole and your friends. Friends look out for one another. They stand up for and with one another. They get angry at Assholes who try to hurt their friends and throw the assholes clear across the room like the sacks of shit they are.
I’m sort of mystified. I read this letter and think “SEXUAL ASSAULT”! The guy clearly doesn’t care that his behavior makes you uncomfortable, and you’ve already tried treating him like a grown-up, so I don’t see why he deserves anything more than a kick in the nuts and visit from the police. He has committed a crime multiple times with multiple witnesses, and nobody has done this?? WHY NOT??
No kidding…call the cops! Just talking to him already hasn’t worked. “Don’t report it, just talk to him again and if that doesn’t work, ignore it” helps reinforce that it isn’t really a big deal and that there shouldn’t be any consequences for him sexually assaulting people (the most serious consequence is that he gets away with it.) It’s assault! I don’t think we’d get the same advice if the guy kept punching people in the face when he was drunk. When the cops come and he has to say “yeah, I grabbed her crotch, but it was funny” at least they might remember him as a troublemaker when the next person calls about him sexually assaulting her.
I was in the LW’s position, and was shamed for saying something, because the d00d was really a nice guy! He didn’t mean anything by it! He was harmless! (Even though he kept doing it when he and everyone else knew it made me uncomfortable.) I was being unfair! And uptight and humorless! (Of course, then if you don’t say anything, it’s totally your fault for not saying anything.)
Throw this in with the larger conditioning you get growing up female, and frankly, I’m not surprised that douchebags like A get away with this shit. I am also not surprised–but am still sickened by–the ridiculous blaming language going on in this comments thread.
I’m glad that some people here are super-special snowflakes who never were intimidated or shamed into putting up with this kind of crap. However, not everyone is as super-awesome as you so how about you drop the “HOW COULD YOU LET HIM DO THIS” and shove that ‘tude where the sun doesn’t shine. Seriously.
We are in the same brain space.
None of us are “super-special snowflakes who were never intimidated or shamed into putting up with this kind of crap.” Every single woman here has experienced some form of this. The LW asked for advice. We who have been there are giving her the benefit of our experience, and our kick-ass support, and our validation that she does NOT have to be nice to assholes like this!
Nobody is blaming HER for his behavior. He’s the asshole. SHE does not have to take it, no matter what her “friends” think.
For the third time, TH, prefacing a comment with “how could you” or “how could she” tolerate/put up with/let him is fucking victim blaming bullshit. She came here for advice, not sanctimonious comments berating her about how she’s somehow to blame for tolerating/putting up with this.
Give advice. Tell her she doesn’t have to put up with that shit. Tell her it’s fine to lose this pack of ‘friends’ if this is what they think is acceptable behavior. But don’t go fucking defending people who start things off with “I don’t understand why you put up with this.” That is fucking bullshit.
Exactly. It seriously is bullshit. She puts up with it because the group norm is that this is somehow OK to overlook!
Show me where I said that, and I’ll apologize. Show me where I defended it, and ditto. I explained my thinking; you keep insisting I said/meant something else.
And stop swearing at me. For crying out loud.
Hey, Tinfoil Hattie, welcome, you’re well within your rights to ask people to not swear directly at you in future comments-
In general, this is a goddamn fucking curse-like-a-sailor zone of asskickery. We can say the word “cunt” here, if someone is being cunty (as in, Maggie Smith is amazingly cunty in
DowntownDownton Abbey, OMG, I love her!)
And while this is a feminist blog because it is a blog and I am a feminist, it is not necessarily a heavily moderated “safe” space. Since it is a space where people come to ask questions about how to behave and about what behavior is ok, it is much closer to a 101 Space, where people are allowed to screw it up sometimes. You can link people to old classic awesome posts (or even Feminism 101), but you can’t berate them for never having read that stuff, because maybe they haven’t been hanging out at the same places you hang out. I have no time for trolls or mansplainers, and while I rarely get them here when I do most of their comments never make it out of moderation.
Finally, Sheelzebub, tell me if I’m wrong, but I believe her comment about the “How could you?” language was describing some of the comments in this thread overall, not directly at you for your specific use of language. HULK OBVIOUSLY THINK ANGER HAS ITS USES and that this A. should have been flushed from this friend group like a dead goldfish long ago, but I’d like to keep the conversation focused on what the Letter Writer can do in the future now that she’s not going to take it anymore.
Okay, good talk.
Fourth comment in the thread (in all-caps, even!):
“ARGH. Also, GAH. Sorry, Qs like this from The Ladies make me see red, and I’m working on moderating that reaction, but seriously: ahem WHY ARE YOU TOLERATING THIS BEHAVIOR AND WHY HAVE YOU TOLERATED IT FOR SO LONG? IT IS NOT OKAY.”
Little bit later:
…The next one after that:
I’m assuming there were similar comments on Feministe.
When that started, I don’t think you were even commenting; Sheelzebub didn’t address her comments to you. She was talking about phrasing like that up there. (Incidentally, it also made me very uncomfortable, since A: RAPE CULTURE, and also because this specific man is not obnoxious but scary.)
I don’t see that you did blame this woman for her own abuse. Other people did, and then you complained when Sheelzebub pointed that out. She is still, so far as I can tell, trying to clarify that this isn’t about you. And you just aren’t taking not for an answer.
…Okay, so I’m just gonna go take an internet feminism timeout and watch Harry Potter Part Seven Part One.
(It’s Downton Abbey, btw. Downtown Abbey is the series in my head where Maggie Smith plays a steampunk London brothel madam. (They’re actually spies.) Have you seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie?)
Thanks for the correction on the typo, and the idea of Maggie Smith fitting somewhere in the Cherie M. Priest Boneshaker/Dreadnought universe…I will think about that all day.
I also need to see HP7:P1 so I can catch up with pop culture.
Look, speaking of awesome badass British actors of a certain age about whom I have totally inappropriate feelings, you’ve seen all of The Borgias, right? Because it has Jeremy Irons, and it is the best thing of all time. Best. Ever. Jeremy Irons! And I keep trying to come up with words to describe how gorgeously trashy it is. But I’m basically on gchat going, “Pope Jeremy Irons just went down on a redhead! It was a political metaphor! He was explaining the French conquest of Naples! And then a guy got killed right in the face! Because he impregnated the wrong lady! But it wasn’t Pope Jeremy Irons’ fault! Duel! There’s a duel! Jeremy Irons!”
I have avoided it before now because I hated the 2 episodes of The Tudors I managed to watch…but the prospect of Pope Jeremy Irons causes a funny feeling down in my pants.
Also, have I told you lately that I love you?
I liked The Tudors after a while–largely because of actors like Jeremy Northam, James Freyn, that Alice Krieg lookalike who plays a Sforza on The Borgias, Natalie Dormer, Poor Man’s Donald Sutherland–but it was a lot trashier. And Henry (arguably accurately) was a lot more one-note. His character saw to his advantage, period. That did get old after a while. I would rather have seen a series based on the life of Thomas Cromwell, or the life of Thomas More (please, HBO). Or the life of Elizabeth I (pretty please!).
Pope Jeremy Irons is a more complex character. He has appetites and seeks power, but he also genuinely cares for his family, and feels genuine remorse when he hurts people he cares about (this happens a lot). Also, he genuinely loves and respects women as people, after his fashion. It took a couple of episodes for the plots to start involving each other, but by Lucrezia’s wedding, it was fantastic.
I’ll stop swearing when you stop putting words in my mouth, TH.
YOU are the one who came in and answered arguments I never made. YOU replied to posts that weren’t addressed to you, and acted like I said no one had the right to tell the LW that this behavior was unacceptable and that it was okay to stand up for herself and get out of the situation. You did this THREE times.
*I* was addressing the “How could you tolerate this” victim blaming language that was in this thread. Had you actually bothered to read my posts.
You want me to stop swearing at you? THEN STOP LYING ABOUT WHAT I SAID.
This guy sounds like a straight-up misogynist. If all this started after his breakup, he’s probably acting out his rage by humiliating any and all women within reach.
I stopped speaking to an entire group of college friends for their failure to stand up for the women in the group for things exactly like this. Nobody likes to abandon friendships, but honestly, I don’t miss them at all.
Hear, hear. Walking through the fire is cleansing.
I personally think removing yourself from any situations where he is involved is the best answer – be it the group or groups you are hanging with or just him.
People who tolerate him are fools and or misogynistic themselves. There are not enough hours in life to have to bother with this man. He seriously should be taken out of your group of friends. He is dangerous and not worth the time and in all likelihood not going to be susceptible to rehabilitation.
Leaving some advice now (similar to a comment I left at Feministe):
Frankly, I’d want to know who is inviting A to these get togethers–is it one of the women friends or one of the guys? And I’d want to know why other people watched this behavior and gave it a pass. I’m 42 and really surly these days and have eviserated friends for giving shit like that a pass. But I remember what it was like when I was younger, and some practical advice (sans the “how could you allow this” type bullshit) would be helpful.
So–I’d tell the LW to do one of three things:
1) Take Jill’s advice, but don’t be surprised if the dudes don’t back you up. I haven’t had much experience with dudes backing me up in situations like this. (There have been one or two, and we will be friends until one of us croaks, but most haven’t been.) Hell, there are a lot of women who will brush it off or ask you how you could put up with it, blah blah blah.
2) Tase his ass the next time he puts his hands on you, and the next time he asks you if he can have sex with you (and asks you repeatedly), tell him to shut the fuck up, that he’s a tiresome shitstain, and that he’s diminishing any chances of any human companionship when he pulls this crap. Be the crazy bitch. You’ll probably lose friends, but fuck it, if they think you have to put up with that for his comfort, they’re not worth keeping anyway. (I did put a douchebag in a painful wrist lock when he grabbed me in an underground walkway in Sheffield. HOWEVER. Getting physical has reprucussions, including getting punched back. “Don’t hit girls/women” is a myth. So while I fantasize about throwing someone like A through a wall, I recognize that not everyone has the ability to do this. (Hell. I don’t have the ability to do this. I just have a really bad fucking temper.)
3) Do not go out with these folks if he will be there. If he is always there, tell them you’re not going out with them and why. “A grabs me, he lifts women’s skirts and grabs their crotches, and he’s fucking scary to be around. I shouldn’t need mace to hang out with my friends. As long as he’ll be around, I won’t be.”
And I lied! A fourth suggestion:
If your friends won’t back you up or continue to invite him knowing the score (or excuse his behavior), find a better set of friends, because these people suck.
Great advice from Sheelzebub. This guy is oozing multiple canny loopholes for plausible deniability for his serial assaults and getting away with it, and you and your friends absolutely do deserve to be free of that bullshit.
I applaud you for wanting to confront him for the sake of your friends even though your personal outlook for the immediate future means that you could just leave and forget him. What you want to do might not work out, but you rock for wanting it to.
I do not hold out high hopes for the guys in this social circle seeing the need to confront and contain this behaviour and joining you in it, simply because it seems so rare for a circle of guys to ever accept that one of their mates is a shitstain whom they should be ashamed to be seen with. But maybe they too are just so caught up in the polite behaviour trap that they don’t know what to do, and a well placed kickstart from you might let them wriggle out and let the decent human beings deep down inside remember what it’s like to do the right thing.
Good luck to you.
I think this is excellent advice, but…look, I’m kind of disquieted by the number of commenters who are suggesting–even tongue-in-cheek–that this guy be squirted with water or whatever. He’s a rapist, not a cat. He’s very dangerous.
I think that you should hold on to those feelings of unease and anger, LW. And I think you should treat this man as a threat, because he is already hurting you. I don’t think you should plan to get backup from your friends, but I think you should make sure to get away from him as soon and completely as possible.
You’re right, I mean, it is VERY tongue-in-cheek, but, you’re right.
Oh, I understand.
I suppose…it’s not the gallows humor that’s bothering me, really.
I think it’s the knowledge that this man–according to the LW–is actually already assaulting all of his female friends. Lunging at them, grabbing them, groping them, grabbing their crotches (!), pinning them down (!). In fact, he’s probably already committed rape. Look at the list of things he does out in the open. (Sorry, LW–I know this is a difficult thing to think about, and I don’t want to make you feel bad. None of this is your fault.)
In a just world, this guy would already have been arrested about fifty times over, don’t you think? And it makes me sad and angry that the official response would probably be an official shrug–and that this woman can only obtain safety by avoiding him.
Difference between this and the comments I made? Please explain.
You replied to comments I made WRT to victim-blaming language others in the thread made (you know, NOT TO YOU), and answered arguments ***I never made.****
Read for comprehension next time.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. You have jumped the shark on this one. I am not victim-blaming. I am commenting. I am leaving my opinion. You don’t have to agree with it. But you are not automatically “right” about my motivations because you don’t like what I said or how I said it.
ENOUGH BOTH OF YOU.
She started it.
(whining) Well, SHE DID!
Seriously: Sheelzebub, I am very sorry. I am sorry for not hearing what you were saying, and for being an asshole and just f-ing trying to be right.
Victim-blaming is NEVER okay, and I am very, very sorry that 1) my comments sounded that way, and 2) I did not back down and own my crap before this.
I respect you tremendously and I sincerely apologize for my assholery.
No worries, TH. I shoulda put on my big girl panties and let it go.
To CA: Mom, are we there yet? Are we there yet? Now? What about now???? 😉
Honestly, I’m not surprised you ‘let’ it go on this long. When a member of your peer group does something as OBVIOUSLY out of line as groping and skirt-flipping and nobody else does anything about it, it contrasts so strongly with your idea of How Things Work that you start to second-guess every single feeling you have on the matter. You no longer trust your own feeling of violation to tell you that his behaviour was unacceptable, because you (rightly) expected a general consensus on that which hasn’t appeared. Once that’s happened it’s incredibly difficult to say anything, because even you start to wonder if you just lack a sense of humor.
Everyone else has already given all the useful advice I could come up with and more besides, so I just wanted to make sure you knew that it’s normal to not have been able to stand up about this. I mean, if I saw a pair of STRANGERS in that situation out in the street I’d give the groper-skirt-flipper a piece of my mind (possibly also a piece of my fist), so it would REALLY throw me for a loop if my friends didn’t seem to think anything was wrong, were I in your position.
For several years as a teenager, I was regularly sexually harassed by a guy who was Just Kidding. He would wait outside my classes sometimes, the better to touch me inappropriately, but hey, it was just a joke! It was funny! What was my problem? (See, it wasn’t like he could actually want to have sex with me, because I was ugly as sin. This was part of the joke.) And it wasn’t just him saying this, but his friends, and sometimes even my friends. And he is hardly the only guy I’ve ever met who’s done this, though thankfully most of the other incidents I’ve had were one-offs.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Guess what? It is no more acceptable to disregard a woman’s wishes about her body for shits and giggles than it is to do so for sexual gratification. I don’t even know what the difference is supposed to be, because either way you’re doing the same thing and either way you are enjoying yourself and she is not. I don’t care if you find me unattractive or you’re gay or you’re a member of an alien race that can’t actually interbreed with humans or what, nothing gives you the right to do something like that to another person once they have asked you to stop.
Sorry, I don’t have any actual advice for the letter-writer. I wish I did, but she’s already gotten further with this whole thing than I ever did. I have sympathy, at least?
I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that. NOT OKAY.
I think even he doesn’t think he’s “just kidding” he’s just pushing the boundaries until you get pissed off and then play it off to get back in everyone’s good graces. Not anything sexual – but I’m currently seeing this same kind of behavior in a forum for this one program abroad that’s starting this Fall. This guy has already done the program but is hanging around all the new people. He constantly gets involved in fights and flame wars and when he takes it too far, is clearly in the wrong and people call him on his rudeness he plays it off “Just joking! Training you so you can be prepared for next year!” and bullshit like that. This kind of behavior has to be some kind of personality disorder, it’s so disturbing seeing people be assholes and then deflecting it.
Also, I don’t see “I can’t believe you let him do that for so long” as too victim blamey. It is to some extent but part of growing up as a woman in our society is learning to shed our niceness and to stop living in fear of being labeled a bitch or irrational. Don’t feel bad about wanting to protect your own body and your boundaries. I have the same reaction seeing tourists being scammed by guys that come up to them to put shoe polish on their shoes or put a friendship bracelet on their wrist and demand to be paid. Don’t let the pressure of being nice allow assholes to violate your personal space.
I favor something like a substance abuse intervention. First recruit all the women in your circle and then work on recruiting the men. I like to picture everyone in the social circle circling around him and factually listing the things that he’s done and telling him he must change his behavior. I don’t actually believe that intense shame will change his behavior, but I do believe he may leave and never come back.
If you describe the way he has harassed you and others to your male friends and they disbelieve you, ask one of them to drink less at the next party and watch A. and note what they see. I also think surveillance technology is your friend. If I had a time machine (never one around when I need one), I’d love to have videotape of every bad thing A had done, or at least a clip reel of every “gimme sex” comment he had ever made. I’d upload that tape to Youtube and spend several hours trying to spark it into going viral, just to let the world know how big an asshole he is. But I may be rather mean spirited.
Some of what he’s doing is assault. And clearly everything you mentioned qualifies as harassment. If he can’t improve his behavior he could face consequences like rejection (too fucking bad!) and being fired from a job for being a harasser. If he thinks what he is doing is “fine”, he could actually commit worse and worse offenses and end up in jail (deservedly). So you can truthfully say that you are performing the intervention to help him (even if that’s only a side effect of helping all the women in your social circle feel comfortable.)
Ways to recruit the guys if you’re unsure about them.
1- Recruit the girls first. With them, together, list AND RECORD all the incidents each of you can remember of him doing something in the last say, 3 months. It sounds hard, but you’ll be amazed how much each of you remember once you get going. Organise the list. List it either by social event, or by name-of-victim.
2- All the girls. ALL the girls that have been recruited get together and go to the guys as a whole. Start gentle, explain that A has been getting worse, emphasise that hat he is doing SCARES YOU and leaves you each feeling uncomfortable.
3- If the guys brush it off as a little thing, present them with the list. Read it to them, rather than making them read it. If listed by person, get each girl to read her own section. Make the guys see it as a specific issue about the people they care about, not as a general vibe of creepiness. In my experience, even the most well meaning and kind guys sometimes just don’t notice stuff happening. It isn’t happening to them, and even if they do see it, they almost certainly see just the odd occasional incident. Giving them specifics gives them the reality of how bad it is.
4- Be specific. Say to your guy friends “At the party, A asked me three times if I wanted to have sex. When you went to get a drink, he asked me to suck his dick. A grabbed my breasts when I was at the bar. I told him to stop and he laughed. Later same night, he put his hand down my top and a while after that he lifted my skirt over my head so everyone could see my knickers.” Say that, and it sounds a LOT more serious to privileged guy ears than “A keeps being creepy and touchy.”. Emphasise that A does these things so often and in the face of negative feedback from all the girls that it seems more than “just a joke” but that, EVEN IF IT IS A JOKE, he is scaring and hurting people that are supposed to be his friends, and that is not okay.
5- Have a clear decision that the girls would like the guys to agree to. Whether it be a whole group intervention, a guy-only intervention, separate interventions from both parties or a straight-out shunning. It’ll be easier if you already know what outcome you all want.
WRT to the “kick him in the balls crowd”. No. You may be charged with assault if he decides to call the cops. It will be his word against yours. Given that you’ve put up with touching for so long and the group has put up with his behavior, he will tell the cops that he wasn’t doing anything unwanted. You’ll have to allege that you were in fear of being raped or otherwise assaulted. Who do you think most cops will believe?
This is not legal advice.
First of all, he’s grabbing their crotches or flipping up their clothes, which means he’s already attacked them and committed battery. Of course she’ll allege she was afraid of an attack BECAUSE HE ALREADY ATTACKED HER. Simple, non-deadly self-defense is not only allowed in cases of imminent murder or rape. Maybe the cops will believe her, maybe they won’t, but the situation is greatly in her favor. He does seem to always do this in front of witnesses, so assuming her friends and everyone else in the bar won’t lie to the police over this, they kind of have to take her at least fairly seriously. Yes, people have been putting up with A’s behavior, but they also freely acknowledge that it’s horrible and want it to stop. They may not be willing to confront him directly, but that’s not the same as refusing to confirm her account. They already do that.
Additionally, sure, he can say he didn’t do anything unwanted, but he’s just been kicked in the balls so he’ll have a hard time making that case. In general, ladies do not kick men in the balls as a reward for good behavior. I’ve read numerous rape cases where the fact that the woman DID injure him won the case because it’s evidence that the contact was unwanted.
I would say read the laws in your area. In my state, you may use self-defense if you are in danger of being attacked or if you were attacked. You do not have to prove that you were afraid of something like rape, battery is fine. She’s been physically attacked by A, so that’s in her corner. You cannot use any more force than is necessary to protect yourself, but kicking him to get him away from her would likely be considered reasonable. Additionally, the prosecution has the burden of proving that you did not act in self-defense. That’s hugely in her favor.
WRT the “kick him in the balls” crowd–she’s done that several times. Just sayin’.
Y’all could try Ding Training, if you’re not yet prepared for a more aggressive or confrontational approach.
“Every time he’s a jerk, you dryly say “Ding” before going on to the next point.
Him: Your avatar is ugly.
You: Ding. This is a cool website, they had a post about robots.
Him: Robots are so last month.
You: Ding. Hey, did you see Slumdog Millionaire?
Do not make a big deal, don’t accuse him, don’t stop the conversation, don’t have a tone of “See how often you do this?” Just say it calmly and then continue your sentence to get on with the conversation.
If you have to Ding him in public, do it. When others ask why, just wait- don’t answer right away- let him explain. The shame of it will speed up the process. If he doesn’t explain you mildly explain, “Jimmy here likes to insult me a lot, so every time he does, I ring an inaginary bell.””
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