OPINION: Stop, don’t touch me

by | Sep 30, 2016 | Editorial, Opinion

Hayley Michaud

Arts and Entertainment Editor 

If you’re on social media, you’re likely aware of a number of incidents where celebrities were assaulted in public in the last week.

First model Gigi Hadid was grabbed from behind and lifted by a man while she was leaving an event in Milan, and just a few days later, the woman most known for being famous, Kim Kardashian had to have her security intervene when the same man tried to kiss her butt.

While it seems almost part of the job for these famous women, it’s unacceptable behaviour that highlights a serious issue for women: men feeling like they have the right to touch us without our consent. It’s hard to imagine a woman getting to college and not having been subjected to this kind of behaviour. Whether it’s a male relative hugging you, or some guy at a party who just won’t stop putting his arm around you no matter how many times you walk away, it happens to almost every woman at some point and it happens fairly often.

Every woman probably has a list of weird things that have happened to her without their consent. Many women have been conditioned to just accept this as a part of life, something that occurs so often they have no right to be upset by it. Even worse is the fact that many women who are made uncomfortable by these actions have their concerns silenced by others saying what occurred was harmless and merely ‘friendly’.

This inability to speak up about these ‘small’ gestures likely comes from the backlash women expect they’ll face. When so many reported sexual assaults are dismissed or dissected to show where the woman was at fault, many may feel like their complaints over the way her boss touches her shoulder or her uncle pinches her cheeks, will only result in comments about how she’s overreacting, how those actions are just routine sociability.

From a young age women learn that their personal comfort and their right to say who can and cannot touch them is valued less than the impulses of the men who can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Men often don’t see the issue because so few women speak up and those that do can easily be dismissed as a prude or a bitch. But the next time you’re at a party and see some guy throw his arm around a girl, try to see if while she may be smiling, she’s also urgently trying to make eye contact with someone to get her out of the situation.