An Open Letter To The Guy On The Street Who Just Grabbed My Butt

clueless harassment

Hey there! I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I’m the human being who owns the ass that you just grabbed. I was standing at a crosswalk, glancing at a text message from my mother, when you saw me. Oh, whoops– when you saw my butt. Not me. Thinking about your total lack of judgment has led me to realize that you might not have known that female butts have people attached to them, so it’s cool if you can’t picture my face. That’s understandable. Unfortunately, I remember you.

You probably had a lot on your mind today, and you probably had people to see and places to be, but you took time out of your busy schedule to place your strange hands on my buttocks and give them a squeeze. If you hadn’t made me feel dehumanized, scared, disgusted, and like a cantaloupe in a grocery store bin that you were inspecting for spots, I might have admired your confidence! It’s almost brave that you’re willing to take whatever you want, whenever you want it. The only thing standing in the way of that being a positive quality is one teeny, tiny detail: I’m a human being. I’m not an object, I’m not a toy, I’m not less than you in any way. In fact, I’m positive that I’m more than you. I am so, so much more than you.

Maybe it’s hard for you to understand why you can’t touch a stranger’s butt, and I sympathize with that. You’ve seen a lot of commercials that commodify women’s bodies, you’ve never seen women in positions of political power, you’ve watched movies whose heroes would never hesitate to grab a free ass. You’ve played video games where you score extra points for strangling prostitutes! With all those messages entering your head, it must be difficult to remember that things with limbs and eyes and blood and facial expressions are exactly as human as you are. When I jumped away from your touch, looking frantic and suddenly sweaty, it was probably hard for you to tell that I was a person. Basic human empathy is really, really hard to muster, and remembering that you don’t own every creature that walks on this planet is an acquired skill. I mean, I’ve managed to go 23 years without assaulting someone on the street, and so has every other woman (and nearly every man) I’ve ever met, but I understand your struggle. What are you supposed to do when you see a butt you’re attracted to? Not grab it?

I don’t know where you are right now, but I hope you’re having a good day. I hope you’re having a much better day than someone who rushed home to take a shower so she’d feel clean from your invasive touch, and I hope you’re a lot happier than someone who now avoids walking through her neighborhood alone. I hope you don’t feel grossed out, I hope you don’t feel violated, and I hope you don’t have to write an angry article on the internet just to blow off steam.

I hope you’re happy today, random man who grabbed my ass. At least one of us should get to be.

Photo: Clueless (1995)

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    • Julia Sonenshein

      Fuck yes.

    • diane kaston

      so sorry this happened to you,

    • Emily

      Amen!

    • FemelleChevalier

      I’m sorry it happened to you, but I just have some teensy tiny problem with your words.

      Being harassed/assaulted sexually happens globally, whether it’s a developed or a developing country. Some perpetrators even live in countries where women are DEFINITELY in political power, where commercials commodify both women and men, and where movies and television shows are more often targeted towards women.

      Some perpetrators even live in countrysides, where they haven’t touched a game console before to know that you can strangle a prostitute, where internet is non-existent, where they even can’t afford electricity (uses candles and oil lamps) let alone a TV.

      Those things you’ve enumerated aren’t the defining factors on how someone can lose empathy. I will forever put blame on parents, who weren’t able to teach their children manners and how to treat others right.

      • Anne

        Uhm, you might want to look up the word “sarcasm” and read the article again with that definition in mind.

      • FemelleChevalier

        At this point, I guess I’m pretty familiar with this site’s use of sarcasm.

      • JacquelynneFaith

        You make a valid point. Unfortunately, you can never include everything about anything. Writing is about choosing what to keep, what to leave out-and not every perspective can be expounded upon. What’s more is, this was a real experience…I think to scrutinize it at this point is not only to fail to take it for what it is, but also to invalidate her reflection. Those things are-relatively, culturally, and in context, potential contributors.

      • FemelleChevalier

        Of course, the author has the authority to write whatever she likes. This is a blog site, after all. As a contributor, she has the prerogative to do so.

        I’m not invalidating nor undermining her experience in any way. Personally, I just have a problem with generalizations upon generalizations that I see regarding these kinds of issues. You say that this issue is relative. Of course it is, but I didn’t see that being considered in this written piece: all I see is generalization.

        Plus, just because it is a real experience doesn’t mean that it can’t be scrutinized when some words are problematic. No matter how personal it is, it was still written to be viewed by the public.