The Vagenda

A Bum Deal

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m starting my day with a cup of tea, a load of editing and Channel 5 chat show The Wright Stuff on in the background. As the panellists chew over the issues and news stories of the day, one topic gets my attention. Bum pinching.
Apparently a group of South London women are trying to get their local clubs to throw out men that are caught pinching unsuspecting ladies’ bottoms. Good on ‘em, I think, and it’s back to editing, and words, and stuff.
‘Oh for God sake,’ chimes in guest panellist and Loose Women presenter, Lynda Bellingham. ‘It’s just a bit of fun. Have you seen what women wear in clubs these days, if they bend over you could see their knickers!’ *CUE BLATANT SEXISM KLAXON*
Editing takes a back seat now as my brain tries to even slightly comprehend this massively dubious implication that the scantily clad ladies were obviously asking for a big ol’ booty grab. Nope, not going to happen. I’m dumbfounded.
I’ve lived in London for almost five years now and have never had my bum pinched by a stranger. Maybe this says more about the grope-ability of my backside than it does the state of society, but I’m really surprised to hear that this still goes on in bars and clubs. I can imagine I’d be more than a bit hacked off if it happened to me. As in the drink in face/swift kick to the crotch type of hacked off.
A quick scan of The Wright Stuff Facebook page reveals a torrent of varied responses to the question of whether a campaign against bum pinching is one worth fighting. ‘It’s harmless fun, bring it on lol,’ says one female while one male spouts: ‘Next they will look to ban car horns, wolf whistling and cheesy chat up lines. If getting your bum pinched on a night out is the biggest problem in your life, you have no idea how lucky you are.’ Yes, readers, that’s the sound of PHYSICAL HARRASSMENT being equated with dodgy chat up lines. However several women on the feed cite incidents where an uninvited grope has ruined their evening or sent them home in tears, and thankfully one male has the sense to point out that: ‘Groping is out of order. For both sexes. It is lurid, offensive and ultimately intimidating. No women should have to accept this from these types of decrepit, lecherous males.’ Random Facebook man, I would like to give you and your sage, erudite words a GIANT HUG. 
Let’s be clear. Whether or not the logistics of a ‘one pinch and you’re out’ club ejection policy are practical, whether it’s a male or female doing the pinching/grabbing, and whether or not the pinch recipient actually thinks it’s the funniest thing since pugs dressed as Yoda…it’s not OK. You wouldn’t think someone putting their grubby paws on your behind at the bus stop or on the tube was ‘just a laugh’; you’d undoubtedly think it was sexual harassment – so why should clubbing be any different? 
Still think the South London ladies are taking things too far? Spare a thought for British man Steven Sherriff who was jailed for six months in Dubai after pinching a woman’s bottom in a bar. Or Australian Wayne Burnham, who was fined $600 and banned from various pubs for the same offence, outside a taxi rank. 
Getting chucked out of a club is nothing compared to how other countries react to bum based assault. Pinching, poking, grabbing, groping – whatever you want to call it – is unpleasant, creepy and intimidating and it’s about time Brits start to take it more seriously. I’m not saying that every creep with a wandering hand should be sent to the guillotine (I’m more a gallows kind of girl) but throwing them out of a club for a bit of fresh air and some advice on how to actually talk to the opposite sex may not be the worst idea.

17 thoughts on “A Bum Deal

  1. you are kidding? their are two kinds of people who go to clubs- male and female. The male will either be a sweaty drunk leering mess or one that hides his drunkeness better than the other but is no better. Female’s are either actually up for it or want to make men feel a little worse about themselves. Clubs are where we pile all the idiots so responsible members of society can enjoy themselves elsewhere on nights out, the can do what the fuck they want in those moron housing facilities. Night clubs are the human equivalent of butcher shops where you pay for your meat with spirits and alcopops.

  2. Are you kidding, Trevor? I’m the female kind of person but I don’t go to clubs to get with men or crush their self-esteem – I just want to dance with my friends. When I was single, bum-pinching was an absolute turn-off. I never went to clubs to find someone to date, but there’s a big difference between the club etiquette people use to signal that they want to dance/get off with each other and someone pinching my bum as my back is turned so I can’t see who it is. Judging from the many times it has happened to me, there are only two situations people pinch bums: to show their mates they can get away with bum-pinching and it’s funny or to show their mates they can get away with bum-pinching because they’re a womaniser.

    Also if I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that men go to clubs to get women drunk so they can get with them…that’s embarrassing AND dangerous. I’m sorry if your low self-esteem makes you think you can’t get with a woman unless they were pissed, but that’s not how most people see the dynamics of clubs, nor how society should function.

  3. Two years ago when at a music festival I was dancing with a group of friends and the man behind me groped my arse. I’m not talking a light-hearted pinch (which wouldn’t have been any more acceptable!) I’m talking full on hands-full.

    I was incandescent. I confronted the man whose response was that “I shouldn’t be rubbing my fat arse against him then” and that “I should expect it”. To say I was furious and devestated is an understatement. I was in the middle of a throning crowd at the front of a festival, with no security ot support in sight. My friends intervened as he was clearly aggressive and volatile. But I felt powerless to do anything, say anything. The implication that I couldn’t have fun with my friends without expecting that sort of harassment was terrifying and upsetting.

    In stark terms I am now one of many women who have been sexually assaulted and these sorts of opinions – that it’s just a bit of fun, what do women expect when they wear certain things and go certain places and behave in certain ways, and that we shouldn’t moan about it when it does happen – make me sick.

  4. I’m still astounded at the number of people who think women should just put up with this sort of crap. Like we should expect it because we’re female. Fuck that shit – I’m a human being too! This sort of behaviour is *so* not OK. I hope these women get lots of attention for their campaign.

  5. Lynda Bellingham clearly hasn’t ever been harassed in her life…women get all kinds of dirty strange men groping them in public and somehow it’s our fault for having a bum to pinch? Are women not allowed to have bums now because poor childish men can’t help themselves when they see one? Women can’t go anywhere without being leered at, why should we have to forgo the right to go out anymore because men can’t keep their hands to themselves? Chuck perpetrators right out of the clubs

  6. My boss pinched me on the arse a couple of years ago. It was during the football world cup so he’d had a couple of beers at lunch time.
    I had to take it as a “joke” (and honestly I don’t think in his mind it was meant as any more than that) but I froze and didn’t know how to react (similar to some of the other responses on Twitter).

    Of course even in this context as ‘a joke’ I was left feeling extremely embarrassed and like some ridiculed sex-object.

  7. I am so glad that these South London women are taking a stand. I thought I was the only one! I get groped or inappropriately touched by men in clubs about once in every five (or so) times I go out – so a bloody lot. I never scream or shout or throw drinks or punch them in the face (although the amount of self-restraint I need is gargantuan). I make sure I know who has done it, alert security, and request that they be removed from the premises. Only once was the man not thrown out, only told to stay away from me, although he inevitably didn’t. On each other occasion, the security personnel was very understanding and professional, and I am very grateful that they were able to help.

    Do not stand for it. Make sure that they know it’s not acceptable, that you will get them kicked out, and hopefully next time they will think twice before assaulting someone.

  8. I find it difficult to take your comment seriously considering your total lack of appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    When I still lived in France, I loved going out to clubs with my girlfriends. Yes, at least one of us was usually interested in making out with a guy (or two) on the dance floor… But only when we had a say in the matter. My willingness to make out with one guy does not equate a willingness to accept sexual harassment or assault from any guy who so desires.

    No matter how “minor” the incident may seem, sexual assault is NEVER okay. I would know, since I’ve been sexually assaulted in seemingly “minor” incidents four times.

  9. Aw, poor Trevor, did a woman in a club turn you down? Thus proving that her only purpose in going out that night was to make you feel bad about yourself? What a shame.

    I go clubbing to dance and spend time with friends.

  10. I only ever used to go clubbing in search of love or lust. Nonetheless, it never even occurred to me to assault anybody to that end. There is nothing fun about intimidating people.

    I’m searching for a punchline to lighten this but I’ve got nothing: either you engage people as equals or you’re a wanker.

  11. Unfortunately, its because of men like Trevor that women have these issues in the first place. I have been groped when Ive been on a night out. I wasnt looking to “pull”, I wasnt showing off my bum or cleavage. So what part of me would suggest that I was “either actually up for it or want to make men feel a little worse about themselves”? (oh and a feminist doesnt mean we hate men or sex btw). I am actually curious as to how you can justify this, other than the glaringly obvious fact that youre bitter from being turned down by women on a night out. I doubt you will reply with a sufficient answer… or even reply at all.

  12. This article is totally right. Unsolicited groping in bars DOES happen all the time, and it’s completely unacceptable. I was at the Cuban bar in Camden with a group of friends, and as soon as we got separated from our boy friends, we girls immediately became targets for every male within a ten-mile radius. Some were harmless and only wanted to twirl us around for a bit before moving on, but this one guy grabbed me from behind and began grinding on me and shoving his hands everywhere. This wasn’t a case of being prudish: I said no repeatedly and he only left me alone when I told him I had a boyfriend- but not before he gave my breast a goodbye squeeze. On a packed dance floor, there’s not very much a girl can do when she’s being harassed by a man who is likely to be much stronger physically and therefore quite intimidating. It makes me even angrier that men who do this seem to only acknowledge your right not to be groped by a stranger when they are told you have a boyfriend. It seems that you have to actually ‘belong’ to another man before they will respect your choice not to be felt up by them. What’s EVEN worse perhaps is the fact that my friends found this funny rather than shocking when they returned. This attitude that it’s all ‘just a bit of fun’ has to stop.

  13. Imagine that the only places straight guys could go for a drink and a dance were gay bars and clubs. Would they take their ass being felt by some bear as just a bit of fun, and something that just came with the territory of being straight? Unsolicited groping is revolting behaviour.