I am a first-year female college student studying performance arts. To unwind, I went downtown on Friday night. Why do men (drunkard frat guys, bouncers, etc.) have to grope me, or a weird white dude who obviously thinks I am part of the bar because I know the owner? Not every woman wants to be looked at like a piece of meat. We are not your honey, sugar or lean-on to impress your friends.
Don’t Touch Me There
I can’t speak for men at all, but I can share my attitude and approach to unwanted advances when I’m out. I think that sexism and chauvinism run deep in American culture, and especially in college culture, and that we have to accept that they are systemic issues in order to react properly to them. It’s natural to question the morals of a person who gropes you without consent, but I’m not so naive that I assume basic human decency out of straight men cruising at a bar where even the bouncers hit on the underage women present. Make eye contact with your harasser and tell them to leave you alone. Do not be afraid to tell a man no and to enforce your boundaries. And I know you’re in college and you wanna party, but I cannot in good conscience recommend any drinking establishments to a freshman who is most likely under 21. The cool townie spots would card you, keep your fake ID and ban you from the premises, as they should.
So, my friend’s partner has been, to put it nicely, kind of a dick to him lately, and it’s really starting to bother me and some of our mutual friends. It seems like every time we are around them together, she makes some kind of disparaging or mocking comment at him. It started out sounding like a joke, but over time the comments seem to get meaner and more pointed. It’s gotten to the point where our mutual friends are noticing how mean the comments are getting, but none of us know how to handle the situation. Watching my friend be constantly mocked, torn down and sniped at by his significant other has been really difficult and conflicting. I mean, we can all see the hurt look on his face when she makes those jokes and comments at his expense, but he never says anything to her about it around us, and nothing seems to change between them. I’m not sure how to broach the topic with my friend because I don’t want to stick my nose into his relationship, but at the same time, he deserves so much better than to be put down like this by someone who supposedly loves him. I’ve talked to some of our mutual friends, and they all think that she crosses a line with the jokes, but no one else seems keen on saying anything or intervening. Is there a way I can respectfully and considerately talk to my friend that doesn’t come off as an attack on his partner or cost me the friendship? Is this even something I should bring up to him?
Conflicted and Concerned
I have been in this exact position before, and this is how I handled it: I told my friend that I love them and can’t stand to see them torn down in front of me. They agreed that their partner could be inappropriate, but did not take my position seriously until I told them that I no longer wanted to hang around them both together. I made it clear that I was still their friend, but that their partner was no longer welcome around me because their behavior reminded me of an abuser from my past. Of course, things were awkward, but I still had my friend, and I like to think that their breakup soon after was set into motion by a loved one drawing a hard boundary around their partner’s messy mouth. Maybe your friend will be motivated to finally broach the issue if you avoid confronting their partner themselves while also making it clear that their behavior is unacceptable.
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