Reading the stories about people touching pregnant bellies reminds me of some unwanted touching that is rather common for me to experience.
I’ve never been pregnant so never experienced unwanted belly rubs but I have been blessed with thick healthy hair and that results in people wanting to touch my hair. Some will come up and state, “Your hair is so pretty, mind if I touch it?” Others will just come up and start petting my hair or twirling it in their fingers. And these are complete strangers!
Usually my response is an indignant sounding, “May I help you?!”. To which they’ll say something along the lines of, “Oh your hair is just so pretty I had to find out is it’s as soft as it looks.” At that point, I’m not really certain what to say. I usually just pull away from them. But it still mystifies me that someone would want to touch a random stranger’s hair, especially without asking permission. Usually I’m a big and imposing enough of a figure that people stay away from me, but something about my hair makes every other thought leave them.
One occasion I remember off hand involved me being in a audience at a nice, elegant theater location (for plays, not movies). We were doing a lot of sitting and standing (up and down). At one point, a young lady behind me started stroking my hair. I turned and looked (glared really) at her and she said, “Oh, there is gum on the back of the chair and I didn’t want your beautiful hair to get into it.” As I said, this was a high quality location, and not a place where you’d expect gum stuck to the back of chairs. Also, my friend looked and there was no gum in sight. And, my hair was not hanging over the back of the chair and she didn’t brush my hair aside, she stroked it five or six times.
I suppose a, “Please don’t touch me,” might work but that seems rather light for someone who thinks intimately touching a stranger is totally fine. Any thoughts on responses? 0113-15
I think the first time the response should be a firm but polite, “Please do not touch me.” The second time, it’s OK to get stern and take more deliberate actions to stop the touching. I had a situation in the swimming pool of the fitness center while water walking in the designated lane. While there is posted etiquette rules for sharing lanes, for some it appears to not apply to them. As the first person in the lane, others who came later are supposed to ask me if they can share the lane with me and as the first person in the lane, my choice of which side of the lane to travel along takes precedence. I happily share the lane with many people as we dodge each but in this case, one woman wasn’t yielding right of way. She blocked my path and placed both her hands on my upper arms and turned me 360 degrees during which I responded, “Stop. Please don’t. ” I reported the incident to management because it was evident the woman was invading my personal space and ignoring my rather obvious statements to stop doing what she was doing. The second incident happened a few months later when the same woman repeated the previous action only this time I forcibly broke free, stepped away from her and very firmly (and loudly) said, “Don’t touch me. Don’t ever touch me again. That is rude.” I reported that incident to management as well and the result was that the woman was restricted to sitting on the pool deck until I exited the pool.
Other forms of touching, in my opinion, deserve an immediate and strong reaction. Goose my rear end and I will (and have) slap you so hard I’ll think I broke me hand and you’ll have a hand print on your face. In the Victorian era, women used their rather long hat pins to jab men who got too fresh. I confess to using a corsage pin years ago to fend off a creep.