Last week I talked about my experiences going to conventions in less than conventional dress, but I left the account of my being fondled brief as I thought it deserved its own discussion. This is that discussion, and it comes with what is becomming a distressingly boilerplate trigger warning.
One of the big questions I had when I started wearing my Slave Leo costume was whether I would have the sort of negative experiences that women have reported, the leering, the drooling and most specifically, the groping. The short answer is yes, I did have those experiences, and yes they were negative, but not so much as they could have been.
There are three specific instances in which I was physically accosted, by strangers, without anything that could be mistaken for permission.
The first, I had my ass slapped. This was so strange and shocking to me that I just walked away in confusion having returned to my assailant nothing more than a baffled glance. She was smirking at me in a way that suggested she expected me to have found the gesture flattering.
The second, I had my chest hair ruffled. That isn’t something I even knew could happen until it did. After my first experience, I had decided that I wouldn’t let such events pass without confrontation, so I called her on it. I said something to the effect of “I don’t know you,” to which her response was to again run her fingers over my chest while grinning in a come-hitherish fashion. She clearly didn’t get it, but her friends did, and I suspect that when she sobered up the next day, they made her feel adequately uncomfortable for it.
The third, I had my chest fondled by a woman while I was walking through a huge crowd. I stopped. Told her not to do that. She told me it was okay, and I had permission to do it to her. I hope that our audience here doesn’t need me to do over why her willingness to let me reciprocate doesn’t make it okay.
I have heard said that while feels that have been copped and leers that linger overly may not be the form of attention one desires, that one should still consider them forms of flattery. There is some logic to this, but having now experienced it myself, I would like to dissuade any who would think to apply this argument.
Much of the attention I received I did find flattering, some deeply so, some so much so that it made me uncomfortable. But that was genuine flattery. Compliments, requests for photos, and even a couple earnest but less wholesome suggestions, were all flattering. But being groped was not. It was an invasion. It wasn’t that I found the women unattractive or creepy, I thought them all beautiful and likely would have blushed at their attention in other forms, but their groping was no more flattering than if they had decided that my dinner looked tasty and had started eating it off my plate. I had something that they fancied and they had a go at it. No respect was given, no consent sought. Any flattery that might have been garnered from the experience was completely flooded out by the offence. I’m sure someone would find it enjoyable, but I didn’t and I suspect most people wouldn’t.
Not The Same
Something I alluded to in my previous post is that there is a difference between men groping women and women groping men. My experience is not universal, of course, but there is a strong gender bias. The difference, I think, lies mostly in the realm of fear.
When I was molested, my brain quietly did a little calculation, a simple, primal, fight or flight set of sums. The result, I win. If the situation escalates, whether I chose to stand my ground or bolt, in either case, I would easily outmatch my opponent. Had the situation been reversed, had I been the predator, they couldn’t have fought or run and hoped to win.
I have had many female friends and acquaintances relate stories of being fondled by men. Those tales always include some accounting of fear: fear of physical harm, fear of being unable to stop them if things escalate, fear of reprisal for attempting to fight back. I felt none of that. But being in the situation brought the difference into sharp focus.
This, then, is the major difference I found in being the objectified cosplay cabana boy rather than a similarly barely attired lady, I am not threatened by my assailants. Even when I’m the one being groped, I’m still in the position of power. So while I have the luxury of deciding exactly how flattered, annoyed, or disgusted I am with the fondling, someone smaller, weaker, and less violent than I might feel trapped, left sorting out whether they were going to get out of the situation unharmed.
So that sucks.
I’m just gonna leave this here.
Featured image, “Slave Leo Reclining” by Angela Clayfield