The Sexist

Why Do Gropers Grope?

This week, the Sexist will embark on a series about groping in D.C.'s public spaces—its bars, parking lots, Metro cars, national parks, bookstores, and sidewalks. So far, I've heard the stories of dozens of groping victims—and one woman who admitted to groping a man. But I have yet to find a man who will fess up to groping a woman without her consent.

Perhaps they're embarrassed about having sexually assaulted another human. Unfortunately, men who contribute to anonymous Internet forums don't seem to have that problem.  Tales from gropers abound on the Internet, where anonymous sex discussions regularly fail to register casual sexual assault as taboo. Online, the public narrative surrounding groping is certainly tipped in the direction of the grabber, while testimonies from their victims are few and far between.

My Google alert for "groping" has turned up hundreds of fetish videos, but zero stories from people who have been groped. And the fascination with touching women without their consent is hardly confined to the world of pornographic fantasy. Today, I stumbled across a thread on Panterachat.com, where metal fans discuss their experiences groping female crowd-surfers. Brandon opens the thread: "has anyone here ever groped a girl who was crowd surfing," he writes—"admit it."

The respondents who would admit to groping crowd-surfers provide some insight into the groper's psyche. Take Izzy. Izzy gropes to teach girls a lesson! "Any girl that goes crowd surfing either wants to be groped or is too fucking stupid to realize that that's all that's going to happen and deserves to get groped for her stupidity," he writes. Here, groping is seen as a punishment for women who have an expectation of personal safety at rock concerts. But which came first—the man who groped the woman, or the woman who was too fucking stupid to realize that the man was going to grope her, forcing him to grope her? The world may never know.

Other respondents denied groping crowd-surfers, but not because they have respect for women: "The vast majority of girls I have seen crowd-surfing at metal shows are not the least bit grope-worthy," writes Pfl?yd.

For several of the forum participants, the thrill of groping isn't in touching a woman's body; it's in pissing her off. long4theblur writes: "always like seeing the chicks who crowd surf but then are obviously offended by the groping that occurs. The naivety alone is funny." BassPhemy adds: "I like when you see a concert on TV or on a DVD or something and the girls crowd surf up to the front. They look like they're having fun as they go up, then as they make their way to the front of the crowd the smiles turn to frowns. Then when the security pulls them down they just look violated and are usually covering their bodies with their arms."

Brandon's favorite part of groping appears to be rendering her powerless to respond: "there was this one occasion in which i groped a young lady at a danzig show," he writes. "after screaming 'you grabbed me' into my ear and i responded that i couldnt hear her, she gave up."

I know that there are plenty of men out there who touch women in public and don't frequent Panterachat.com. If you are a man who has groped someone in D.C., and can explain why, drop me a line.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Groping is related to rape, as the online discussion shows. Rape is violence, not sex - the aim is to hurt the victim; sex is only a means to an end.

    Groping is apparently undertaken for the same reason - to hurt the victim, & the sexual component is merely a means to an end. The comments by the gropers here discussing their motivations - to punish women, to anger women, to render a woman "powerless" - could easily be substituted in a group of rapists discussing rape.

    Men rape women for the same reasons: to punish women, to anger women, to render a woman "powerless". Perhaps this is why many rapists start out with lesser sex crimes &, over time, move on to rape.

  • Former Staffer

    I punch crowd surfers, I don't grope them.

    Crowd surfing is so 1995. Haven't we realized that people can get hurt doing stupid things?

    Then again I've had my nose broken twice by crowd surfers so now I just consider it self defense.

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  • kza

    I groped to feel boob. Not power.

  • Jay

    Perhaps these sexist swine who grope women aren't thinking about the proximity between a crowdsurfer's boot and the groper's squidgy little piggy face?

    Women: wear your bother-boots.
    Decent males: kick the crap out of the aspiring rapists you see touching women at gigs - she could be your sister or mother.

  • http://www.indiecredential.com/ Justhipper

    As a woman who goes to a lot of gigs (and has been groped at a few of them) I can't believe it's ever entirely for a cheap thrill - on a number of occasions the culprit has openly admitted that grabbing my chest or placing his hand between my legs (or a friend's) was simply done to annoy us enough so we'd move and he could get closer to the front.

    In nearly every instance of this the guy in question never seems to grasp that the groping is sexual assault but when I retalliate (with a well-placed elbow or a foot/knee) I get accused of being violent - and this is consistently backed up by the attitude of security who say "if you don't like it, stand at the back." Occasionally they'll threaten to remove the guy if he doesn't stop - but this always comes with a caveat to me of "defend yourself against the groping and we'll remove you instead." In every instance of this the groper is a good foot taller and 30-40lbs heavier than me at least.

    There does appear to be an unwritten rule of the gig - do whatever you have to to get nearer to the stage, even if you have to hurt somebody to do it - including sexual assault - and frankly I'm angry about it.

  • Reid

    Ok, groping is bad and wrong and shouldn't happen. But I feel pretty much the same about crowd surfing. I consider it a form of assault. It's been a long time since I saw any crowd surfers at a show, but in the old days my response was to drag them down. So, no I don't think groping is an acceptable response to crowd surfing and people who do it should be prosecuted, but I'm not going to feel a whole lot of sympathy for the victims.

    It actually raises an interesting question: say a woman starts beating up a guy (so, actual criminal assault, not just my own definition of assault above), can he defend himself by fondling her? If not, why not?

  • Jay

    An interesting question to a closet-misogynist simpleton maybe, Reid.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    I'd love to see it, Reid. Some chick is kicking your ass & you "fondle" her. Yeah, that'd be smart. Please do it & put it on u tube.

    Maybe that's how the Mizzou women b-ball players beat the crap out of the male cheerleader, even though he's big & strong enough to put cheerleaders above his head. Maybe he decided to fondle them while they were beating the shit out of him...

    It's really quite perverse. Put it on u tube as an educational video.

  • jf1

    "Perhaps they’re embarrassed about having sexually assaulted another human. Unfortunately, men who contribute to anonymous Internet forums don’t seem to have that problem."

    ...wow...never occurred to me that that would happen...

  • jf1

    "There does appear to be an unwritten rule of the gig – do whatever you have to to get nearer to the stage, even if you have to hurt somebody to do it – including sexual assault – and frankly I’m angry about it."

    You ought to be.

    What you shouldn't do is respond stupidly in anger.

    What happened to all that "boycott" energy that liberal women are famous for? Boycott the band. Call your local city council(wo)man and have them shut down the club as a hotbed for sexual assault. Do something intelligent.

    the security will quite rightfully toss *you* for responding to violence with violence. Just as they should toss the jerk who did it...right to the nearest police substation. Stop dealing with the stupid security morons and elevate your response.

  • CP

    So if I'm in a club and some guy fondles me, I'm not supposed defend myself physically. What if I'm on the street? Is it all right then? Why would it be any different at a concert?

  • Former Staffer

    Simple solution, don't be a crowd surfer. Your "fun", I consider an assault on my person.

  • CC

    Yeah, I'd say we have sample bias going here. Guys likely to grope are not likely to read feminist blogs.

  • mdesus

    I am a straight man. I have many gay friends. I often go out with them to gay clubs, and I have been groped. For me anyway, it was never a big deal. You tell the guy to quit it, or move away, but it was never some great violation of my personal space. It was more "oh that guy is really creepy I can't believe someone would do that." Frankly, well the groping bothered me relating it to rape seems a bit far fetched. If for no other reason than groping only lasts a mere second. Any longer than that, and it stops being groping, and becomes assault.

  • mdesus

    also sometimes when supporting a crowd surfer accidental groping may occur. I know I've been kicked in the head by a female crowd surfers foot, and then proceeded to pinch the shit out of that girls leg. She let out a nice loud scream which gave me a chubby... I mean satisfaction.

  • Jess

    Yeah, I’d say we have sample bias going here. Guys likely to grope are not likely to read feminist blogs.

    You don't read the comments here all that often, do you?

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Jess FTW.

  • http://www.indiecredential.com/ Justhipper

    If someone has his hand on your breast, or between your legs and his elbow is digging into your neck, or back, or his leg rammed between yours from behind trying to get his knee into your crotch or make you lose your balance then you should be able to shove him off you - do what you need to get him to stop, especially if asking him to stop results in being told "It's a GIG, deal with it or leave."

    Boycotting the band won't help - they tend to have no idea what's going on (although many years ago Thom Yorke of Radiohead did stop this happening to my roommate as we were close enough for him to see it).

    It's all down to the same issue - taller, bigger, stronger people at gigs think it's ok to use this against those of us who are smaller and more defenseless to bully us out of the way. Shoving, groping, elbows to the head and hands on the crotch are all unpleasant and would be considered assault in any other environment.

    I would agree on the crowdsurfer issue as well, I've been knocked unconscious by one before, nearly had earrings ripped from my ears and, believe it or not, actually been sent flying onto the stage, knocking the bassist and his mic stand over. It hurt.

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  • NbyNW

    mdesus

    "Frankly, well the groping bothered me relating it to rape seems a bit far fetched. If for no other reason than groping only lasts a mere second. Any longer than that, and it stops being groping, and becomes assault."

    The reason that groping is related to rape (beyond the obvious fact that it is a form of sexual assault) is that most (potential) rapists don't go change their behavior from chatting amicably to rape in 5 seconds flat. Rapists don't want to be caught. They don't want a victim who will put up a fight. Most self-defense experts warn students to beware of escalating or testing types of behavior to see what lines can be crossed before a potential victim fights back. Groping can be an assault by itself, or it can be testing behavior in preparation for a possibly greater assault.

  • Dave

    If you want to have a serious discussion about concert groping, then I think you need to leave crowd surfing out of it. I understand there are legitimate gropers in the crowds, but the very nature of the activity means that strangers are going to put their hands all over your body. Maybe it's becasue they want to touch your butt, but maybe it's becasue they don't want you to fall on their heads.

  • Nate Dawgg

    I don't about all these comments. But Amanda if you had longer hair, I would grope the he'll out of you!

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  • circle

    I've grabbed women's butts. Most of the time its at a club where it's really crowded and everyone is getting shoved around. In that situation, if a woman who turns me on passes by, I may cop a cheap feel. I do it because she turned me on and piqued some curiosity in me. Also its funny that another person may get blamed and i can watch the interaction.

    For everyone saying the men who do it are kin to rapists. eggghhh. it could be the opposite. maybe we feel as if women have more power than men in social situations and therefore we are taking some back. As opposed to the rapist needs to exert power over a woman and has less egalitarian concerns. Yes, groping is a matter of justice.

  • dats

    Man its funny to me how one thing is so bad for a woman, yet so good for a guy. I as a guy have been groped several times by women, both on my crotch and butt. And guess what...I liked it. It was flattering AND it turned me on a bit. And once it resulted in me dating the girl who grabbed my ass at a music festival for a few months. So to all the woman out there, grope away we guys like it. And to all the the men, your evil and should be ashamed.

  • jf1

    ...so in other words, many guys go to these concerts not just on the hope of hearing a good band, scoring some good dope, getting drunk & getting into a good fight and maybe even meeting a cool girl, but also to get a few good gropes on some naive young girl.

    God help the ones who want to surf so that they finally get some male "attention".

    It's gotta be a really cool thing when you're at a concert like this and a bunch of complete strange guys suddenly pick you up and pass you around. Do they put you down because they all got a good feel or just because they were wimps and got tired first?

  • http://myblackbrick.com DoctorJay

    Didn't Anthony Kiedes, from Red Hot Chili Peppers get arrested for jumping off the stage at a show at George Mason University in Fairfax and groping a girl...

    Ooops, it was indecent exposure backstage:

    http://bit.ly/7rYLy5

  • A

    "For everyone saying the men who do it are kin to rapists. eggghhh. it could be the opposite. maybe we feel as if women have more power than men in social situations and therefore we are taking some back...groping is a matter of justice."

    How is that different from the way rapists think?

    Way to hate women, Circle.

  • K

    Groping for great justice, circle? I remain skeptical.

    As far as the concert issue goes, I've never crowd-surfed, but I have been groped. I was bouncing around, having a good time, when I look down to see a hand firmly clamped over my breast. I turned to look at the guy and was frozen in shock as he grinned at me like a bastard then slipped back into the crowd. As I realized what he'd done, I got furious. Then I ran after him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and I kicked him in the balls. The guys nearby all said to me, "Hey, chill out." I said, "Try and touch my tits again and see what happens, jackass." No one said anything else in the groper's defense. Now that is Great Justice.

  • Janewasquizical

    Groping is a form of assault I suppose...it definately invades that area of space we all consider personal safety and personal space. I never quite understood the premise of groping. The reality of the feel is momentary, yet for the Groped the memory is lasting. I was grabbed once at a rock concert on my birthday many years ago in my youth. No it wasn't a Happy Birthday to me...it hurt physically because the chest is a tender area, but the Perp ended up hurting alot worse because a chivalrous gentleman yelled " Duck"! I did and the Perp was punched. When he let go, I made a beeline for the exit. I still can't listen to a classic AC/DC song with out a small pang in my chest...

  • JosHell1123

    uhhh...alot of times, you're not getting your ass groped by guys at concerts, girls. It just seems like they're grabbing your ass because it's so crowded.

  • funky

    I completely agree with Janewasquizical. So many (men in particular) can minimise the impact of being groped, yet who are you to define another's experience?

    I have learned to call out the men who are sleazy enough to try this on; I have no hesitation shaming them and making public their repulsive behaviour.

    What I find more difficult is when the behaviour is covert. So you're squished in a train, unable to move, surrounded by men, all pressed up against you. It's all neutral and just a normal level of discomfort, until you start getting this slimy, nasty feeling behind and slightly to the left of you. Although the guy is pressed up against you like all the others, somehow it feels yuk. It's like he's getting off on it, but you have enough doubts to not want to call him out (who the hell wants to accuse an innocent man of such a nasty act?!!!). So you stand there, tolerating it, but feeling truly disgusting, desperate for your stop to come up.

    And for all those who say who say it's NOT happening (JosHell1123), why am I not having that sensation with anyone else in the train? Not even the guy pressed up tight behind me? Trust me, we can feel it.

    What I like about forums such as this (a dear male friend pointed it out to me) is that it reminds me to trust my instincts and next time I WILL act on that covert behaviour!

    May the good men who stand up against this behaviour be acknowledged and valued, may the women who stand up against this behaviour be proud, and may those who engage in this behaviour reap their just rewards. May the rest of you simply Learn.

  • EL

    Then we have groping by workmates or your boss.
    It happened to me at a work dinner and the groper was a senior policeman who set me up for the assault. It was witnessed by 8 people, but it was clear no one wanted me to take it further.
    This guy always drank to excess at work functions and then sexually assaulted women by grabbing/squeezing their breasts or forcing his hand between their legs.
    I was stunned and shocked when it happened to me and it took me years to get over it, probably because he got away with it.
    He didn't even apologize, just pretended he had no memory of it happening at all.
    Asking around this was always his excuse - I found out later he's been inappropriately and aggressively touching women for 20 years and getting away with it.
    Sadly, these men keep getting away with it.
    It would be wonderful to hear a boyfriend or husband had beaten him to a pulp - I live in hope.

  • Beth

    In high school i was a poppunk fan and a nerd. I crowd surfed at (dare i admit) sum41 show-- no groping. Then my all-girl robotics team won an award at a national event and went through the customary "high-five tunnel" and most of us were groped. It had nothing to with how easy it was or how we were dressed or whether we "deserved" or expected it. It was all about making sure we knew we didn't really belong at an engineering event. It was to turn us from a competitive team into a sexual novelty in the minds of those guys.

  • SK

    I,for whatever stupid reasons, usually out of some weird impulse, or out of some stupid sense that they wouldn't notice, or it wouldn't be that bad for them, I think I have either stood too close to women or perhaps brushed against them weirdly. Nevertheless, I also despise this behavior, causing a paradox which I absolutely hate. Groping is a horrible social behavior, and I'm not sure I should be a case study on why this happens. I think usually it is out of entitlement. I stand in solidarity with the victims of groping, having had some abuse experiences done on to myself (though all mild). I suppose I can only apologize profusely and correct my behavior.

  • SK

    Again, I am only very sorry for whatever I have done, and I will work hard to not condone such behavior by reporting it, serious or not.

  • SK

    To comment again, I think even though most of my stupid actions were what the mainstream would see as tolerable, it is wrong. I think even the most hardened gropers can change, though a victim's job is only to care for her (or possibly his) self. I cried when I read this article and thought of myself. While I am certainly not searching for sympathy, I would simply perhaps like to give hope that the world, though full of creeps, could certainly become a better place... I hope.

  • RD

    It is sad to hear some men have been reduced to so little on there journey into adulthood,i would imagine the ones who do this for any sort of power are those who feel they cant match up to a females expectations or experience an emotional connection with them.

    And to do it in a day to day situation such as a train or office is senseless but not every guy who slaps some ones butt in a club is looking to take the girls power away some times they just do it because there attracted to them..

    When i was younger(18 or so)i used to be very upfront,if i saw a a girl i liked in a club i would put my hands on her waist,if she smiled i would feel her up how ever if she did not looked pleased i would say nice to have seen you take my hands off her and walk away.

    Most girls smiled,the ones that never there was no issue with because i stopped before they found it intrusive,the last girl how ever smiled and continued to do so while i was touching her until she decided to kick me in the balls leaving me on the floor in middle of the dance floor for at least half on hour.

    I have never approach a girl in that way since..why did i used to do it?Because i was attracted to them and it felt good there was no power issue there though,clearly a passing groper gives the girl little choice about his actions but if you have your butt slapped in a club its not Always a guy on a power trip,he may be shy,drunk,like you and have no idea how to talk to you,immature in a social setting there are many reasons...

    But how you respond to a guys actions is your choice and quite possibly his problem.

  • Blooming Psycho

    Gropers are losers. Period. No more can be said about them. There is no defense for such creepy, vile behavior.
    Regarding going to concerts, wow, I guess I'm naive. Imagine, all this time I thought I was going to have a good time, listen to some music, dance a bit, in my younger day maybe have a toke, as I got older, maybe have a beer. But nooooo. I was, in fact, there because I was asking to be groped. Because a woman can't be a fan of Pantera (rest in peace Dimebag Darrell) or AC/DC or whomever. If she is at a concert, she is obviously a slag who is asking for it.

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