"Because who are you to keep touching me, no matter how seemingly innocent it looked on the surface? Who gave you that right?"
I didn't perceive it as sexual harassment all the times it happened, even though I felt real uncomfortable. But now, looking back, yes, it was. Because who are you to keep touching me, no matter how seemingly innocent it looked on the surface? Who gave you that right?
The guy was an elder in the church, married with grownup children. His face always seemed to light up when he saw me and he would put his arm around me, giving my shoulder a tight squeeze. At first I thought it was just a warm and friendly greeting on his part because he and his wife always seemed very fond of my husband and me. (We were a young couple and they were older.) But when it happened too many times to count, I began to feel uncomfortable and even resentful. Why do you keep touching me? If we were sitting down after church for lunch and there was an empty seat next to me, he would sit next to me, put his arm around me (again!) and pull me close so that our shoulders were pressed together. All this in front of my husband and sometimes his wife!
My husband and I spoke about it and we agreed that we should subtly show our displeasure and discomfort. If we could see the guy standing or moving too close to me, I would turn or walk away. We also began to pay attention and saw that this guy was doing the same thing to a few other women in the church. He seemed to pick on the younger and more attractive women and was doing it very openly. Always the same modus operandi: put his arm around the woman, squeeze her shoulder, lean in very close so their bodies are touching, and remain "stuck together" until the woman pulls away.
I wonder if the other women felt the same way I did: embarrassed and uncomfortable at first and then increasingly disgusted. As a man in a position of power (in the church, at work, and with his family), did he think he had the right to touch and grab us the way he did, so cavalier as though it was the most natural thing in the world? WTF!