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tit for tat: the art of proportional response
children of dune - leto 1
From the discussion here at sf_drama, context at bad_service screencaps here.

The discussion circled around one commenter in the original post stating that if a woman touched her belly while pregnant she'd grab her boob (paraphrased).

I'd started reading this with a Well, that was really inappropriate to do that (the boob grabbing), but you really shouldn't touch someone without permission, but you know, I was there like, when I started reading comments and the original entry and by the time I commented, I was kind of advocating for a knee-to-crotch, because this is really bothering me.

I think mostly because a.) my initial reaction was to kind of hierarchy the tit above the pregnant belly, and b.) a lot of the comments were suddenly just really horrified at the idea of boob-grabbing, but not so much with feeling up someone's pregnant belly. And I actually don't hierarchy like that with my body; when I was pregnant, I was draconian about bodily privacy. Actually, I was a lot more then than I was before or am now.

I had so little of my body that was mine then; I had doctors and nurses and family and stirrups and ultrasounds and I had to drop and spread my legs in the end every goddamn week to check for effacing and dilation and I hated it, I hated it. I'm not terribly modest like that (for those who have seen me at VVC, I am not one with the modesty), but pregnancy isn't like normal life. My entire body was given up to developing Child and there was nothing that happened to it that wasn't in the view of the entire goddamn world. If I felt better cutting all access to it that wasn't medically required, then that's what I was going to do. I'm not sure that helped per se, but it sure as hell didn't make things worse.

Thing is; when I go clubbing or to a bar or a dance or a restaurant and a guy I don't know grabs me because he is just that into my parts, I'm kind of okay using my knee or my hand to shut down that shit. (This has never happened with a girl that hit on me. They always ask. Even drunk, they always ask. I was once literally floored by that; wait, you want to know if I am okay with this? Really? Like, without a knee being involved? Revelation. YMMV.) I'm not picky on how; it does depend on how surprised I am, since my natural conditioning is to let it go, but surprisingly enough, if I don't have time to think of my social conditioning to be nice and allow it, I won't be nice. And in general, at least theoretically, most people think that's an okay reaction.

You know, here is where I'd usually say, but still, grabbing someone's boob for touching your belly is bad, but--I'm not, because I am seriously not comfortable with the idea that my tits are more sacrosanct that my hypothetically pregnant stomach, and one is unwelcome and wrong but retaliation to grabbing a tit is sexual assault. Which--no. Fuck that.

I think I understand the tone argument from the other side; I'm really disturbed that the tone seems to loosen up what should be absolutely proprietary restrictions on my body. Part of me thinks this comes from perceived power--woman to woman--because I'm not sure that if a guy came up and felt up my belly people wouldn't be cheering for a knee-crotch. If I'm okay with someone kneeing a guy for being appropriate--and I am--I can't tell why I shouldn't at least technically be okay with boob-for-belly being a proportional response. And as it turns out, I really am.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/28735.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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I straight-up hit people who touched me while I was pregnant. I mean, I had really closed off body language and would push people away before they could get that close, but yeah... the one or two times people got past that, I'm kinda surprised I didn't get sued for assault. Maybe they thought I was hormonal? Bu yeah, I totally agree that there's a heightened need for bodily privacy when you're pregnant, just at the same time that everyone seems to think that your body and your decisions are public property.

I'm also sort of surprised that people keep having to have conversations about whether uninvited belly-touching is okay. I mean, I get that there are some women who aren't bothered by it. But the number who are is... not insubstantial. Is people's need to grope a pregnant woman's belly really SO STRONG that they're willing to take those odds? *boggles*

I like that, the hitting.

Is people's need to grope a pregnant woman's belly really SO STRONG that they're willing to take those odds? *boggles*

See, that's what I'm thinking.

You don't touch people without established permission! How is that hard?

I mean, I'm so one of those people who get googly eyed and stupid around pregnant bellies...but I wouldn't even ask to touch unless I knew the person really well. Stangers, never. Friends, I ask. Granted, I ask with a pitiful, hopeful, puppy dog look that implies they will break my heart if they don't let me - but I ask.

I really take your point about how much touching pregnant women have to put up with medically... I never want to be touched when I'm sick or after a doctors visit normally, so it makes total sense.

*nods* When I was asked by family and/or close friends? Unless I was jsut feeling crappy, I was okay with it. (And when there were truly bizarre inner-stomach things happening, I figured weirdness shared is weirdness halved; it was comforting to see the same WTF expression and know I wasn't alone in thinking this was an alien event.)

But like, unprompted by non-familiar people? Hell and no.

When did we lose ALL OF OUR GODDAMN BOUNDARIES PEOPLE??? JESUS ON A STICK. It is never OK to touch anybody you don't know really really really well without obtaining permission. And maybe not even then, if I am having a very bad day, in which case eve 26 years of marriage will not stop me from requesting you to unhand my person immediately. I don't care if it's a kid (unless they are about to electrocute themselves or run into the street, etc.) or someone who is 1043. People need to step back and develop a mantra of BOUNDARIES and keep their hands to themselves. I would not dream of touching my DIL's baby belly EVER, unless she asked me to for some reason. I certainly wouldn't pat somebody else's unasked, and strangely, grabbing someone's elbow or knee is off limits too in my world (unless you're trying to tell them to get out of the way of the falling piano.)

Edited at 2010-06-27 09:47 pm (UTC)

You make me happy. Your capslock makes me smile.

Nobody ever tried to feel my belly when I was pregnant. The only people who I even would have let (besides medical professionals and my immediate family) would be a couple of close friends and maybe my hairdresser - she's excitedly friendly anyway and I have already overcome the OMGSTOPTOUCHINGME thing with her. Mostly.

But yeah, Luckily my "fuck off" aura kept people a decent distance away. Which is good, because they'd probably be begging for me to have just grabbed their boob otherwise.

*hand up* I worked very hard to emanate "DIAF" (before it was DIAF; then it was "I would kill people just to watch them die") from the second I realized my stomach was becoming a point of interest to people. That moment was so irritating.

I have so many personal space issues that I'd straight-up punch any adult for touching me - or my wheelchair, since it is part of my personal being whilst out and about - without invitation. And that includes my baby-bump if I ever have one. (Unless of course, they do it to save me from danger.) Kids I'd just ask as nicely as I can to not touch me.

Baby bumps and wheelchairs seem to be magnets for people with itchy fingers who cannot help but be touchy feely, and who do not think about how it affects their target. Pregnant women already feel like their body isn't their own without people groping at them. In my case, one of my health conditions makes being touched painful, so being pawed at by people of 'good intentions'...not to mention the mental health issues that affect me and that can affect anyone...

I wish people would get it into their heads that they DO NOT TOUCH SOMEONE UNLESS INVITED!!!

*nods* Kids below the age of reason I gave a pass to; I get they have zero impulse control and are insanely curious. They're not thinking anything but WOW THIS IS WEIRD which you know, I sympathize with them there; I thought it was weird too. And weirdly, kids--the ones I came in contact with anyway--were geniuses at knowing when it was okay to come close. The only time I can remember a kid touching without asking I was also in an insanely good mood (for reasons unknown), teh kid was tiny and ridiculously amazed by this entire child-in-belly thing going on, and the parent was there already like "YOU SHOULD ASK."

In my case, one of my health conditions makes being touched painful, so being pawed at by people of 'good intentions'...not to mention the mental health issues that affect me and that can affect anyone...

God. I cannot even imagine that. *shudders* This is not a comparison, but I have an escalating reaction to steroids that spreads down from my neck when I'm taking them and makes it impossible to even wear a bra without pain and I usually tell people that so if they want my attention they will touch my elbow or something (the farthest down it ever spread before treatment finished was just below my braline). So--wow, yeah. I can't imagine that every day and people still touching you. I'd go crazy.

Yeah. Young kids can be really cute and funny sometimes, though when I'm rolling and they try and stick their fingers in the spokes of my wheels...GAH! Totally, "I'm sorry I just slapped your kid's hand [away] but I promise you, it's better than what would have happened if I hadn't."

And weirdly, kids--the ones I came in contact with anyway--were geniuses at knowing when it was okay to come close.

I actually tend to find kids are better with personal boundaries because while impulsive, they aren't quite as assumptive...

God. I cannot even imagine that. *shudders* This is not a comparison, but I have an escalating reaction to steroids that spreads down from my neck when I'm taking them and makes it impossible to even wear a bra without pain and I usually tell people that so if they want my attention they will touch my elbow or something (the farthest down it ever spread before treatment finished was just below my braline). So--wow, yeah. I can't imagine that every day and people still touching you. I'd go crazy.

Youch. I can certainly sympathise with that. Being that sensitive to touch really sucks - and worse in your situation is that something that is supposed to be HELPING you is causing that. Yikes.

It does drive me nuts, especially when I explain that certain areas of my body are sensitive to touch but a person comes up to me and hugs me tightly every time they see me, or just keeps touching me - pats my arm, squeezes my shoulder - despite me telling them.

I have an aversion to being touched, so I rarely touch others and really don't get the 'OMG! Pregnant!Belly! ::gropegrab::' thing. Don't understand the thing where people get offended when you tell them to stop, either.

And then they want to know why you don't wanna be touched. ::headdesk::

People, I am socially disabled and I know you don't touch others without permission. You also don't touch their kids, either. Unless, y'know, immanent danger. All's fair in that.

I have a wide and very specific circle of personal space and do not like people even just hovering over me, much less touching me. There's a woman at one of my jobs who keeps touching my waist with both hands as we pass by each other-and I know she's just doing it so we don't run into each other when she's coming up behind me. But I want to swat her! STOP GRABBING ME! I find it too intimate for someone I don't know well and don't like that much, for one thing. Just say "Behind you!", like I do-or a simple "Excuse me" will also do. Gah, I'm shuddering, just thinking about it. D:

I've never been pregnant and never will be, but I've always been angry about the casual public quality of a pregnancy. From the intrusive questions to the stares, the jokes about hormones, and the unasked for ~touching...and the uncomprehending stares when I talk about how upsetting it is. Because a pregnancy is a beautiful thing, right, and everyone just wants to share it, you know. Happy happy joy joy abounds and I'm the Grinch.

You are so right to say that if it were a man touching a woman's belly without permission like that, pregnant or not, people would be cheering on either a knee-to-crotch or some other physical reaction. It's perceived as rude, because of the gender difference. But bodily integrity has the same value, regardless of the unasked-for toucher's gender, and I think a little tit-for-tat is quite acceptable.

That's your body. That's your baby in there! A very private relationship-you to your body, and you and your body to your baby, both-excluding even the father to some degree, I imagine.

Courtesy never hurts anyone, and curiosity, however well-intentioned and happy, isn't sufficient excuse for invasiveness.


This is a bit off the pregnancy topic (totally outside my realm of experience, nothing to add except a vehement uh-huh), but I have the EXACT SAME SITUATION at work. And I don't know, I guess most of the people she knows are shorter than me? Because when she tries to grab my waist, she grabs my ass. Yeah. The only upside to having a job I have to get up at the excruciating hour of five a.m for is that by that point, I have had nowhere near enough caffeine to go with reaction number 1, which is to bite her head off.

Perhaps you could gently grab her wrist and pointedly move her hand? While smiling? Maybe joke about bad touches? IDK. Even the waist-grabbing could be annoying in itself (for me, definitely), but the repeated ass-grabbing, accidental or not, is definitely a problem. How long does it take to learn that oops, I grabbed somebody's ass by mistake, better watch it! D:

Still a question of invasive touching, either way, and very hard to defend oneself against without appearing to lash out.

She's a grandma several times over, so I'm entirely convinced any bad touches are entirely accidental and platonic. Still, it's hard to retaliate against someone who calls you 'kiddo'.

Never been pregnant, and hopefully I'm now in peri, so the bullets they have been dodged. Therefore there's a part of me that says I don't have a part in this conversation. But I've always been shocked at the lack of boundaries people assume the minute a pregnant woman approaches. Is there a magnet in there, people? All of the sudden everyone's a zombie with their hand out, ready to cop a belly feel. At this point it's a really good thing I've never been, because that's one baby who'd have been born behind bars, with mama doing 30 to life for crushing ribs.

So without a dog in this fight I would just like to say that I don't have any problem with touching someone's secondary sexual characteristics as a direct response to someone's primary sexual characteristic getting touched.

If you're a human being, you have a dog in this fight. Everyone should be able to express an opinion, certainly on something as potentially invasive as touch, whether or not they actually have the various parts under discussion. Because it's not a far reach to go from touching a pregnant woman's belly without permission to touching ~anybody without permission; and from touching with interested curiosity to prurient intent. A progression of invasiveness, permitted by cultural expectations that we all join in.

It's like the interest people take in the weight of total strangers, and the oh-so-well-intentioned free ~advice they give. We're just supposed to shut up and take it, because our condition makes us deserve it. A more negative version of this kind of invasiveness, I think.

Actually (sorry Pesti, I followed you from your journal) having a dog in the fight may be just the answer. Nobody's going to grab a lady's belly when she's got a slavering German Shepherd on a short leash.

(Deleted comment)
Ooo, I had something like this at university. Because I hugged my good friends and did the touchy-feely thing with them, too, this guy took that as permission to randomly hug me.

It got SO uncomfortable that after trying to subtly keep away from him or get away from him before he hugged me I had to be like BACK. THE. FUCK. OFF.

Having someone you aren't okay with trying to touch you is not a fun thing.

When I was pregnant, I was very young, very ill, and very unhappy about the entire situation. I still shudder when recalling how one of my aunts cornered me at a family reunion thing, and *forced* her hands to my belly, ignoring my protests, and then proceeded to pray and speak in tongues. I was in tears when I finally got away by dint of the fact that my mother was calling for me.

I do not understand why people cannot seem to keep themselves from touching without invitation. I think I would sock someone who did that to me, now. Not only is it my body, but you add in the instinct to protect my child, just no. Get the fuck away from me.

But even more so, if someone did that to my wife? I think I'd lose my shit. My wife, my child, snarl, growl, snap.

We were all taught as little kids not to touch other people if they didn't want you to. What the hell happened to that?

Edited at 2010-06-28 08:38 am (UTC)

We were all taught as little kids not to touch other people if they didn't want you to. What the hell happened to that?
God, this! WTF happened?

Did all of us just have parents who taught us the right way to treat people???

I just don't get where people got the idea that it's okay to touch a woman's belly when she's pregnant. Or, really at any other time, without permission.

I have never, ever thought it was even remotely okay to touch someone just because they are pregnant. How is that ever okay unless you have express permission to do so?

I've never been pregnant but I have enough awareness and knowledge to know that all the things happening to your body that you have no control over must be weird and more than a little disconcerting. I can't think of a worse time for people to decide that it's okay to touch you without any prior permission.

But then, maybe because I'm British and we have all those personal space issues and, well, Britishness (I know there is a word I'm looking for here to express what I'm really trying to say, I can't for the life of me remember what it is) I've never thought that such behaviour is okay? IDK. It just seems weird to me to think that you can touch someone's belly when they are pregnant. To me, that would seem to be the perfect time to be extra polite and make sure you aren't about to drive someone crazy.

I can be a pretty touchy-feely kind of person with friends but I always make sure that people are okay with that and I'm never like that with someone I don't know.

Actually, it's kind of funny, in my family my brother really isn't all that touchy-feely and doesn't really like spontaneous hugs and random arm touching or hair ruffling and the like so I kind of have to negotiate with him. Like, he just got back from a year in China and so I keep messing his hair, touching an arm and stuff like that - just to, you know, convince myself he really is back - and I had to say to him that I'd be like this for a couple of days but I'd stop pretty quickly.I tell him if I really need a hug and he tells me if he's in a mood where touching will piss him off. We got a pretty good system worked out *g*

i'm normally a touchy-feely-gropey person with my friends and i didn't mind them suddenly focusing on my belly while pregnant.

i HATED strangers, co-workers, and non-friends doing it. one girl i outright hated did it once. i grabbed her by the wrist and told her that if she ever did it again i would END her. one of the spaz kids at my daycare kept messing with me and one day i actually had the urge (but didn't give in!) to bite them. O_o;;

i was a bit hormonal during pregnancy.

strangely enough though, it didn't bother me at all when it was hispanic or asian women touching my stomach. it just felt less invasive and more natural, which is odd because i'm white.

but yeah, even at my most crazy and sensitive i wouldn't just grab a woman's boob. women get objectified and disrespected sexually every day, i don't need to add to it just because most people turn stupid when they sense teh babies.

Oh my god, I have heard this rant from pregnant women before, and seriously, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THAT THEY WOULD JUST *DO* THAT?! I think Id be less likely to grope you in response than to just belt you, but fuck it, whatever works.

I wonder if belly touching is an American thing? Honestly I don't know, but I spent my pregnancy, for the most part, in Japan, and I NEVER had anyone touch my belly uninvited. I actually can't even remember anyone beyond my partner and my doctor touching it all.

I had so little of my body that was mine then...
I remember having a very different feeling when I was pregnant though - I felt my body was much more mine during pregnancy than I did after I gave birth.

Not sure the boob grabbing strategy is one I would have tried at either point. Certainly after I had The Girl she was the only one interested in my boobs (and the milk they supplied). :->

I meant to tell you at the time-I posted about this at my own lj and had an interesting little discussion, too. I wanted to thank you for bringing up yet another hot button issue that it felt good to discuss. :)

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