A few years ago, I was talking to a male friend of mine about one of the other guys at dance, and how I couldn’t figure out if he noticed that he would end up swiping the edge of my boob whenever we danced together (partner dancing).
He informed me and the other females present that a guy always knows when he has touched boob – it is like radar… whenever boob touches any part of a guy’s body, it immediately alerts, “BOOB!”
And so then we were all wondering if the occasional faces that the guy we’d been discussing would make – an almost embarrassed, pursed-lip, laughing expression, like a little boy who’s snuck ice cream before dinner, and his favorite aunt calls him out on it, but they both know she won’t tell Mommy (and probably just will steal a bite in exchange for her nonverbal agreed-upon silence in the matter) every so often while dancing with me were because he noticed that he’d touched boob, but hadn’t meant to do so, and so now didn’t know how to respond appropriately, but did his best to ignore the event (with his face totally betraying him).
Because we really couldn’t figure out why he always made those faces when dancing with me…., but this seemed like a reasonable and likely solution to our quandary.
The specific guy was an actual well-known friend, and so we all agreed easily that he was not at all intentionally malicious in any way with the boob grazing – he was just not that great with the body management while staying on beat and all in the dancing.
I don’t remember if I ever verified this theory – aka tested it time and time again, when dancing with the guy – but I have a sense of being rather convinced of that being the case, even now, years later, so I’m thinking I did check that he always made those faces just after what seemed like an unintentional boob graze.
Now, the reason this has come up tonight, is because of something that happened tonight.
When giving me a side hug tonight, a long-armed guy’s arm went a little too far around my back – about half an inch, I guess – and his fingertips, ever so slightly, grazed the outer edge of my breast.
When it happened, I naturally pulled strategically out of the hug, from years of practice in removing myself from any sort of uncomfortable situation, intended or accidental.
I didn’t say anything, though, because I found myself wondering first, Did he notice that?, which was almost immediately cut off by the memory of what my friend had told me years before: “BOOB!”
And then I wondered, Was that intentional?
And then I didn’t know where to go with it.
He’s a tall guy, so misalignments can happen rather easily, as they happen with extreme height differences…, but he’s a tall guy, and he has been a tall guy for some time, and ought to know how to manage such things by this point in his life… but he’s also really not a ladies’ man, and so might not be too accustomed to hugging girls in the first place…
After the fact, I feel almost embarrassed that I was too embarrassed for him to bring it up, to tell him in some way that I disapprove of the behavior, whether it was intentional or not – I didn’t have to be mean to him at all, but I think it would have been valuable to inform him either way to be cautious in the future.
Yet, it was not so natural a thing to me that I even considered saying anything at the time… I just moved away from the incident altogether, for fear of discomfort.
I didn’t want to embarrass him over something he had neither intentionally done nor known about.
I was embarrassed for myself at the prospect of pointing out that he had touched me inappropriately, period.
This is something for me to work on for myself – I want to be comfortable to speak up and conscious enough to do so, whenever anything like this might happen.
And I want all people to be encouraged to do so themselves, too – I want us to be happy and comfortable in our own skins, and to be able to express, in a useful and beneficial way, what doesn’t work from other people’s behavior toward us.