Unwanted groping in nightclubs is something that almost every girl experiences. Why isn't it confronted more, writes Eimear Kelly.
This is an issue that has bothered me for quite some time now. I was reluctant to write about it at all but I feel as though people don’t take it seriously. In fact, some people even find it amusing.
 
Unwanted touching and groping in bars and nightclubs is a serious issue. It a serious issue that people face on every night out. And, simply put, it is sexual harassment. An unwanted sexual advance is sexual harassment. Inappropriately touching or grabbing someone without their consent is sexual harassment.
 
I understand that bars and nightclubs get busy and often, touching off of strangers can’t be avoided. However, as a decent human being, I also understand that this is not a reason or excuse to touch someone inappropriately.
 
Maybe this is a part of the so-called ‘Lad Culture’ that exists today. Maybe some people lack basic manners and respect for others. Maybe some people are even delusional enough to think that grabbing strangers is an effective ‘pulling technique’. One thing is for definite; unwanted touching and groping in bars and nightclubs has to stop.
 
I don’t want my friends and I to have to rethink our outfit choices in case someone in the nightclub sees it as an invitation to put their hands on our bodies without our consent. I don’t want my friends and I to have to worry about going out tonight in case we receive unwanted attention that makes us uncomfortable and self-conscious. I don’t want us to purposely have to avoid nights out because we worry that this will happen. I don’t want my friends, me or any other person to be made feel uncomfortable, intimidated or embarrassed because someone in a bar or nightclub thinks that it’s okay to touch, grab or feel someone else without their consent to do so.
 
A big issue surrounding this topic is that often, bouncers witness this behaviour and they do absolutely nothing to stop or even prevent it. Bouncers are security guards at bars and nightclubs, which means that their job is to keep the venue and everyone in it safe and secure. They are supposed to ensure that everyone is safe, yet so often, they stand back and allow this behaviour to happen. The sad part is, they probably see this every night and are in a position to stop this sexual harassment from continuing. Yet, they choose to do nothing and this, in my opinion, makes them every bit as guilty as the sexual harasser.
 
It’s difficult to know how to react when you’re in this position. It’s difficult to ignore unwanted hands on your body. Despite this, it’s also hard to know what to do or say. The common reaction is to move away, throw a dirty look and hope it doesn’t happen again. However, it’s also a good idea to attempt to pay no attention, try not to give the person the satisfaction of a reaction and again, hope it doesn’t happen again.
 
I find it ironic when the harassers get irritated about the fact that their invasion of personal space was clearly unwanted. That really isn’t a valid reason to be vexed. Having a random person in a nightclub put their hands on you in an unwanted way is a reason to be vexed.
 
Touching another person in a sexual way when they haven't consented is not okay. It’s not attractive. It’s not a ‘turn-on’. It’s not an effective pulling technique.
 
Touching another person in a sexual way when they haven't consented is sexual harassment. It is vulgar. It is constant. It is intimidating. It is dangerously normalised, but it should not be normal.
 
Sexual harassment is not normal, nor will it ever be.