I don't wear dresses very often. I just don't feel comfortable in them, they make me hyperaware of my body, so I don't wear them. Easy enough. But I have this sweet MST3K dress that makes me feel like a princess nerd, and at eight years in to it, RPS feels like a pretty safe world for me, so I wore it out last night.
Whether it's correlation or causation, here's a list of all the inappropriate, unwarranted, unasked for behavior that happened to me last night, and literally has never happened at any other RPS event I've ever been out at:
- Non-RPS dude placed his hand in the small of my back to pass me. He did this to the female player in front of me as well. Did not do this to any other persons standing near us. He had plenty of room to pass people without touching any of them.
- Non-RPS dude "stumbled" past me while I was sitting on a stool, caught himself by placing his hand on my thigh (almost at my crotch) and on my ass.
- RPS player I'd never met draped himself over me from behind while having a conversation with the other players I was facing. Wrapped his arm around my chest/neck in a bear hug that I could not get out of without standing up and physically breaking away from him. (I did not do this. I sat there and froze and waited for it to be over.)
- A conversation with other RPS player where I was describing another, similar dress that I don't wear very often, because it's too small and physically makes me uncomfortable when I wear it. The other RPS player grinned and told me that "too tight isn't a problem," even though I'd just stated that it made me uncomfortable.
In the grand scheme of things, no, these things aren't big deals. But as someone who is fiercely protective of their bodily autonomy, as someone who is both sensitive and adverse to touch, yes, they are. I doubt any of the dudes in these situation thought they were doing anything inappropriate, or making anyone uncomfortable. Because honestly, they probably go through their days without thinking about things like this.
I didn't call any of these people out on their behavior. Most of it happened too quickly for me to do anything about it. Usually, it's because I am bad at confrontation anyway and freeze rather than fight. And, certainly, part of it may have had to do with being in the dress in the first place. Whether I presented as it or not, as much as I love that dress, it made me feel more vulnerable all night, which does amount to a drain on my mental energy.
So. For crying out loud, try not to touch strangers in inappropriate, too-personal-relative-to-your-standing-relationship-with-them ways. Even in crowds. If women are talking to you about their clothing choices, odds are, they're not talking about them with you to titillate you. Don't make weird inappropriate sexualizing jokes about how they do or do not choose to present themselves in public. Unless you're involved in a sexual relationship with them, odds are, they are not presenting themselves for you. Don't make it weird, dudes. Don't make it weird.