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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Female bodies are not a free-for-all

// Illustration by Emily Erskine

By Emily Erskine

2019 is coming to an end and it is time for men to stop touching female bodies without consent.

Most of movie, television and literature history have presented women as helpless without a man or just overall in desperate need of guidance. But it’s not 1940 anymore and Scarlett O’Hara has long since been gone. Women do not need to be groped and coddled.

They never have.

In the aftermath of the #metoo and #timesup movements, the conversations surrounding consent in the bedroom are still relevant and necessary, but what about conversations regarding “harmless” hip grabbing, shoulder touching and lower back guiding from strangers in public spaces?

You know those really unfortunate situations in bars, clubs, concerts or any other busy spaces of a similar vein, where certain men feel the need to touch the body of the woman he is walking past? Most women have been there, most don’t say anything about it, but most probably want it to end.

It’s an uncomfortable thing, making a seemingly “big deal” out of situations like that, but why should it be? Nobody has the right to touch another person without permission.

A study conducted by Oxford University and Finland’s Aalto University in 2015 found that the majority of women said the only part of their body they were comfortable with male strangers touching is their hands. 

Inappropriate public physical touch needs to be talked about more. 

In a world of independent women in the workplace and more overall autonomy for females and their bodies in general, more conversations should be had about boundaries. 

Yes, not only women experience this sort of harassment, men, transgender and non-binary folks do too, and everyone feels they should “let it go.” But it’s almost 2020, and we should leave touching strangers behind and please, don’t let it go.


  1. Very well said. If someone needs to pass me, they can say “excuse me” and I will move to let them pass. Fortunately, I am old enough to speak up. I have had men try to touch my face twice. When I backed up the first man was truly sorry and apologized for offending me. He is now a friend. The second on laughed and seemed to like my reaction of offense. I let him have it right there in front of everyone. My grandchildren would be shocked at the language that came out of my mouth.


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