A Bum Deal

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m starting my day with a cup of tea, a load of editing and Channel 5 chat show The Wright Stuff on in the background. As the panellists chew over the issues and news stories of the day, one topic gets my attention. Bum pinching.

Apparently a group of South London women are trying to get their local clubs to throw out men that are caught pinching unsuspecting ladies’ bottoms. Good on ‘em, I think, and it’s back to editing, and words, and stuff.

‘Oh for God sake,’ chimes in guest panellist and Loose Women presenter, Lynda Bellingham. ‘It’s just a bit of fun. Have you seen what women wear in clubs these days, if they bend over you could see their knickers!’ *CUE BLATANT SEXISM KLAXON*

Editing takes a back seat now as my brain tries to even slightly comprehend this massively dubious implication that the scantily clad ladies were obviously asking for a big ol’ booty grab. Nope, not going to happen. I’m dumbfounded.

I’ve lived in London for almost five years now and have never had my bum pinched by a stranger. Maybe this says more about the grope-ability of my backside than it does the state of society, but I’m really surprised to hear that this still goes on in bars and clubs. I can imagine I’d be more than a bit hacked off if it happened to me. As in the drink in face/swift kick to the crotch type of hacked off.

A quick scan of The Wright Stuff Facebook page reveals a torrent of varied responses to the question of whether a campaign against bum pinching is one worth fighting. ‘It’s harmless fun, bring it on lol,’ says one female while one male spouts: ‘Next they will look to ban car horns, wolf whistling and cheesy chat up lines. If getting your bum pinched on a night out is the biggest problem in your life, you have no idea how lucky you are.’ Yes, readers, that’s the sound of PHYSICAL HARRASSMENT being equated with dodgy chat up lines. However several women on the feed cite incidents where an uninvited grope has ruined their evening or sent them home in tears, and thankfully one male has the sense to point out that: ‘Groping is out of order. For both sexes. It is lurid, offensive and ultimately intimidating. No women should have to accept this from these types of decrepit, lecherous males.’ Random Facebook man, I would like to give you and your sage, erudite words a GIANT HUG. 

Let’s be clear. Whether or not the logistics of a ‘one pinch and you’re out’ club ejection policy are practical, whether it’s a male or female doing the pinching/grabbing, and whether or not the pinch recipient actually thinks it’s the funniest thing since pugs dressed as Yoda...it’s not OK. You wouldn’t think someone putting their grubby paws on your behind at the bus stop or on the tube was ‘just a laugh’; you’d undoubtedly think it was sexual harassment – so why should clubbing be any different? 

Still think the South London ladies are taking things too far? Spare a thought for British man Steven Sherriff who was jailed for six months in Dubai after pinching a woman’s bottom in a bar. Or Australian Wayne Burnham, who was fined $600 and banned from various pubs for the same offence, outside a taxi rank. 

Getting chucked out of a club is nothing compared to how other countries react to bum based assault. Pinching, poking, grabbing, groping – whatever you want to call it – is unpleasant, creepy and intimidating and it’s about time Brits start to take it more seriously. I’m not saying that every creep with a wandering hand should be sent to the guillotine (I’m more a gallows kind of girl) but throwing them out of a club for a bit of fresh air and some advice on how to actually talk to the opposite sex may not be the worst idea.