What is it with men and inappropriate touch?

And why am I the one who feels guilty?

For the past two years I have been exploring a healing modality (thanks to ex-Mistress), first as a recipient and now as a practitioner.  It is a type of somatic therapy that is relatively obscure and one that shall remain nameless as it is not germane to the discussion.

At the heart of it lies the idea that our bodies record our feelings, our stresses, our memories into our muscles, organs, etc just as we record memories in the brain.  This is not unusual in the body-energy healing world axis, and what might be astounding is how parallel the traditions of healers around the world are despite the cultural and historical context they may have formed in.

Part of the training process involves practice, and touch, and on a group week-long retreat, we get plenty of opportunity to practice on other people.  I have chosen to keep my training bra on, not least because my new breasts are extremely sensitive, but also because they may be incongruous to some, and I am not sure I want to be stared at or noticed in that way.

The breast area, as are other “sensitive” areas, is considered a no-go zone.  We don’t do it.  In the 50 or so times that someone has practiced on me, both before and after the visible appearance of my breasts, nobody has broken that pattern.  Until now.

Yesterday, one of the other participants, a man (are we even surprised), went into the zone and stayed there.  And as I lay there, I was hoping one of the teachers would intervene, would tell him to move his hands away, but their attention was elsewhere.  And I kept thinking, ‘surely he doesn’t mean it,’ or ‘surely he is not trying to fondle me,’ but for some reason I couldn’t just open my mouth and tell him to move his hands out of the zone.

This is a safe space.  People touching each other energetically all week.  Trust has to be complete.  And so I was thinking, ‘maybe it’s just me,” and ‘surely I’m mistaken,’ and ‘of course he isn’t trying to touch my breasts.’

Objectively, my breasts are beautiful.  They are still very small, but they are perfect in their perkiness and roundness, and just stick straight out.  I think any woman would remember from their teens what those early moments were like, regardless of their eventual path.  It hadn’t occurred to me that my circus freak body might attract unwanted attention.

But afterwards, I replayed everything about the situation, the run-up, and just how predatory it was.  And none of it felt right in the aftermath.  But now I just feel guilty about it, as if it is my fault, that somehow I did something, and yes, I should have said something, and we could have just moved on, but now I can’t help but feel we have a predator in the nest, and I don’t know if I can keep silent about it.

What kind of thinking allows a man to not think these actions are wrong? Especially now when people talk about it more openly? How can someone not know that what they are doing is predatory? Are they so entitled? And the worst thing for me? I don’t think I feel safe in that space anymore. And I know if I bring it up, he will gaslight me. No thanks, I get plenty of that from my wife.

And I am thinking, how can I not say something?  The fallout, however, is likely to be that he is spoken to.  And where does that put me and/or him?  It is a horrible spot to be in.  Curse me for upsetting the apple cart. 

And the worst thing is that there is no “event” that took place.  He didn’t formally grope me.  He did make contact in passing, and he left his hand right there, between them, gently making contact with both of them.  He was one of a number of people that I had not yet practiced with.  He said, “I’m the only one,” pointing to himself and shrugging as he came to claim me as a partner…and I was thinking, no, I haven’t practiced yet with her, and her, and her.

And he was so complimentary to me, to my skills.  And we all love to hear good things said about us, and I felt flattered.  But when he touched me it felt different.  Other men have touched me during these courses, and it never felt ‘off’, but this time it did.  He put his hand under my bra straps when I was face down, and right on the front of my bra when I was face up.  And I think, cripey, I’ve never done that, wouldn’t even consider it unless I was asked…and nobody else has ever done that either.

And after, I was just glad it was over.  He went for a tea with the person I have been pals with on the course and told her how gifted I was, which she later repeated to me.  But this just feels like more grooming.  Later, in the group share, he was a little aggressive, expressing anger that a woman over lunch had told him to stop speaking over her.  There was another similar incident that he also referred to, and he complained about how it made him feel upset and angry.

And now, I am thinking about how he described a desire to be in this space as a desire to touch people, and I can’t help but think about how one might reinterpret those words with less kind implications.

I just feel gross.  And his behaviour reminds me of the behaviour of other men I have encountered: a man who rubbed my legs on an airplane, but pretended to be asleep.  And worst of all, the man who sexually assaulted me when I was younger, or a man in the cinema who began touching me in ways that seemed accidental until it became obvious that it was not.

I really don’t understand it.

When I made a vow to accept the female experience for both good and bad, I had to accept vulnerability, the threat of rape, losing my physical dominance.  This is the first time I have been taken advantage of.  I don’t have to like it, but I can still embrace the journey.  Yes, some men may fetishize this body…or me…gross…but that’s about them.  And yet, even though I feel clean, the nasty taste of filth still lingers in the air.

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