I once had a department chair, during a party at his house, suddenly appear behind me with his hands on my shoulders, massaging them. When I looked up to see whose hands were on my shoulder, I saw him scanning the crowd, a distinct look of pride of ownership on his face. I immediately turned my face away from his and took, too, to scanning the crowd, looking for his wife. When I relayed this scene to my mentor, he made a joke out of it. At the time, I laughed; I got it; I’d revealed a very uncomfortable act & he didn’t know how to respond. So, laughter. The problem came later, when the joke became a permanent fixture in our lives; any problem I had with a male colleague or with the male chair would be met with “well, at least he didn’t massage you!” I never laughed & my relationship with that mentor quickly Crash Boomed.
That’s what we get called by those who want pleasure at our expense and without our permission. Stick-in-the-mud. Proper Patsy. Women are expected to lie quietly and let our bodies be used for men’s pleasure. People of color are expected to muzzle up and let white people create stereotypes about our work ethic, our sexual interests, our choices of music and dance. People with disabilities are expected to turn a “blind eye” to the comedies that turn them into mindless blobs of flesh. After all, Life is Like a Box of Chocolates. & anyone who takes offense to straight men portraying flamboyantly flamboyant gay men is a Humorless Henrietta. It’s all innocent.