How NOT to Respond to a Groping

It happens, I guess. 

It happens in America and it happens in the Middle East (and elsewhere I'm sure) but it had never happened to me.

Before Max and I went to Amman for our first overseas experience we were informed that, unfortunately, I should be prepared for an unwelcome pat on the rump or a fully-intentional-accidental brushing up against in public spaces from time to timeI was so prepared for such an event that the first words I learned in Arabic meant "Shame on you!" and I practiced a hand swat that would surely deflect any wandering perverts.  Perhaps as a result of my precaution (or just plain old good luck) such an occasion never befell me in Jordan or Jerusalem.  I did get spit on by a small boy at the Kalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem once, but that's not quite the same thing. 

A few weekends ago we traveled to the southern coastal town of Essaouira via Marrakesh.  We spent one night in a lovely Riad so our visiting friend could experience the madness of Jemaa El-Fna - and madness it was.  Feeling a bit more confident than our first time in the square I led our posse of three right to a circle of people gathered around traditional musicians.  The three of us stood on our tippy toes and shuffled back an forth to get a glimps of the musicians' hat tassels orbiting their bobbing heads.

Just as I settled into a little perch where I could see the action, I felt an arm/shoulder/hand brush past my backside quite forcefully.  My immediate, unthinking response?  I swung around to see the punk, mid 20's, as he was slinking away and gave him a two handed, open handed shove from behind.  Me!? Shove a stranger!?  Knowing the level of his guilt he, of course, didn't even turn around but kept on walking.  (That's how I knew it was him - would you just keep on walking if a stranger shoved you out of the blue?)  But as I was mad dogging him, my back turned to the circle, a felt another close encounter from the circle and after swinging back around (hands at my side this time) I felt another one from yet another direction.  Good night!  (And not 'good night' as in isn't a triple groping awesome?  but 'good night' as in Good Hell People!)

"We gotta get out of here!"

I yelled to Max and our friend over the drums and general chaos of the square.  We made it to safety in a nearby cafe and as I explained to Max what had happened including my completely automatic (and un-recommendable) response his eyes got big.  I think he was one part proud that my instinct was to fight back, but also one part horrified about what I might have done had he actually turned around to face me.  It wouldn't have been pretty.

Anyway, don't get groped.  And if you do...I'm not sure that starting a fight is the best course of action...

...but to each their own I say.            


  1. Hahahahaha! Is it too Spice Girly to say "You Go Girl!" because, seriously

    One time I started a fight after someone made a particularly vulgar gesture at me in my car. I was in the passenger seat and my husband was driving and was COMPLETELY mortified that I was ready (and loudly threatening) to kick a car full of teenage boys in the crotch.

  2. If you ever go to the Taj Mahal, skip the small room where you can visit the queen's (??) tomb. It's tightly packed, and I've never been so groped in my life. I was only 17 when I went there and had no idea what to do. Consider yourself warned!

  3. Ah-haha! Oh, Brooke!

    Sorry for two things: 1) that it happened and 2) that I'm laughing about it!

    I really am sorry this happened because it stinks when it does—it makes me angry at every man I encounter for a few days—but you told it so comically.

    My little Brookie, off and pickin' fights... :)

  4. My favorite line?
    "And not 'good night' as in isn't a triple groping awesome? but 'good night' as in Good Hell People!"
    So sorry you got triple groped, but I'm glad you fought back and I laughed pretty darn hard while reading.
    Love you. And keep Max close by...

  5. Thank you. That made me laugh. Not in a that is so funny way, but a I love that all of us have our moments of unbridled response.
    You are wonderful.

  6. Good for you. When you push back it helps men know they can't just get away with it, eh?

    And very random, but I also got spit on by a boy 3 years ago at the Ramallah border crossing. He actually spit his gum on me. Maybe it was the same boy?

  7. I'm glad you shoved him. He totally deserved it.

  8. Noted Liz :) Taj Mahal is on our list for 2013/2014. I'll be sure to have my swatting hand ready.

    Nancy - it's funny! Don't be sorry :) I mean of course it's startling and makes you mad, but the whole thing is a little bit funny.

  9. What a terrible experience. Seriously who do they think they are? Only thing I would have loved more is if Max had been the one to start a fight to preserve your honor.

  10. Wow, this post actually makes me feel so much better. I didn't realize that when you went to Jordan they forewarned you about being groped because it was common and you needed to be on your guard. They didn't mention anything like that to us when we went and I actually had a man put his hand on my breast while we were taking a picture at the one of the tourist sights (he was dressed up in a traditional costume). Jon saw what happened and LOST it totally. I was afraid he was going to beat up the guy. The police got involved and they wanted me to press charges against the guy-- I guess because it was common and they wanted to catch him so it didn't happen to other tourists.

    To make a long story short the whole ordeal turned into a case of my "honor" being defend by the Jordanian court system and the guy ended up going to jail. It was pretty crazy... and something like that would never have happened in the US because it is just assumed that it is Normal and that women just have to deal with it.

    Anyway, as silly as it sounds thank you for sharing this. Because I've had lingering guilt all these years that I should have just not said anything and not made a big deal about it. But knowing that it is a common thing that happens to women in the Middle East somehow makes me feel better about it (oh, and it also turned out that the groping guy was wanted for smuggling so that made it a double case).

    Okay, that was more than you wanted to know! I love following your adventures by the way.

  11. Who knew all the adventures you would have along the way? Here's hoping it doesn't get repeated...even if your telling of it was hilarious. I loved your video in the other post. One more reason (besides pushin' the yucky guy) that I want to be like Brooke.

  12. Sorry about what happened to you. This happens to moroccan girls as well. It's a problem that's too deeply rooted (education, women's rights..). All I can tell you is, no matter how angry you get, try not to retaliate. A guy who does something like that might not "appreciate" getting hit by a woman in public. It would only make it worse. If it happens again (I hope it doesn't) and you feel that anger rising think of whoever else is with you.

    There are a lot of (bad word)s in Morocco, but there are also a lot of good people who wouldn't stand around and do nothing if they see a foreigner get harrassed by these hoodlums.

  13. Mouhssine -

    Thanks so much for commenting. I agree with you that escalation was and is a bad idea.

    I also agree with you that there are MANY great people in Morocco. Any society has people who do dumb things, just as they have many people who are kind and do good things. Don't worry, we have loved our time in Morocco in large part due to the great people.

    Again, thanks for posting!