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Chatological Humor has become a (platonic and deeply respectful) admirer of Amanda Hess's "The Sexist" column and blog in the Washington City Paper. Ms. Hess is smart, witty, and entertainingly arch, though, at times she makes me feel as though she and I exist in a similar but parallel universe. Never was this more true than a few weeks ago when The Sexist addressed a certain touchy subject. Basically, the column seemed to divide the world into two types of people:

1) Women

and

2) Gropers.

I cannot confirm the truth of this, though I believe I am neither of the above. I believe I have never groped a woman who was not a willing participant in said gropage, so I was somewhat taken aback by the underlying assumptions here. But, not being a woman, I don't really know what I am talking about. I need to hear from the ladies, and I think Chatological Humor was a good place to continue the dialogue.

Here is a link to the column.

I advise you to read it, but I'll try to summarize: Gropings happen all the time, says the column, and in many insidious ways. Essentially, they are defined as an unwanted sexual physical touching, usually by a stranger in a public places like a dark club or a crowded train/bus -- but sometimes by acquaintances who seize unwanted sexual liberties, such as when a man is shaking your hand but using his other hand to sneak some side-boob action through a seemingly benign coordinated triceps grip.

The poll follows:

Men, have you ever groped a woman without her permission and / or knowledge? By groping, we're talking about a furtive touching that brings you sexual pleasure.
 
No, never.
 
Yes, once or twice.
 
Yes, a few times.
 
Yes, I do it -- or used to do it -- often.
 
 
 
Do you think it is ethically and/or morally wrong to touch a woman in this sort of way?
 
Yes.
 
Yes, but only if she is aware of what you are doing; if it's subtle enough, then there's no harm and no foul.
 
I think playful touching is exactly that, playful touching. If a woman complains, I'll stop, but otherwise, c'mon.
 
 
 
Which of the following behaviors by a man do you feel is clearly inappropriate, assuming they are unbidden? Assume the man does not know the woman very well. (Choose as many as appropriate)
 
Lightly putting an arm around the woman's shoulders, while walking and talking with her.
 
Lightly putting an arm around the woman's waist while walking and talking with her.
 
Moving moving in to greet the woman hello or goodbye with a cheek kiss.
 
Moving in to greet the woman hello or goodbye with a light hug.
 
Lightly touching the leg of a woman beside him just above the knee, to emphasize a point.
 
Standing near a woman in a crowded bus or metro, subtly trying to smell her hair, but not touching her.
 
Ogling a woman's legs from afar; trying to be discreet but maybe not entirely succeeding.
 
None of these is inappropriate.

 
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