Being a woman comes with its ups and downs, and young women need all the preparation they can get to make that transition from girlhood to adulthood. One of the less wonderful aspects of womanhood is the way you will be treated by men, particularly by intoxicated men.
Most guys tend to hold it together when sober and manage to keep illicit thoughts or desires to themselves. But in bars, at parties, during celebrations, wherever alcohol may be involved, many men seem to flip a switch after drinking a few too many. They’ll start getting a little too familiar with the women around them, particularly younger or more vulnerable looking women. They’ll begin making passes, making inappropriate comments or battling hot tempers if they’re rejected. This drunk harassment plagues women everywhere.
There’s no guarantee that each woman will encounter something like this in their life. If you tend to avoid bars or parties where alcohol flows freely you may not necessarily encounter this often, and even if you do it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to see it. And make no mistake, you should never feel pressured to consider drunk male attention a virtue. It’s uncomfortable, it’s creepy and it’s harassment, without a doubt. And although it can feel overwhelming, you have options to address scenarios that could occur.
Try to diffuse the situation
Most women learn fairly quickly that the best way to diffuse the attention of a drunk man is to politely not engage more than you have to. Simple affirmative responses, @mshannabrooks/why-women-smile-at-men-who-sexually-harass-us-cf4eeb90ed30#.xt0urash7">a pleasant smile and edging somewhere else can be enough to lose his attention and convince him you wouldn’t be interesting to pay attention to. Search for his companions and see if one of them can pay attention to him long enough for him to decide he won’t pursue you for the night. By avoiding interacting with him too much, something I learned in Hawaii, you can avoid capturing too much of his attention or striking up any particular strong emotions in him, and allowing his friends to take care of him can give him another set of people to focus on and interact with so he’s not focused on you.
In general, the best way to get a drunk guy to leave you alone is to minimize your interactions with him as much as possible. Beyond a courteous smile, don’t give any indication that you want to talk to him, because that’ll probably motivate him to persistently attempt to talk to you all night. You want to avoid angering him, especially if he’s a stranger and you don’t know how he’ll react, but most importantly you want to avoid engaging with him, because drunk men will frequently take any opportunity to interpret an interaction as mutual interest.
Encourage other men to get involved
The best way to protect yourself from a drunk man, whether it’s from mild unnecessary comments or serious unwanted physical attention, is to get others involved, and ideally in between, you and the man harassing you. But it’s also most effective to get other men involved. Men generally tend to obey men more than they obey women (and we can spend a whole psychology course discussing why that is), which means a man trying to calm a drunk man down is likely to have more success.
Many encounters of men harassing women are public are successfully stopped by other men stepping up, like the tale of a 17-year old boy stopping a man physically harassing a woman in a Target. Or a less-patient encounter of a man harassing women on the beach before getting knocked out by an intervening gentleman.
Don’t be afraid to make a scene
Whether you’re in public, in a more private location or somewhere in between, don’t be afraid to make a scene to get help if a drunk man is harassing you. Look for security, look to passersby, look towards anyone who could intervene to intervene, and don’t be afraid to turn to strangers. If a drunk man is harassing you enough that you feel like you need to get away from him, no matter what he’s doing, it’s a good idea to let some sort of authority figure know. You’re not overreacting to just give someone a heads up that you’re getting unwanted attention, and you’re not burdening someone by asking them to prevent a drunk man from harassing you.
Dealing with drunk men is one of the growing pains of womanhood. But you don’t have to feel totally helpless and vulnerable if you’re caught in such a situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t engage directly and do prioritize your safety above all else.