I cannot tell you how many times men have groped my butt, touched my breasts, pulled up my skirt and tried to put their fingers in my panties all while dancing.
Let me paint the scene for you: It’s the weekend and college parties are the highlight. You enter a room and the smell of sweat mingled with alcohol and smoke hits you. It’s cramped and dark. Top 40/hip hop music is blasting, leaving no room for conversation. Imagine a woman vigorously (and musically, some might argue) rubbing her butt against a man’s crotch. Next, imagine hundreds of college students “dancing” in this manner.
Welcome to college parties. Welcome to the phenomenon of grinding.
Some might argue that grinding is simply a fun, harmless dance, but here are some reasons that will hopefully persuade you to realize that grinding is a dysfunctional product of our patriarchal society that has unfortunately been normalized and thought of as “cool.”
1. Grinding is all about male pleasure.
I’ll admit that I used to think grinding was fun. But I soon realized that it was possibly the most boring “dance” that has ever been invented. Correction: It’s probably the most boring dance for women, but the most exciting dance for men. All you do is shake your butt left, right, up and down. That’s it. Grinding is a way for women to service men by rubbing their butts against men’s crotches. Now ask yourself, women, what exactly are you getting out of grinding? You’re serving and pleasuring a man sexually while he stands there and does basically nothing. I know that you’ve been taught that grinding is fun and cool, but the act of grinding is inherently sexist, created so that men can be sexually stimulated and pleasured.
2. Men often start grinding with a woman without her consent.
The concept of consent often seems to be lost on men when it comes to grinding. The norm is not to ask a woman if she wants to dance with you, but simply to hover behind a woman for a while and then grab her hips and start grinding with her. No introduction. No consent. Most of the time, you don’t even know the guy you’re dancing with or what he looks like. Of course, it’s the culture for women to not ask any questions and simply grind with the random stranger who just stepped up behind you. But really, it’s not that difficult for men to say these five words, “May I dance with you?”
3. Sexual harassment and assault often occurs during grinding.
Men often take advantage of women when grinding with them. Try to follow this illogical way of thinking, which is unfortunately practiced by many college males: “So, I’m grinding with this girl. Because I’m grinding with her, I now have permission to touch her wherever I want. Plus, I’m drunk/high/etc. I wouldn’t really do this in real life, but this is a college party.”
Obviously, there are some logical gaps in this pathetic way of thinking. I cannot tell you how many times men have groped my butt, touched my breasts, pulled up my skirt and tried to put their fingers in my panties all while grinding. Just because I have decided to grind with you does not give you permission to molest me. Just because you’re drunk/high/whatever does not give you permission to disrespect me.
What is alarming is that I have heard from so many women who complain about being sexually harassed and/or assaulted when grinding with men, but they seem to accept this as a norm—as something they should tolerate because that’s what college parties are all about.
4. Grinding creates an unnecessary and destructive dichotomy amongst women (and men too).
We all know that college parties can be socially stressful. But the practice of grinding takes this stress to a rather ridiculous level. Unfortunately, many women worry that they are not attractive enough to entice men to grind with them. Women who are grinding men are seen as attractive and desired while women who are not grinding can end up feeling unwanted. The same goes for men, guys who don’t have a woman to grind with are just not “cool.” Put simply, college parties can be described as a waiting game where women have to wait for men to grind with them. Realistically, women are waiting to sexually serve a man who in all likelihood will not bother asking for consent. Is it really worth your time?
So, men, it’s all about consent. If you wish to grind, ask for consent. It’s not that complicated.
And, women, if you feel uncomfortable when grinding with someone at a party, feel free to say “No” and walk away. You don’t need your best friend to come and “save” you by pulling you away; you are perfectly capable of “saving” yourself. And know that it is unacceptable for men to be touching you inappropriately without your consent. Don’t become a passive participant in a practice that perpetuates lack of consent and rape culture. Just because all your friends grind does not mean that you have to be part of this culture. Just because grinding is the norm at college parties does not mean that it should go unquestioned and unchallenged.