As a teenager, I would hear this term a lot. "So and so was hitting on me" or "he hit on her" or "he was hitting on me"--and I don't think I really understood what it meant. I think as a teenager i even accepted it as normal way of how you initiated contacted with guys/men or how men initiated contact.
It is defined online as:
Hit on (verb): A slang term which means to pay unsolicited and usually unwanted sexual attention to.
I konw that in the past, just before someone is "hitting on me or giving me unsolicited / unwanted sexual attention", I get always a weird feeling and start feeling a bit uncomfortable. When they "hit on me", I am probably left confused, unclear, *blanked out feeling*, a bit shocked and.... unfortunately, even thinking if I did something before hand to cause it. Sometimes, it's harder to be clear if it comes from someone you may find "physically OK or attractive even".
I would appreciate some comments if you can let me know that isn't hitting on someone a form of abuse too? (hitting on can be done physically, verbal, non-verbal comunication, etc). Would really appreciate it.
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The definition of 'hitting on' you have given - 'unwanted and unsocited sexual attention' is sexual harrassment at best - and therefore abuse - and sexual assault/rape at worst. It's disgusting and dehumanizing - no wonder you felt weird afterwards. Like an object?
Sexual harrassment is done with language. If they physically touch you sexually through your clothes, it's BEYOND sexual harrassment and is sexual assault. Non-verbal sexual harrassment would be rude hand gestures, licking their lips at you, drawing sexual explicit pictures of you and showing others - this is sexual harrassment also, because it's communicating a sexual message to you without consent.
They were wrong to do it, even if you find them attractive; it's still sexual harrassment. I agree it's harder to be clear with the ones you are attracted to, but you shouldn't HAVE to be - the majority of people don't want to be treated like that, and those who have abused you in this way should know that, and probably do. Abuse is about power.
Though I hear you - It's harder to be assertive or to try to get away from the attractive perpetrators of harrassment - you want the person to be attracted to you but also to respect you. This is also NOT your fault at all, it's all too human to want to be desired. But, we all need self-protection; it's abuse, and if they're treating you this way then they aren't even worth your affection. There are others who will respect your body and mind and treat you like a real sexual being with your own feelings and thoughts rather than a pleasure object for power reasons.
Abuse is not at all your fault for not being clear; its a horrible thing to have forced on us - sexual language and attention to our body parts and functions without consent. You are a person and deserve respect for your own feelings and own body.
The key word is sexual - if you tell someone they have gorgeous clothes, that would be non-sexual, even if they really don't want you appreciation or care if you like their clothes or be attracted to them. But if you tell them you think that they have 'nice legs' - that's too personal and is sexual harrassment.
I always took 'hitting on' (sounds violent really lol) as the same as 'making a pass at'; 'making a play for'; 'someone 'coming on to' someone'...basically seeing if someone is interested in you and then backing away when they aren't. That online thing is really weird to define it as a 'slang term for sexual harrassment' - it wouldn't be a slang term anyway it would be a sugar-coated euthamisum for something horrible. Sexual harrassment is abuse, nothing else. I know it's very accepted by our culture, but that doesn't make it any less horrible and disgusting.
This would be 'making a pass at' (two stangers in a club):
Person A: Hello, I'm Sarah, you look so pretty, I love your blue eyes!
Person B: (turns away or makes no response)
Person A: (returns to bar to speak to others).
Person A: (winks at person B and smiles)
Person B: (nervous smile)
Person A: (walks over) Hello, I'm Sarah, I love your red hair. I wish I had red hair.
Person B: Oh, I think black hair would suit me better.
Person A: Oh no! I think you're really attractive as you are!
Person B: Thank you! Wanna dance?
And then Person A (Sarah) could ask if Person B would like her to kiss her hand or maybe even kiss on the lips after seeing that she is interested in dancing and holding hands or something. She could even ask directly: 'do you think I'm pretty too?' This could possibly lead to a situation where sexual contact could occur after verbal, enthusiastic, honest consent.
Those may be classed as 'hitting on' whether it's wanted and appreciated or not. Whereas sexual harrassment would be:
Person A: Hello, I'm Sarah. You've got a nice butt.
Person B: (nervous laugh)
Person A: No seriously, you have a great butt.
Person B has not really been clear, because the comment was so rude and they are nervous and embarassed and aren't really sure how to give Sarah a piece of their mind. Exactly that *blanked out*, confused, unclear feeling you described. This is an extremely common reaction to this kind of treatment, and I've felt it too.
Despite the fact that Person B find Sarah extremely attractive, they feel degraded by her abuse, rudeness and harrassed by her complete lack of consent to talk about their body in this way.
It's still abuse, despite Person B's reaction. Even if Person B had been delighted by the remark, it was still sexual harrassment because when she said what she did, Sarah had NO consent from Person B to talk about their private body in this way or make her sexual desires reguarding Person B's body known to them. Person B deserves to have full consent to any sexual behaviour at all.
The second example is 'unsocited and unwanted sexual attention' whereas the first is just friendly showing of attraction. People tend to confuse the two, but if a person is really attracted to someone causing sexual feelings - that's *their* business, not yours; until they have your fully infomed, enthusiastic, verbal consent. You are a person; not a set of body parts, and if they can't see you beyond body parts then they probably shouldn't be persuing any kind of sex, romance or friendship with you.
The examples I gave were set in a club though, where you 'expect' people to socialise. However, some people seem to think it's okay to go up to people in the street and show attraction in a friendly way. Which would be fine, but not without an invitation from the person who the attraction is being shown to: like a smile or interested gazing, or them even starting or responding happily to a conversation. Then they can compliment them and show how much you like / fancy them. However, this can still become non-sexual harrassment if you are very persistant when they don't encourage you or extend on the subject.
Anyone trying to pretend that verbal or non-verbal sexual harrassment or sexual assault (actual physical nonconsentual sexual contact) is actually 'a friendly respectful display of their attraction' is just being downright cruel and insulting.
Thank you so much for this discussion. I am going to be processing and thinking about this and will post here.
I have heard the term or phrase "like an object " or "piece of meat" (which i even said to the abuser actually), but never really understood or felt comfortable with what it *really* means. I always felt they were just cliches that I was exposed to.
I will be thinking more on this and will write back. Many thanks again...
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You're very welcome, I'll be right here when you get back.
Objects don't have feelings, thoughts, wishes or desires. They cannot give any kind of consent to whatever people want to use them for. They are just there to be used by or to sexually arouse or to entertain other people.
Using the example of an everyday object like a lamp; a lamp is there to help us see in the dark, it has no other choice because it doesn't have a mind. When people talk about people being treated like 'sex objects', they mean that the owner of the body's wishes and sexual desires are being ignored, and the body is presented like a lamp; there to help others instead of its owner.
What is called 'Sexual objectification' is the idea that a peron's body is an object itself. There to help others, there to turn other people on / arouse them / provide THEM with sexual pleasure, instead of being there to help its owner. People sometimes brush these things off as cliches and make fun of them, because it takes away their power of feeling like they can see someone else's body as a gift for them.
The body allows you to survive on earth, play, experience life, reproduce and have a lovely sexuality of your own to bring you happiness, feel amazing pleasure and power, freedom to express yourself by sharing sex with others. Nobody really 'gives' or 'gets' sex - it's something we choose share with others and their own sexuality or express by ourselves.
Sure, people we have sexual feelings for or just admire can perhaps look good to us, and it feels good to look at them for some people, but their bodies aren't there for anyone but themselves - and need to be respected as someone else's and the temple of their minds.
Like the lamp, meat is the same deal (its just flesh there to be eaten / used), it has no mind; it can't say 'don't eat me, I'd rather do something else to express myself', if you know what I mean
People's bodies are neither meat nor objects, but they can be treated like them when there is a lack of consent.
However, sex is the opposite of abuse. Sex is something you do to express your sexuality. Your sexuality is something internal, that was developed before you even had a body really, it just began your brain develops when you were a growing baby in the womb.
Heather Corinna says that sex is only sex when 'everyone involved wants, freely chooses and agrees to do and actively participates in. where when there is more than one person involved, what's going on is sex for both people, and wanted by both people, not just one.'
It's about YOU, not them. Without consent, they are making it about THEM and your body, without any participation from you yourself and your sexuality, who lives inside and owns your body. So it seems that the body is being treated like an object or meat, rather than the house for the whole world of breath.
Heather also said this about bodies: 'Our skin, our bodies, they house who we are, they allow us to do things with who we are, and they can provide us all these experiences we'd not have without them.'
and also about sexuality:
'If we say sexuality, we mean the physical, chemical, emotional and intellectual properties and processes that are how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings...
If we say someone is having sex, or doing something sexual, we mean they are acting from their own sexuality, looking to express it in action and/or to try and actively experience or explore a feeling of general or specific sexual desire, curiosity and/or satisfaction.'
Sex and sexuality are about YOU; not other people and what they like about your body their interest in your body (The house of your mind and sexuality). Your sexuality is the thing that is needed for you to actually have sex. Your body is there for you to use to express YOUR sexuality. If your body was a train track, your sexuality would be the train. You need both track and train to go anywhere, and you need both a body and sexuality to have sex. Your sexuality is something you're in full control of; when you don't want to have sex, there can't be any sex.
Your body is not there for others to 'use' like an object without treating it as a temple for a real person to live inside. Not there for them to 'use' as meat to eat. There for breath to express herself.
Well done for standing up to the abuser like that! They were disregarding your SexYOUality and taking away your rights to your own body, which is NOT meat!
THanks for this great response. Again- this is the first time I have had this technically conversation with someone so it is going to take me time to process it.
some background: I also put some closure/final words to incidents of sexual abuse and assault and harrassment with different individuals I went through, while I was aboard (living/working) in a very hostile place and unsupportive environment
When I told him that you treat me like a piece of meat (i just felt that way; without really thinking too hard about this background), he was just like you are not a piece of meat to me. That this discussion ended and I suppressed/did and took some "fake comfort" in his words, due to a host of factors. This person then later on continued to "assaulted me/sexually abused"me, words that I learned to describe what happened here on this form.
THANK YOU RaeRay for explaining this to me so well. Something that I was unclear of (but intuitively hinting at) and you put it in great words for me...will be thinking
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