Grope

A trip to a sauna isn't normally a birthday present, but this one leads to thoughts on consent, and some tips on oral sex. 

 

Transcript

A few weeks ago a mate of mine had a birthday. He doesn’t like parties and stuff like that, so instead of having a big bash with him, he asked if we could go to a sauna instead. He’d not been before and wanted to go, but didn’t want to be there on his own, as he was a little nervous.

For those not in the know, a gay sauna is like a normal sauna - wet rooms, steam rooms, hot tub, all that sort of thing. Except it’s full of gay men, so there tends to be lots of shagging and stuff going on in there, too. In fact, usually as well as the sauna and steam room and bits, they generally usually have little rooms not much bigger than a cupboard, with padded benches in them, where you can Get To Know your newest Gentleman Friend a bit better. Those benches are wipe-clean. And usually still a little bit warm.

Anyway. He wanted to go to a sauna for his birthday, and who am I to refuse a friend his birthday wish? Not sure why he turned to me as the knowledgeable one… It’s not like I go a lot. I’ve been a couple of times, I guess, but not enough to fill up a loyalty card. Not that I have a loyalty card. I don’t even know if they have those. That would probably be a bit weird. What do you get when it’s full? A free bucket of bleach and a scrub down with a wire brush?

Anyway. I think he just wanted someone to hold his… hand. At least to start with. After a while, usually, one’s hands are a little full. Anyway.

So, off we went, paid our entrance fee and took all our clothes off in the changing room, wrapped a ‘complimentary’ towel around our waists (complimentary? It’s part of what you’re paying for, surely? Although I suppose you could take your own if you wanted… Anyway.) and wandered in to get steamy.

This particular sauna was really nicely done out.  More like a swish health club sort of thing with lots of wood on show (heh). Much nicer than the slightly grimy one I’ve been to before. I could imagine sitting there with a smoothie and a facepack on, to be honest. Very different from what you’d normally expect to have in your hand and all over your face in a place like that...

Whatever nerves my mate had had must have disappeared quite quickly. Within 5 minutes of being in the steam room there was a handsome young man giving him what seemed to be some rather impressively good head. Some people might find it awkward to be sitting with a friend while they’re getting gobbled, but I was fine with it, to be honest. In fact, I was having a good look for any tips I could pick up while they were at it.

Anyway. After that little show, we were walking down a corridor towards a different room, and there was an older gentleman coming the other way. Since I was raised with manners, I stood aside and let him past. My parents would be proud. Possibly not in that exact instance, as that might take a lot of explaining, but they’d definitely be proud of my continued politeness in all circumstances.

As he was walking past me, he grabbed my dick. And I mean a proper copping-a-feel, standing still and getting his face right up close to mine kind of a way. I nearly broke his nose. My mate didn’t see all this, as he was in front of me and still enthusiastic to explore different rooms in the place and presumably make even more new friends. So once I’d shoved this guy away, and told him to fuck right off, I joined my mate in the dry room. After we’d arranged our towels artfully to show off the good without actually showing them off - y’know, a bulge here, a bit of skin peeping through just there, that sort of thing, I told him what had happened.

Well, he said we are in a sauna…That sort of thing is expected, innit. As if this made it ok. So I found myself in the rather odd position of being naked, sweaty and angling for hot guys to play with, while simultaneously discussing the finer points of consent.

I know where he’s coming from with that, to be honest. I’ve been there myself. Dingy little gay bars, populated almost exclusively by handsy old men who think a cheeky squeeze on the way past is absolutely fine. To be honest, I’ve done it myself before. Back in the days before I knew better, and would use the “It happened to me so it’s fine if I do it to someone else” defence without wanting to punch myself in the face, I would get drunk and handsy with people. It’s not something I’m proud of now, but at the time I didn’t see a problem with it. Now, when I think of that sort of shit, I cringe and shout at my younger self for being such a dick, but no amount of that will change anything - We can’t go back and stop ourselves doing awful shit - all we can do is try to be a better person today than we were yesterday. So, with that in mind, here’s the quicker version of what I said to my friend in the sauna:

It doesn’t matter where you are, or what you are wearing, no-one gets to touch you without your express permission. I could have been walking through that sauna with the towel hung on my dick like a coathook, and it would STILL be inappropriate for anyone to touch me without my consent. And I can do that, too. I’ve been practising.

Another example was a lovely friend of mine decided to march at Pride wearing nothing but a thong and a rainbow-coloured string vest. And he was a big boy, so he really filled that pouch. It was… lovely to watch. Anyway. Not the point. Afterwards he complained that his day had been ruined because people kept groping him. Without even thinking, I opened my mouth to say “well, you were showing it off a bit…” before I stopped, and thought about it. “If you didn’t want to be assaulted, you shouldn’t have worn such skimpy clothing” cannot ever be an ok response.

For one thing, who gets to decide what’s acceptably demure, and what’s slutty and asking for it? That’s a very slippery slope.

But the bigger issue here is that any response along those lines shifts blame away from the one doing the groping, as if they are somehow entirely unable to control themselves and the one in the skimpy outfit is to blame for somehow inflaming their ardour and tempting them into an uncontrollable fit of gropeyness. Or worse. Any any man who can’t stop himself from touching someone without permission shouldn’t be allowed out in public in the first place. There’s a social contract in there, I think - you don’t touch me without my permission, and I won’t beat the snot out of you. Seems fairly straightforward in my eyes.

Not that permission was too much of a problem for my friend in the sauna - he was giving it up left, right and centre. I was impressed more than anything - that boy can really go for it. I think one of his parents must have been Tigger. And the other one probably very sore. He was having a great time. At least, from the few minutes I got to talk to him while he got his breath back, he seemed to be. But then he’d catch someone else’s eye and be off again. I’m surprised there was any sex left for anyone else to have that night. To be honest, it’s a good job we were at the classier sauna. The grimier one I’d been to before had a room with a sling in it - a hammock-like arrangement that one could lie back in and let the men line up to take their turn. If there’d been one of those in this place, my mate would probably still be in there now. Rather than a card, I should have just bought him shares in Durex.