shit i hadn’t thought about that. it makes sense with what happens in the next dialogue, too. i could absolutely interpret it the way you do, it just fits so well with the smooth-talking, sexually dominant hostility.
also, this is my internal monologue upon reading your post:
fuck i said ‘hands’ plural in my takedown fuck why didn’t i catch that i made an error fuckk
where was his other hand then
Oh god I just remembered that there was this really skeevy dude who used to come up behind me and start rubbing the back of my neck at college. He was always like “aww I’m just being friendly see it’s just a shoulder rub you looked really tense” but it was definitely a power play. The neck is a really vulnerable and intimate place to be touched, and I’ve got creeped out goosebumps just thinking about it.
at least we know he can go on to be president:
the chancellor of germany was having none of GWB’s shit
coming up behind someone and touching them without permission is definitely a power play. especially the kind that involves them looming over you and/or limiting your range of motion.
i once had a coworker who would stand behind me while i was working, put one or both hands on my desk so he was leaning over me, and give me ‘helpful critiques’ on my work. i tried telling him verbally to stop. i tried ‘accidentally’ elbowing him in the ribs or shoving my chair back into him. finally, i told my boss, “if you don’t stop him doing this, shit will get real.” the boss told the guy to stop; the guy gave the ‘just being friendly’ defense, and the boss bought it.
so the next time dude did it, i got up, grabbed him by the shirt, and punched him square in the face. he crashed into some shelves next to the boss’s door. boss came out to see what the noise was; i said, “i told you this would happen.” boss went back in his office and shut the door.
i heard later, though i’m not sure this is true, that powerplay dude complained to the boss about me not getting in trouble for punching him, and the boss said, “but jesse was just being friendly.” whenever i think about it, i hear the dragon from mulan going “that’s how men say hello!” and bust out giggling. :D
what i’m getting at is, men do this to each other as a powerplay, as well as to women; it’s an attempt to dominate someone and force them into a subordinate position. it’s not necessarily sexual — unless this dude (who was also one of those obnoxious evangelicals who brings religious tracts to work) was hitting on me in front of seebs, who also worked there, he wasn’t trying to get in my pants. he was just threatened by my presence and trying to put me in my place. how dare a queermo junior programmer get in good with the boss? it can’t be because jesse works hard and shows up on time and doesn’t complain about having to do data entry or answer phones sometimes — it must be because he’s getting above himself (because everything is about status to these people) and has to be shown who’s the dominant ape in this tribe!
even if you are not a naturally submissive or conflict-avoidant person (and 99% of the time i am the biggest swaggering fight-picking asshole in any room i walk into) some jackasses will not only still try it on, they will push it to the point where you have to violate social norms to make them stop.
my advice is, do it. violate the social norms. i mean, start by firmly telling them to step the fuck off, but if they’re one of the ones who keep pushing it, cross that line. it’s honestly easier to cover your ass with authority figures, or even deal with being fired from your job or suspended from school, than to unpack the emotional damage from their abuse years later.
Here’s a great sentence to say loudly and clearly when someone tries “I was just being friendly!” as an excuse to touch you, mock you, push your boundaries, or get you gifts so you’ll owe them:
"If you were my friend you’d care about what I wanted. I want you to stop that."
It works because no one can pull the ‘jeeeez she’s so touchy!’ maneuver after being put on notice about friendship manners without making it very clear that they’re not actually being friendly. The only face-saving maneuver from there is a quick retreat. It’s great.
or there’s also the scorched earth approach: “we are NOT friends, and this grabby bullshit is why.”
i once dumped a friend over his refusal to stop touching. there were a lot of other factors — he was an alcoholic who acted like a jackass when he was drunk, for instance — but the final straw was how he kept putting his arm around me, and when i’d tell him to knock it off, he’d be like “but it’s ok because we’re old friends” and “you’ll forgive me because we’ve been friends since high school” and so forth. finally i was like, “dude, you know what? you have now ruined those happy memories by using them to justify draping your drunk ass all over me after i told you so many times to respect my personal bubble, and because of this, we are done.”
i miss him sometimes, but i don’t regret enforcing my boundaries. i don’t blame him for his addiction — for some people, alcoholism is a really hard burden to shake — but i do blame him for how he behaved while under the influence. my life is better off without someone who makes excuses for ignoring my ‘no’.