No, you can't rub my belly

It sounded to me like the voice on the line cracked a little as she said “I’ve actually been feeling a bit upset about it since yesterday”... “But I felt like I was being groped” and the radio hosts dissolved into hysterical laughter.

If you’ve been pregnant, you’ve been there, someone invites themselves to rub your pregnant belly. They might even be (are too often) a complete stranger. But for some reason the beautiful and incredible life-giving shape of your body makes them feel they have license to completely violate your personal space.

Yesterday I was listening to a trashy radio station on the way to pick up my partner from work and on Will and Woody (KIIS 106.5) and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I listened as a woman confronted a man she didn’t know for touching her in a way she didn’t feel comfortable. It went like this.

Radio Host: I’m at the point now where I feel it’s a little selfish for a pregnant woman doesn’t let me have a rub of the beautiful orb of life that is a pregnant belly

Caller: Well actually I am one of the women that was at the baby shower yesterday

Radio Host: Oh ok didn’t expect that. Candice, what are your thoughts?

Caller: Yeh um to be honest I’ve actually been a bit upset about it since yesterday

Radio Host: Oh no really? Oh no Candice I’m so sorry.

Caller: I mean I’m 38 weeks pregnant and you took me off guard, you came up from behind and grabbed my belly

Radio Host: Yeh no that’s fair

Other host laughs

Caller: I just don’t… and I don’t even know you

Radio Host: I did come from behind. But from my memory I did say ‘Do you mind if I touch your belly?’ Did I ask or did I forget?

Caller: Well yeh, but it kind of felt like I was being groped I mean you came from behind…

Hosts both laugh uncontrollably

Radio Host: Well Candice it is harder to grab a, ahhh… all I can say is sorry Candice.

More hysterical laughter

He apologised. He also laughed hysterically and then offered her some McCafe vouchers.

Don’t get me wrong, pregnant bellies are super freaking awesome and I have rubbed a fair few and had mine loved by many a friend and family member. But if you are a random stranger, if you are even a not so close friend, if you didn’t ask then - No. You can’t rub my belly.

Maybe it was all just a publicity stunt by a radio channel that thrives on controversy and offending people. Maybe I’m being over sensitive? But whether or not she’s a real woman she represents all women, and is this how we respond when women say “The way you touched me wasn’t ok” ? I’m sure the co-host is a totally nice guy who is genuinely mortified, and it’s clear his intention wasn’t to make her feel uncomfortable, but he just reinforced to a generation of young men and women that it is funny when a woman speaks out about feeling her boundaries were crossed.

The way our society talks about this defines the way our society thinks about it. And I’m saying this: It’s not funny.

So Candice if you’re out there - good on you for calling and saying ‘No, that's not ok’ and let me respond how those show hosts should have. Woah. Stop everything. This isn’t funny. I am sorry that you feel this way, especially in these the most tender and vulnerable and anxiety-ridden weeks for you to have felt violated in that way. And for your wondrous life-giving body to have been held in anything less than the upmost respect.

So keep your McCafe vouchers, I’ll take some respect instead.