The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Minority Report: I am more than a butt: why I hate grinding

I hate grinding. But this is not because I am opposed to the expression of sexuality, public displays of affection or enjoyment. Dancing is fine. Making out is fine. Having sex is fine (though I would prefer if it stayed out of Harris for public health and safety purposes). Grinding, however, is inherently problematic.

Before you burn me at the stake of sex-positivity, allow me to explain: the form of grinding allows for one person’s control over and use of another person. The typical “grinding position” involves one person, who is receiving pleasure (who we will call the grindee), behind another person, who is giving pleasure (who we will call the grinder). Typically, the grindee is a guy and the grinder is a girl. In such a situation, grinding becomes an instrument of male domination and misogyny. “But wait!” you cry indignantly. “It can’t be misogynistic if the girl is enjoying it!” I respond with my patented “oh please” look and proceed to respectfully remind you that we as a student body engage do, in fact, engage in activities that are “enjoyable” but not socially responsible—like grinding.

Because the grindee exercises control over the grinder, often wrapping hir arms around the grinder to direct hir movements, the grinder becomes an instrument of the grindee’s pleasure. Since the grindee is usually a girl, working to please the often-male grinder, grinding is androcentric (male-focused). This structure also provides for the objectification and sexualization of women: dancing with a girl does not involve appreciating her as a human being, but using her body for pleasure. The typical grinding scenario also reinforces the stereotype of men as dominant and women as submissive, which is by extension an affirmation of inaccurate gender roles. This isn’t about who’s enjoying what, it’s about a convoluted power dynamic in which one person is using the other, whether or not that is apparent or even conscious. This power issue also applies to situations in which the grinder and grindee are both guys or both girls (or any combination of gender identities, for that matter). While I recognize that grinding is by no means standardized, I maintain that the average grinding interaction is misogynistic in nature.

Okay, so you didn’t agree with my first argument? I understand. But maybe you’ll agree with this one: grinding poses a consent problem. It’s very easy to initiate without consent because one person can approach another from behind and begin grinding without the other person’s agreement or even—at first—realization. Once a guy attempted to start grinding with me without the intention to ask for my permission, and another touched me before he asked. Neither of these things is acceptable. The true fault in such situations lies with the individual, but the concept of grinding is not completely innocent: consent should be obtained without exception, and situations that make it incredibly easy for people to take any type of sexual action without consent should be reevaluated. Everyone should be able to dance freely, no matter where, without worrying about being grabbed from behind.

“Excuse me,” you say rather impolitely. “Most of the grinding that happens here is consensual.” I agree with you completely, my dear friend. But that doesn’t make the issue of dubious consent unimportant, nor does it refute my final point: although grinding is probably the primary way people show interest in each other at parties, it is a rather impersonal interaction that is a poor basis for any sort of relationship. The position of grinding is not at all conducive to making conversation, and it doesn’t even allow the two people involved to look each other in the eyes—in fact, people can grind for hours without even exchanging names. Awkward, non-communicative grinding situations are both a symptom and a cause of relational problems that reach far beyond Harris. Grinding is arguably less social than ordering a burger at McDonald’s, and it’s ultimately a cop-out. Why can’t people get to know each other face-to-face instead of genitals-to-butt? Is that too… intimate?

Think about grinding. I’m not asking you to agree with me; I’m simply asking you to think. And if you realize that you share my opinion, join me. I’ll be the one dancing like crazy with only myself to please.

-Isabel Cooke ’16

View Comments (12)
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (12)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • T

    This is ridiculousMar 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    You’ve clearly have not gotten out much. This whole post is bull.

    If grinding to you is one person dominating the dance, it’s either because you’re letting it happen or you’re doing it wrong. I’m a girl, and I’ve noticed that girls are usually the ones that lead and show off while the guy follows. And if a guy wants to lead, as long as the girl is okay with it, so what?

    Second, if a guy grinds on you without consent and you don’t like it, walk away. Maybe even shoot him a glare. How hard is that? If he’s trapping you, make a scene. You can’t avoid this from happening no matter how hard you shake your fist, so just deal with it and walk away.

    And there IS a thing such as front grinding. And you can grind in different ways are add other styles of dance to spice it up.

    Conclusion: you don’t know what you’re talking about. Get out more.

  • F

    FemaleFeb 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    100% Agree with the idea behind this essay/post. Guys- grinding is not optional to girls when society teaches them to constantly be nice, and they desire acceptance. A lot of girls including me hate it, but when a guy grabs us from behind, it’s very hard to walk away, and we don’t even know what they look like. I’m not blaming guys because how should they know which girls want to grind? But non the less I hate the dance itself, it lacks creativity and how is a guy supposed to prevent a boner?

  • F

    Female GrinnellianFeb 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Oh and I’m speaking to the original author of the article.

  • F

    Female GrinnellianFeb 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Please stop misusing vocab you learned from your intro classes.

  • J

    Jacob WashingtonFeb 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Lastly why is this called the minority report?

  • J

    Jacob WashingtonFeb 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    First of all there are two premises of importance when talking about this topic.
    First of all the cultural manner of grinding is not one derived from the person who enjoys elite luxury nor is necessarily supported or ignited. Grinding is a common expression or form used by many african-american, latino american, central american, southern americans, those of Caribbean descent and the list goes on. If you noticed the trend of people you may realize that many traits, cultural apparatuses, and iconic symbols & cues can’t be drawn from the student body which is Grinnell. The parties who engage in grinding as a commonality in SOCIAL society represent lower classes of people, and large communities of it. The issues you have can come from your own values but I do believe you are not aware of what cultural importance you may slandering (for lack of better word).

    Secondly, Unless you made up the grinder/grindee model then I am sorry to inform you, but that’s not a conversation you can assume people have or care to have. I say this because the very reason we dance strays away from varying issues we face. Why do we dance. Many people would ideally like to say “to have fun!” right? Well whatever you think of the answer you can’t take a dance style which puts people in a role and say that it wands control over another. I can use your argument for many styles of dance. Even Winter and Spring waltz reveal roles of dancers which in my case was the one being control. “As I learned I found vulnerable naive souls to pray on and take control of them as we …..Waltz.” See what I did there? Im not that confident that people conceive those types of thoughts, at least in the Grinnell Community.

    I don’t say this to put my words against yours or any one else’s but Grinnellians did not create grinding. A large community of people internationally have created, engaged in it, even transformed it (the more north americanized cousin “Twerk”) and it’s enjoyed socially and furthermore accepted.

    Lastly, as a male from a male dominated high school but raised by large women conglomerates I honestly have to disagree with any notion that no appreciation is formed from the female body during grinding. When a woman uses her body to style any move of dancing naturally anyone looks for their personal identifiers of what to appreciate be it her curves, eyes, smile, legs, or even her rear. Thats hormonal and something that I doubt could be erased.

  • H

    HarrisFeb 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    First of all…screw the patriarchy. I mean it. But too many of the women on campus fail to consider the male perspective when it comes to duscussions about consent and of a sexual nature in general. You should definitely not grind if you don’t want to, but the premise by which you justify it as misogynistic is weak. I’m pretty sure the grinders on campus feel as though they have to work to please the grindees. While I wouldn’t know, it would be more than unfair to rule it out. Also, relational “problems” shouldn’t be any of your business. Unless it’s your relationship. But oh wait, you don’t even grind, you’ll be fine.

  • O

    Oh, PleaseFeb 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    First of all, I think it is wrong to assume that grinding is only a guy standing behind and controlling a girl. Couples in a sexual relationship oftentimes have one person that assumes a dominant role and another that assumes a submissive role. Although the societal standard is that the guy is dominant, I find that Grinnellians at Harris frequently break this stereotype. In fact, if the girl and guy switch positions while grinding then aren’t they breaking gender norms? So grinding itself doesn’t reinforce gender stereotypes, instead it is the people who engage in the act that are reinforcing or breaking gender stereotypes.

    Secondly, I would claim that walking into the middle of a Harris dance is basically consenting that you will get rubbed on. If it makes you uncomfortable, then don’t go into the middle of the dance floor in the first place. Nobody should mount another person from behind without consent and start grinding, and people should be aware that it is inappropriate, yet I personally think that these cases are rare. Harris is a dance party. If you don’t want to engage in that behavior then don’t go.

    I do agree that conversational parties are better, but if you want to change the Grinnell nightlife then start planning some alternative events at Grinnell. If you don’t like grinding, then don’t go to Harris. There are plenty of people who enjoy Harris and grinding, and there are also people who have conversations in or outside the door of Harris. So basically, if you don’t consent to grinding, don’t go in the middle of Harris.

  • T

    Tooth to PowerFeb 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

    The consent issue is legitimate, but…”Typically, the grindee is a guy and the grinder is a girl. In such a situation, grinding becomes an instrument of male domination and misogyny.” lol

  • A

    AnonFeb 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I’m a guy. I only grind when the girl herself puts her back towards me and moves back until her body touches mine. Is this acceptable?

  • L

    Lil B "The BasedGod"Feb 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    First, I understand what you are saying. I agree with some parts and not with others. I can understand and agree with your argument that it is a misogynistic act, with men asserting dominance over women (in the typical case, does not apply with two men, two women, etc.).

    Even with the consent part, I understand and agree. However, your example is where my problem lies. “Once a guy… touched me before he asked”. So he attempted to get your attention before asking to dance with you? If you’re saying he started grinding, realized you were uncomfortable, then asked, I agree with you. This leads to my problem with the entire consent conversation at Grinnell. I’ve gotten the impression from this, other articles posted about consent, and forums that any and every interaction initiated by a male can be turned into a consent problem if the female chooses to.

    Lastly, “The position of grinding is not at all conducive to making conversation”. There’s not much talking going on during any form of dancing. With the volume of the music and other factors. My final point is that this article is pointless and I just wasted time responding

  • L

    Lil B "The BasedGod"Feb 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    This is hilarious