Let me describe a scene every woman I know is painfully familiar with.
You're in a bar, three drinks in, sidestepping abandoned plastic cups and men who've decided it's a good idea to wear a "casual waistcoat" into the real world, when a guy with brewery breath comes up behind you. If you're lucky, he'll choose not to touch you before saying hello. More likely, though: he'll snake his arm around your waist. If you're really lucky: that man – whose face you haven't even seen yet – will just straight up grind his dick into your back.
At this point you can normally walk away, but sometimes you'll be faced with one of those exceptionally optimistic guys who's actually encouraged by your dismissal. When you're faced with one of these situations, what's the quickest way to shut it down? I spent a night conducting experiments at the club to find out.
It took a while before the right person came along to try this out on; most guys were immediately too close to my body to actually see my full face.
Disappointed, unsurprised and undeterred, I kept waiting for the perfect opportunity. Finally, someone approached me in the smoking area. He started talking, leaning into me, looking straight into my eyes. I looked him dead on, pulled my face back and contorted my neck into as many chins as I could manage.
He looked confused but kept on talking. And talking. And then also talking some more. I didn't change my expression for at least a minute – which is a long time to keep up your best blobfish impression – and he didn't budge.
Eventually, my friend came over and he wandered off. So it kind of worked? In that The Face + the fact I didn't say a single word to him clearly made him realise there was little point in continuing the graft.
Before going out, I asked my boyfriend what used to put him off when he was out trying to pull. "When someone's sick," he said. "I don't want your germy mouth."
Which makes sense. So when a guy came up to me at the bar, I started coughing like my lung was in my throat.
"Are you OK?" He asked. "Do you need any water or anything?"
"I've just been really ill lately," I said.
"Oh, well, probably should've stayed home then." And with that, he was gone.
The guy was nice and asked if I needed anything – so it wasn't an immediate result, but still: it clearly works.
This one was my favourite to actually do: simple, efficient, cathartic and just a good solid laugh.
I was navigating my way to the bar, fairly sweaty and dishevelled at this point, when – without warning or introduction – another man started rubbing himself on me. When I turned to face him, he smiled and leaned towards my ear. I opened my mouth and let out a loud, high-pitched scream.
He frowned, and quite aggressively asked: "What's wrong with you, love? What's your problem?" To which I continued screaming. It didn't take long before he gave up.
THE PERSONAL QUESTIONS
When I ran this one past my boyfriend he said the guys would just lie. But surely when faced with questions about family history, five-year plans and how many children they want, men would simply run away, as they do in every sit-com ever?
They didn't. Whether they were lying or not, this one was the least effective and actually led to some really interesting conversations.
"My mum has to see you with me, you know," one guy said. "Once she sees your love for me, she'll love you too."
When I asked about children, another man said, "As many as God will give me."
Rating: 2/10 for the method, but the conversations were tens across the board.
Shockingly, this worked – but I think I was lucky enough to have a very respectful guy approach me. It all started very friendly, with him asking me my name and where I was from.
"I'm Nicole, from Guatemala," I said
"Oh, sick! Can you tell me about the culture?" At this point, he took the invitation I'd just given him – saying my name out loud – to come very close to my face.
"I have a boyfriend," I said.
"Oh. I guess I'll look it up on Wikipedia then." And away he went.
I've made light of this situation, clearly, but the point stands that, in 2019, women still can't enjoy a night out without unsolicited, non-consensual groping, grinding and touching.
This whole experience speaks volumes about consent in clubs: it's seemingly dismissed, shoved under the carpet as if the rules are different as soon as you've paid the £5 door charge and been temporarily blinded by a laser. As if it needs to be said again: men of the world, if a woman does not respond positively to your advances, here's a hot tip: leave them alone.