Once upon a time, at a social gathering, there was a guy who wouldn’t stop touching me.
The first time, he put a comradely hand on my shoulder. I brushed it off, smiled politely, and said, “No touches I don’t initiate, thanks.”
“Oh, sure, sorry.”
Shortly after, he clapped me on the back. Very spur-of-the-moment, could’ve been a mistake. A polite reminder, another apology, and things moved along.
Ten minutes later, his hand on my shoulder again. I grabbed his fingers and lifted his hand off me, gave him a death stare, and said, “I’ve told you repeatedly not to touch me. Why are you ignoring me?”
“Sorry, sorry, I forgot.”
“Maybe you should move over, since you’re having trouble keeping your hands to yourself.” That bit said in a lighter tone, with a smile, but still holding the stare. That stare is valuable, because it lets you communicate to them that you are dead fucking serious even as you continue to keep up performed politeness that makes it easy to slip back into good-natured interactions if it all was just a mistake and they prove they’re well-intentioned after all by, say, agreeing to take measures to stop creeping you out.
Which this dude didn’t.
“Nah, it was just a slip-up. I’ll be good.”
“I know you don’t mean to, but since you keep doing it and it’s kinda starting to weird me out, I’d be much happier if you moved.”
“C’mon, why make it such a big deal?”
It was starting to get drawn-out at this point and catch people’s attention. Normally, that’s when it gets harder to stick to your guns because Why Is She Being Such A Bitch? But it’s often perfect for:
“I thought you were sorry for repeatedly touching me against my will. Why is it so important for you to be able to completely ignore my boundaries and do something you know makes me really uncomfortable?”
Spell it out, make it ugly, leave it open-ended (yes-or-no questions make it too easy for them to get away with a knee-jerk, “No!” response), and then look at them expectantly because you, in complete seriousness, do indeed expect an answer to your question.
It’s not perfect, of course. Like any confrontational method of dealing with creepery (insidious, as in this example, or otherwise), there’s a risk of escalation because HOW DARE YOU DENY ME YOU WHORE, but I’ve found it excellent for getting the meeker ones to slink away with their tail between their legs. And if you succeeded back at, “make it ugly,” it works pretty well in a lot of group social situations because you’ve been so kind as to spell out exactly what the creep is doing in a way that makes it sound much less in keeping with the social contract. Turn that shit on its head and use it against creepy fuckers for a change.