Adam Sandler kept touching Claire Foy’s leg.

Why Adam Sandler’s “Friendly” Touching of Claire Foy’s Knee Is So Very Uncomfortable

Why Adam Sandler’s “Friendly” Touching of Claire Foy’s Knee Is So Very Uncomfortable

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 30 2017 2:32 PM

Why Adam Sandler’s “Friendly” Touching of Claire Foy’s Knee Is So Very Uncomfortable

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Adam Sandler’s uncomfortable touching of British actress Claire Foy’s knee on the Graham Norton Show has become the No. 1 trending video on YouTube today.

In the clip, Sandler, telling an anecdote about bringing his parents to the Golden Globes, places his hand on Foy’s knee on the couch beside him. Foy awkwardly brushes Sandler’s hand away to his own knee, which she pats to indicate that is where it should stay. Sandler then jokingly places his hand back on her leg while she squirms, her expression a mixture of exasperation and discomfort, as she politely tries to figure out how to make it clearer that his behavior is inappropriate without making things weird. Emma Thompson, sitting on Sandler's other side, offers some of the best side-eye in recent memory (“Be the Emma Thompson you wish to see in the world,” tweeted Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson).

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Twitter users were quick to jump on Sandler, pointing out his painful lack of awareness and Foy’s excellent handling of the situation.

Foy’s representative has since released a statement saying she was not offended by his actions, while Sandler’s publicist told the Huffington Post that it was nothing more than a “friendly gesture,” comparing it to his touching of Dustin Hoffman’s knee on the Tonight Show.

Sandler’s leg touching is not on the level of the Weinstein or Toback allegations, as much as Fox News, with its newfound mantle of defending from famous men who are not Donald Trump or Bill O’Reilly, might like it to be. But it’s just another example of the way in which men feel they have the right to touch women’s bodies—their knees, their shoulders, their pussies—not just without their consent, but with their express disconsent. Underlying Sandler’s behavior is a deeply held assumption that men have the right to touch women, even those they hardly know, and that it’s funny to do so when they dissent. It’s important not to equate Sandler with Weinstein, and it’s doubtful Sandler’s actions would have recieved this kind of weekend-long backlash if it weren’t for the current mood in the entertainment industry. But this only makes it more ridiculous that he brazenly did it anyway, managing to be simultaneously unaware of Foy’s discomfort and the obvious backlash such casual sexism was going to create. Sandler may not be a sexual predator, but the actor is part of an antiquated culture that thinks this kind of behavior is a laughing matter.