From here (and there’s more goodness)
“A few years earlier, back at Indiana, I was wearing [a favourite outfit], walking through the parking lot of the main campus library with a group of—classmates, I think it was. Yes, we were coming from a research-methods-and-resources session. Anyway, I was talking with another young woman about Irish monastic penitentials or something like that when a couple of guys in a big ol’ car started the wolf-whistle-leer-and-comment-suggestively bit, with particular reference to my breasts.
“There it was—the sickening grunch as I landed involuntarily back in my body—and not my entire body, either, but specific parts of it. The conversation was ruined. I felt uncomfortable for being targeted. My conversation partner felt uncomfortable on my behalf, and I think a little devalued as well; being targeted is no fun, but being ignored is no fun too, in its way. Sensing that devaluation, I said something about how it was only because of my clothes; if I had dressed the way my conversation partner had (sweatshirt and jeans), I would have passed unnoticed.”
The awesomely-cool Geek Feminist Wiki has it as
The term grunch means the sensation a woman has when she was for a time free of conscious awareness of the male gaze and did not feel othered, but is then reminded in some way that she is a woman first and a geek (or colleague, or writer, etc) a distant second. That is, being grunched is the sensation of being firmly and unexpectedly othered.
The word is onomatopoeic, because being grunched includes an unpleasant physical sensation like that of crashing into your own body.
“Grunch” (and the verb “grunched”) appear to have been coined by Dorothea Salo in 2002, who also used “grunchy” as an adjective for discussions about sexism.
A woman can feel a grunch happening when she walks into a glass door.
So, what is to be done? Erm, don’t comment on people’s looks unless you’re making a pass? Call out grunching when it happens? Apologise if/when you do it yerself? Um… Dunno. What think you “all”?