It’s new years eve party at brut, and the alcohol is flowing in the veins of most, who probably see themselves as feminists. The burlesque show from Club Grotesque Fatal & Duckie before got everyone in the mood. It’s hot, crowded and very loud. Well, my darlings, feminism is not just a concept, you should practice it too. Let’s talk (once again) about consent – this time, consent at queer parties.
Up until now, all of my shitty experiences with harassment or assault at parties happened with men, in the days where I would still go to heterosexual parties. Maybe I was naive, maybe I didn’t experience it at this rate, so I didn’t see a pattern, but the first hours of year 2015 opened my eyes: (feminist) lesbians and queers harass, too – mind blowing!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who had bad things happen to her. After talking to friends about that night, it became clear that there were more cases of harassment, not only that night, but at similar other parties in the past. It’s like the feminist twilight zone – is this really happening?! Yes! WTF?!
So here is what happened to me (this is just one night): I was kissed surprisingly, without being asked or warned, by not only one, but by two people I know (whom I had never kissed and with whom I had not had any kind of physical contact before). The first one grabbed my butt later on. The second one told me afterwards: “you know, you think, I’m hot…“. Blurred lines, does that ring a bell? She also commented in a very macho-like way on my dancing with another friend, telling us how hot we looked together. At one point I was surrounded, with my back to a wall, by four people who all looked at me very sexually and tried to dance with me.
I was also massively harassed by a person with whom I work together. She tried, again and again and again throughout the night, to dance with me (touching me). She turned me around while I was clearly dancing with another person and grabbed me. My attempts to tell her that I am dancing with another person did not help. I was too nice to tell her to go fuck herself, and it really took me a while to understand that she doesn’t have herself under control, and that I am being harassed by a (feminist lesbian) person I know. My voice didn’t matter.
As my best friend stood by me and told her, she should leave me alone, she finally took a step back, only to try again a bit later, once again, to grab me from behind the back of my friend. My friend pushed her hand away. She responded: „What? I have the same right as you have“.
Here is a message to all of you lady* lovers and queers in Vienna city: It’s not your right! You are not entitled to ANYTHING without consent. Unless you are my best friend and know me well, don’t assume anything.
Afterwards, she spend the rest of the night sitting next to all of us dancing people and starring at me with a mean look on her face. That was the point where I had had enough, and so I went home. This is not a party. It’s a battlefield. You would think, that lesbians, feminists, queers of all kinds already knew how the concept of consent works and how important it is to pay attention to the boundaries of each other.
Here are a few guidelines, that might help you for the next party (to which I will come very well prepared to protect myself):
- If I kiss someone (or more than one!), it doesn’t mean, that I’m an open kissing boot where you don’t even have to ask. Just grabbing and kissing me is not consent. It is overwhelming if you are not prepared to defend yourself at every moment. It is overwhelming when you know the person somehow. Do not assume, ask!
- Dancing sexually is not an invitation to touch me. Taking my clothes off is not an invitation to touch me. Also, two femmes (just an example from that night, could be anyone else) dancing together are not a show. It´s two people dancing, so stop telling us how hot we look together. We do not want to be objectified! We are not here for you, just as we are not here for men.
- If I kiss you on the dance floor, don´t think you can touch me all over, almost fucking me on the dance floor.
- If I had sex with you in the past, you don’t get a free pass. Don’t assume you can „get“ with me at any time and/or anything.
- Being an asshole is not feminist.
Just think about everything you hate about how men (as a social group) act at parties and how they treat women*. Don’t do the same. It’s that easy. Just because you have a pussy and/or a queer identity, that doesn’t mean you can treat other queer people like objects. And no, I won’t take it as a compliment. It’s humiliating being treated like a store good. Especially at a party that is supposed to be a safer space. Don’t forget the statistics! Almost all of us (if not everyone) got assaulted or harassed somehow. Duplicating the same experiences can and will trigger!
As a wise friend wrote me after telling her what happened: „consent is not just respecting a no, but also giving someone/getting the chance to say yes“. Amen to that!
There is enough to read online about the concept of consent. Educate yourself, and start thinking before you do something. And if you can´t control yourself while drinking – stop drinking!
For all of you out there, that have gone through similar scenarios: Don´t be silent. Everyone needs to know that this will not be accepted any longer. Please post in the comments section if something happened to you too that same night, or at any other queer party!