Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

Dear boys in clubs...

Image of friend holding drinks and talking in a club setting.
Sunday 7th November 15.31

CW: harassment, gender-based violence, rape

Clubs can be a scary place as a woman. Since the 9th of August, when clubs all over Scotland reopened, they’ve been louder, sweatier and packed to the brim with deprived students and teenagers. Given that partying and nightclubs are not viewed as an essential part of life, we do not prioritise making these venues safe; perhaps even more concerning is the societal prejudices that frame women in clubs as somehow ‘inviting’ unwanted harassment.  On a night out, everyone is looking to have a good time but I can’t count the number of aggressive interactions me or my friends have experienced clubbing, leaving us uncomfortable or desperate to leave. It often feels like men are entitled to enter our space and lash out against us when we challenge this. More often than not, men are the ones who dominate the dance-floor with little consideration to who they are pushing out the way as their height and stature give them a natural advantage.

I’m aware that girls aren’t perfect and sometimes we don’t know when to stop either. But does this give you the right to push us back? Clubbing can often feel like a territory war as everyone is fighting for space in a venue that is packed to the max. Clubs are notoriously associated with sexual assault and trauma, and I’m sure if you’re old enough to enter, you’re aware of the gendered charge of interactions in this space. 

 Maybe I’m that girl you stumbled past, accidently pushed, or pissed off at the bar and for too long, I’ve given men the benefit of the doubt. I said nothing when you spilled my drink, threw a glass across the dance floor or put your hand up my skirt. I even remained silent when a guy crashed into me in Subway, causing a VK bottle to chip my tooth and split my lip. I tell myself that being drunk excuses your behaviour and you didn’t purposefully intend to upset me. You were just exhibiting the norms of male entitlement and didn’t know any better, right?

 From now on, I’m going to hold everyone to a higher standard. The club is not the time or place to educate yourself and I’m not going to spend my time explaining the nuances of rape culture or the gender dynamic. It’s not easy in a nightclub, but be mindful of everyone’s space and when a 5ft girl is elbowing you in the back, take a minute to consider that maybe she feels intimidated? Threatened? Defensive?

The fun and recreation of a club should not be at the expense of comfort and security. Of course, it is not only night clubs where women feel at risk but if this facet of society – where violence towards women has become so normalised – can begin to change, society at large can begin to heal. Violence against women is not just a women’s issue and I urge everyone to inform themselves on the current situation. 

Image: Michael Discenza via Unsplash