I first started speaking on sexual violence prevention as a peer educator in college. At that time, it was not uncommon for my friends to note my presence at parties with some surprise that I would be in attendance. I’m sure much of this has to do with the fact that I was a super lame party-goer, but I also believe that some detected an inconsistency between my anti-violence claims and my attendance at parties. The reasons for this are not readily apparent but you can find them if you take a step back and see the culture of contemporary entertainment settings for what they are. An objective observer might view the heterosexual party scene and note that men typically choose a partner by simply grabbing a hold of her waist or some other body part. He might notice that women who resist male advances are often slandered for their efforts. He might notice that much of this action takes place under the blaring sound of hip hop anthems that champion male access to female bodies. I can see why some might see attending a party as antithetical to a stance of anti-violence even if they cannot quite put their finger on why this is.
This all begs the question of what is a well-meaning man to do in environments where aggressive advances are expected. I still like to attend lounges and clubs occasionally but respectful etiquette for pursuing women in these settings can be challenging as my college peers raised long ago. After all, the volume of the music in these settings all but rules out extensive verbal communication much of the time. Even when there is the opportunity to talk, the guy that spends a lot of time talking and trying to explain his intentions probably just comes off as a creep. Many would just see this uncommon move as awkward.
There is certainly space to approach women in an appealing and respectful manner; but I’m just saying that this might take a little thought for those of us who are not always perfectly capable ladies men who always have the proper words and demeanor at their disposal. So, once again, I am sitting here over-analyzing something that most people don’t ever think twice about. The pursuit of partners in entertainment spots is supposed to be free and natural – not something one spends time thinking about critically. I guess that I’ve just seen too many of the consequences when we give men the green light to divorce their pursuit of women from thought and empathy.