Things I Think About When Carrying a Woman Out of the Club
Not so very long ago, I was in a local club celebrating a friend’s birthday. I rode to the club with another friend and his female cousin (whom we shall call Tiffany in order to protect the innocent). At the end of the night, the bouncers went about pushing us out of the club and it quickly became apparent that Tiffany would not be leaving entirely under her own power. She had drank more than any of us had realized and was now too far gone to be counted on to do too much of anything under her own power other than sleep (as I confirmed when she threw up on me and when she was later unable to recall any of this story). Her cousin left to pick up the car so the task of seeing her to the car fell to me and I pretty much had to carry her in order to accomplish this.
The process was a slow one as we had to go from the third floor of the club to around the block and I began to feel somewhat self-conscious as I carried and encouraged this woman who was just barely conscious. I must’ve looked as questionable as I felt because I received a number of comments along my trek. Interestingly, they all came from men and they all made note of the fact that I had a semi-conscious woman draped across my shoulder. I would guess that they were all meant to be jokes given the tone in which they were delivered but they all referenced an assumption that I was dragging off this woman in order to have sex with her.
These jokes stuck with me long after Tiffany was safely delivered to her cousin’s house for the night and I went to sleep with some questions in my head:
- Did I look as suspect as I had felt? Did my actions set off alarm in others around me or did the whole event just blend into the normal tapestry of what goes down in social settings on Friday nights.
- Out of those that noticed and presumed that some form of sexual activity was to follow (as some clearly did), how many of them had an inclination to intervene on some level and how many of them couldn’t care less what was about to happen?
- Out of those who experienced some discomfort, how many of them held their tongues because they were unsure if it was their place to interrupt the private affairs of strangers? How many of them wanted to check in and ensure that I had Tiffany’s best interests in mind, but were afraid of being labeled a “cock blocker” or any other name that we apply to those who meddle in the sexual affairs of others.
I do not know the answer to any of these questions but I do know that we are entirely unpracticed in the art of interrupting potential sexual violence against women. One might say that the lack of a response was caused because bystanders had no real way of knowing that something bad was going to occur if they allowed me to walk away. However, when do we ever have perfect information that a negative outcome is about to occur? Not to mention that there are many other scenarios where bystanders have become accustomed to intervening because of the mere potential of a negative outcome. For example, it is not uncommon to observe people intervene when somebody is about to drive drunk, even when the person who is about to drive is a complete stranger. Most of us have had some conversation with others in our lives about how to check in with somebody who may be too impaired to drive responsibly and this has become a fairly normative cultural practice whereas it was once highly controversial. I doubt that very many of us have had conversations about how to check in with a person who may soon be party to a rape.
It occurs to me that some of those jokes directed my way in the club may not have been delivered by men who wanted to callously make light of a presumed rape, but rather may have come from men who were executing the only socially acceptable intervention that they could come up with in that moment. After all, the jokes did serve notice that others were aware that I was escorting a party that was unfit to consent to sex. These jokes are a start I suppose but I think that we could all stand to practice a little more.