- Vancouver, British Columbia - Personally, I've never been entirely fond of going out to clubs. Whenever one of my friends would tell me that they were going out for a birthday party and that I should come, I'd find myself desperately hoping that I'd have a scheduling conflict that night. That, or be able to think of an excuse to get out of going, something akin to having to wash my front lawn, since the dirt was getting a bit much amongst the blades of grass. Admittedly, a part of it is that I don't enjoy dressing up when it feels like a competition of some sorts where I'll be judged mercilessly, regardless of the fact that I've never attempted to pick up a woman at a club. Weddings are way more fun to get dressed up for, plus the attention is never really on you to put on a show. Clubs, however, are something entirely different, and a large part of it likely has to do with the fact that it is essentially where human mating ritual seems to be most commonly observed in all of its unpleasant crassness.
The other day at work, I had just served two male customers together, one older, the other younger, who had taken a seat at the bar with their cold drinks. A moment later, a young female customer came into my store, wearing a low-cut top and as she approached the bar, I noticed how it appeared as though she attempted to hike her breasts up as she crossed her arms underneath them as she asked for a glass of ice water. Considering the water is free, I didn't spend much time dwelling on it as she made small talk with me, but as soon as she left, the two male customers had a brief conversation which was little more than, "Holy fuck, she is so fucking hot," said the younger male. The older male replied, "she is sitting outside. You want us to go take the table next to her?" The younger male, with a wingman by his side, agreed and they marched out of the store like a puppy chasing after a new bone. Don't get me wrong, I think human sexuality can be among the beautiful things about us, but when I see the previous unfolding, it makes it feel cheap and crass.
Yet in the clubs that I've been dragged to with my friends, what I see isn't much better than the previous encounter, in fact, many times it is far worse. I realize that my opinion deviates from that of many other people, but among the vilest dances that I can see is watching two dance partners grinding up against each other. What is even more disturbing, however, is watching a male attempt to grind up against an unsuspecting female, who clearly disapproves of his advances, yet the male rebuffs her rebuke and continues to grind up against her, consoling himself with some outdated notion that she is just playing hard to get and is testing him. Wow, long sentence.
If the truth be told, there are few places that I believe re-enforce the rape culture of today's society. If a woman finds herself sexually assaulted or raped by a male when she is wearing revealing clothing or is scantily-clad, many individuals in society would place the blame on the woman for leaving her house in such an outfit, thinking she should've known better, but they fail to acknowledge the personal responsibility born by the male who supposedly couldn't control himself or hear her say no. In clubs, most women spend a considerable amount of time getting dressed up to go out on the town, and while some are looking to meet someone, many are simply wanting to go out for drinks or maybe go dancing with their girlfriends. In the same way, some guys go to the club for drinks with their male friends and perhaps the possibility of meeting someone. There are, however, men and women who go almost exclusively to clubs to pick someone up, whether that is just for a fling or something more serious remains debatable. For those who aren't, they remain susceptible to being approached by these lover-less lovers, and for many woman, this involves having their bottoms groped, having males thrust themselves upon them, or worse males attempting finger the woman or grope her breasts. The attitude of such a male would seem to be that such a female would not dress in such a manner unless she was desiring of sexual attention, thus even if she rebuffs his advances, she ultimately still wants him to pursue her more, as if a part of the romantic hunt between the hunter and the hunted.
And while these experiences are not exactly rare, but more commonplace for some women regardless of how conservative or provocative they dress, there is little done by most clubbing establishments to protect women, because they often embrace this rape culture mindset of a woman being responsible for the attention and sexual advances that she garners. Furthermore, women are commodities for clubs, who are constantly trying to prevent their clubs from becoming "sausage fests," as women are given preference into clubs, but especially those who dress in a provocative or revealing manner. Thus clubs cannot really be void of any responsibility here, as they culturally pressure women to dress in such a fashion, yet clubs rarely step up to protect these women that they have treated like commodities. Bouncers rarely intervene in such encounters, instead merely being called upon to enter into a situation if there is physical violence between parties. The responsibility is placed on the woman to say no, but when the guys don't listen, there is little recourse for the woman other than being forced to leave where she is, and if she is followed, leaving with her girlfriends. And why should a woman's night out be ruined because a certain male cannot understand that no means no? Should a woman have to call the police threatening to press charges before a male leaves her alone? Is this what it will take, having women call the police into nightclubs to arrest males who sexually assault them in the shadows of a club?
The things that happen at a club, if they were to happen anywhere else, it wouldn't take such a mental leap for people to acknowledge it as sexual assault, but because it is in a club and women dressed up, the definition of sexual assault becomes a little more murky for whatever reason. And while I wrote about a year ago about what our clothing says about us, the clothing a woman wears never brings the burden of responsibility for being raped or sexually assaulted. If, for example, an attractive young woman came running out into the street in the buff, there is no point in which my ability to sexually control myself voids me of any responsibility for what I choose to do in response to seeing a naked woman. And while this may seem like a bit of an extreme example, the sad fact of the matter is that with women who get dressed up to go to the club, too many in our society foolishly transfer the blame for sexual assault or rape on the clothing that the woman IS wearing, as opposed to my scenario with the young woman in her birthday suit. Women who are fully clothed are sexually assaulted and raped every day. There is no sexual urge or action that you take that you are not responsible for; we are not animals lacking a moral compass. Every decision we make carries with it the responsibility to treat others with respect and dignity, regardless of how they present themselves. My decision as a male to go to the beach without a shirt does not mean it is my fault if a woman or a gay male attempts to sexually assault me. Yet the sad thing is that this is likely to never happen to me as a male, but for women, putting up with regular sexual assault and sexual degradation is all too common.