I am still really shaken by something I experienced / witnessed last Saturday night at a concert. Don’t want to read the distressing details? Here’s the take-home message:
DECENT MEN: if a friend of yours, or any guy you witness, is behaving like a #metoo wrecking ball at a show, or anywhere, let him know that what he’s doing is not OK. At the very least, check in with the women he’s preying on to make sure they’re alright.
I had been looking forward to the Unknown Mortal Orchestra show for a while, and reaallllly wanted to enjoy it. (A note for the uninitiated: they are NOT an orchestra!)
…but very unfortunately, the whole night was tainted by the behavior of a predatory dude working the floor where in the area where Scott and I were standing. We watched him making the rounds, repeatedly going up to women and attempting to manhandle them (embrace, kiss, and literally pick them up, dragging them away from their friends).
Then came the moment when I had to physically shove him away from my own body.
“So unhappy!” he said disapprovingly, as if I were the one with the problem. Um, yes?!
But “please stop smothering me” is how I responded oh-so-politely, because: that’s what women have learned to do when a much larger man invades our personal space. We watched many more women push him away over the next hour. At one point, there was a break in the crowd and Scott and I both saw the guy eyeing me; Scott immediately put his own body between mine and the dude’s, who made his way toward the stage instead of toward us.
Scott and I wondered: should we call security? (Though there were an absurd number of them on the way into the venue, there were none near the main floor during the show.) Should we start checking in with these other women to see if they were OK / whether or not they knew this guy?
Not once did any of the other guys indicate that anything was out of the ordinary… and so we wondered… was he a friend of the group and nobody wanted to rock the boat / appear to be the downer / “ruin” everyone’s good time?
Dude definitely ruined OUR night.
I honestly don’t know what the best plan of action is in these sorts of situations, but I will say that there is definitely a cultural difference between what flies in NZ vs what I’m used to in CA, where men / organizers / anyone really at the dance parties I used to go to were immediately responsive in the event that they witnessed any remotely invasive or sketchy behavior.
“You should have called security” is often the first response people have when I’ve recounted this experience, but let me tell you something: I seriously resent the fact that I’m still sitting here, playing over the events of the night and wondering what I could have done differently, when I’m willing to bet everything I have that Dude himself is not sweating this at all, and will likely do the Exact Same Thing the next opportunity he gets.
I’ll end with a request for All Decent Men: if a friend of yours, or any guy you witness, is behaving like a
#metoo wrecking ball (Scott gets credit for this term) at a show, or anywhere, let him know that what he’s doing is not OK. At the very least, check in with the women he’s preying on to make sure they’re alright.
If you stay silent because you’re worried about “ruining the vibe” of the night / “why can’t we all just get along”… take a minute to think about what might happen if this guy takes your silence as endorsement / ramps it up because he’s getting away with it.
P.S. Someone at work suggested I tweet a version of story to Unknown Mortal Orchestra; “Ruban will actually listen and say something,” he said. So I did (click to see full thread). No response yet, but we’ll see what happens.