One Cincinnati area college student writes about her own experiences with the bar scene… and it’s not pretty.
Hey, can I buy you a drink?” It seems like such an innocent question. But as a 20-year-old woman, with many 21-year-old friends that frequent many bars, it can be much more complicated and risky than that. When my friends are asked that question when we are at a bar, I immediately pay much more attention to the guy and his behaviors. How does he seem? Is he alone or with friends? Is he being pushy about buying the drink? Does he let my friend come with him as he buys the drink or does he go get it himself? The bar can be a very scary place to be when you are a vulnerable young woman. My friends and I go to the bars to have a good time, and for my single girlfriends who are of age, that includes getting handsome men to buy them drinks. For them, it can be all a part of the fun. But I worry that they aren’t in the right state of mind to be conscious of what the guy’s intentions are. In the fast-paced environment of the bar, it can be easy to miss if a guy slips something into your drink. And once you take that first sip, it can be all over from there. When I’m out with my friends, I try to make sure that they are aware of how the guy seems at first. If he seems off in any way, I try to coax my friends away from the guy, or suggest ways to politely turn him down.
Another issue in bars can be more prominent in bars with dancing as a big feature in their bar. The dangers here include groping or uninvited touching. In my friends’ and I’s experience with this type of situation, most guys don’t even ask if they can dance with us. They just come right up to us and assume we are ready and willing to dance on them and be touched by them. This is the most frustrating thing to me. I hate that guys just assume that we are okay with them touching us and dancing with us. I can’t tell you how many times one of my friends or I have pushed a guy’s hands away or walked away from him. Then the worst happens: they persist. They keep trying to dance with us, even after we have pushed their hands away and told them to stop. What gives them the right to touch us without our permission? Just because we are dancing, that automatically means you have an open invitation to touch me? This is a small perpetuation of rape culture that we deserve to be touched in that way because we were dancing in this way. And I refuse to stand for it.
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Finally, the last issue of bar safety I want to discuss is going home with someone you meet at the bar. I never think that is a good idea. You just met this person; you can never be too careful because you really have no idea who they are. Luckily, my friends have always been interested in all going home together instead of going home with anyone they just met. Of course, I am not trying to condone or promote victim blaming in any fashion. If you did decide to go home with a stranger, and he did do something that you didn’t want him to do, than it would not be your fault even in the slightest. I just want to make the point that, unfortunately, you can never be too careful in today’s world. That is the world we live in, and it is a world I am trying to change. Men should be taught how to be mindful of women’s boundaries and to ask before assuming a woman wants to be touched or wants a drink from you or wants to come home with you. Only then can we begin to promote a safer bar environment for women.
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**All opinions in this piece are of the writer, Erin O’Callaghan, and do not in any way reflect the opinions of A Voice For The Innocent, the Board Members, or any affiliates.