I had an unfortunate incident occur Friday night while out a burlesque show with some friends. I don't really want to talk about that in and of itself, but I do want to talk about the circumstances around it, and some deeply ingrained notions I have about things like sexual assault and harassment, despite being a radical feminist who 'knows' things. By know things, I mean I've read and studied a lot of theory, have had lots of conversations, walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to being a feminist. <--- That's a lot to read but I highly recommend it for a thorough introduction.
So, Friday night we were invited out to a burlesque show. We decided to go at the last minute so I de-frumped a little bit by throwing on a long sleeve shirt with my jeans and some lipstick and we left. When we got there I realized that I was REALLY over dressed, seeing how much more in tune with the show everyone was, but didn't care too much as I was tired and am still fighting the end of this ghastly cold. My friends looked fabulous, lots of leather and glittery skin, while I was yawning and just kinda boppin' along to the music. We had a good time until the beginning of the third act when the unfortunate incident occured. A new friend, not in our group and definitely drunk, tried to pass off his very unwelcome behaviour as 'in the spirit of the burlesque show' after apologizing (but not leaving me the hell alone after I shouted at him), and that was like being splashed with cold water.
In the spirit of the show? Did I look like one of the women on stage? Hell, was I even dressed like 90% of the women in the audience? Spirit of the show hell NO, dude just thought 'hey I know her' and decided to violate my personal boundaries and leave a bruise. He could've done the same thing to any of the women there (and I'm not saying at ALL they would've deserved it, I'm saying his excuse is completely invalid I was in no way a part of the 'burlesque spirit' except to be sitting in the audience. Noone deserves sexual harassment.) but didn't because he knew ME, and figured he could take that liberty.
It keeps coming back to how I see myself, and how that ties in with the larger things I 'know' about harassment. I 'know' that all kinds of women (and men) face it. It doesn't matter what you wear, weigh or say, at some point in your life, someone is probably going to harass you, and it's probably going to be someone you know. That was proven Friday night and I guess it just hurts to really grasp that now. Despite 'knowing' things, I still see/saw myself as someone who doesnt' get into trouble, someone who doesn't attract that kind of attention (because hey, I'm plain, I'm fat, I wear glasses, I'm short and I 'know' those things aren't really culturally desirable), but those things right there, that self vision, is based on the incorrect cultural narrative that there ARE people who get themselves into trouble, who DO attract that kind of attention, that there is a 'certain kind of person' who gets harassed or raped, which is of course, not true at all. These things are acts of opportunity, and are a symptom of broader cultural problems, like entitelement and privilege and ultimately patriarchy.
Navel gazing over. Tuesday shall have an announcement. TL;DR? Shitty things happen to all kinds of people and force us to (hopefully) re-examine how we go through the world.