Everyone loves a good party. Whether it’s a wedding, someone’s milestone birthday, an anniversary (or divorce…) celebration, there is never a shortage of reasons to throw a good shindig.
Still, when you throw alcohol into the mix it can sometimes lead to people forgetting to behave like decent human beings, or finally showing their true colours and behaving badly, only to later pretend it wasn’t their fault. “But I was drunk,” “I didn’t know she didn’t like my advances,” “What? You’re going to believe her over me?”
With the start of Sexual Violence Awareness Month, we wanted to rehash a post we thought was both important and relevant to the climate we’re living in, where we are too quick to come to the defense of individuals who are not only problematic AF, but gross, too.
This individual could be a friend, acquaintance, or coworker. It could, most likely, be someone you trust. But when that person breaks your trust by harassing, attacking, or intimidating other people in your life, you have to do whatever it takes to keep the victim safe.
So with this in mind, here are five Do’s and Don’ts for throwing your next party and keeping general male fuckery to a minimum:
- If one of your guests comes to you saying that another guest has made advances that left them feeling unsafe or even uncomfortable, DO investigate. It doesn’t matter if the accused is your friend, your creepy uncle, your dad, your friend’s partner (because being in a monogamous relationship never stopped a trash human from crossing boundaries), you MUST investigate. As host/hostess, it is always your responsibility to make sure your guests feel safe.
- DON’T excuse bad behavior by pretending it was a misunderstanding. If it was, it’ll be easy to clear up, but if it wasn’t, then you just effectively prioritized the comfort of someone who makes other people feel unsafe over the actual safety of your guests.
- With that in mind, DO remove any ongoing threats to the safety of your guests. Remember that many women suffer from anxiety as a result of bad experiences with men, and most women will experience sexual harassment at some point over the course of their lifetime. These experiences can be triggering, but many incidents often go unreported, leaving the victim with a sense of helplessness and frustration. DON’T be a reason that victims don’t report by doing nothing when someone comes to you for help.
- “That’s just how they are” is not an excuse, and sexual harassment in any form shouldn’t be excused. DON’T make excuses for other people’s bad choices. It’s up to the individual to own up to their mistakes and make appropriate reparations. If you know that your friend is in the habit of making women feel uncomfortable, why are you friends with this person? He may have many redeeming qualities, but what does it say about you if you can’t draw the line at “makes women feel unsafe”? All you’re basically saying to the harasser is that they can be a creepy mf’er and there will be no consequence. That’s all kinds of problematic. Don’t be trash, and don’t hang with trash. It’s not hard.
- After all necessary precautions have been taken to ensure the bad behavior stops, DO ask the victims of harassment/assault if they are okay. Support them. Show solidarity with the victims, and remember that every time you turn a blind eye to harassment, you become a silent accomplice to the problem.
It’s 2018 and I can’t believe I still have to *explicitly* spell this out. Remember: all men are capable of being problematic. Even “good men” do bad things. (Remember Cosby?)
You owe it to the people who confide in you and come to you for safety to believe them, support them, and do everything in your power to keep them safe. This doesn’t just go for parties; these basic do’s and don’ts apply to workplace, friend circles, even family gatherings.
To all the victims: I’m sorry if you have ever felt unsupported after going for help when someone has violated your sense of safety.
It is not your fault.
You are not alone.
You are loved.
(This is the hard part) DON’T expect an apology. Don’t wait for one from the people who hurt you, and don’t expect one from the people who failed you when you turned to them for help. It sucks, but make peace with the fact that the people who fail you lack the moral compass to realize the role they played in hurting you, and if you’re holding out for that apology, you’ll be waiting a long time because it probably isn’t coming. Trust me on that one.
For information and statistical data about sexual assault and harassment in Canada, visit The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Sexual Assault and Harassment Fact Sheet.