It’s a Friday night at Black Dog on Whyte Ave. The place is at capacity. It’s our buddy’s birthday party, so the community is out in force to celebrate, dance, and socialize.
After having a smoke break, I head back upstairs. Upon returning to my spot on the dance floor I notice a new face near me. The guy is wearing a “KC” baseball cap and sunglasses. I greet him. I’m wearing a cute fuzzy rave hood, which he compliments. I take off my hood and offer it to him. He puts it on. KC looks good, real steezy, with the brim of his baseball cap poking out from under the fuzzy hood.
After a few minutes of dancing near my new friend, some girls walk past us. KC, lightening fast, reaches his arm out and touches the girl leading the group. It looks like he pinches her exposed midriff. She pivots to face him, points her index finger at him, and says “No!” Then she resumes leading her friends to the bar.
My heart races. I have just witnessed something non-consensual. I know I have to speak up.
I address KC: “It’s a good idea to ask someone before you touch them.”
KC says: “I don’t care.”
“Seriously,” I emphasize, “it’s not OK to touch someone without asking.”
I ask him to give my fuzzy hood back. He hands it to me. I put it on and resume dancing. KC is still near me, and a few seconds pass. A minute or so later, KC turns to me.
“You know, you’re right. If I see her again, I’m going to apologize.”
“That’s awesome,” I say encouragingly, “I think she’ll really appreciate that.”
“Also, when you apologize to her, you may want to take off your sunglasses, so she can see your eyes. I think she’ll appreciate that, too.”
“Yeah, good idea. Thanks.”
Holy shit! What a huge experience for me. I felt huge.
That was an avalanche of firsts. It was the first time I called out the non-consensual behavior of another man. It was the first time I did it immediately, when it was most relevant. It was my first time to address a non-consensual act directly, to a stranger, in a public place. I felt like a boss.
But enough about me. The coolest thing about that experience? I think he got it. It seemed like he heard me, thought about what he did, and how it made the girl feel. He wanted to apologize. Maybe he will change his behavior in the future. I hope he will. That will be truly huge.
Guys, this is how we’ll make the world a safer, more fun place for all people. Speak up when other guys step out of line. They will listen. Be a Guardian of the Vibe.
I know it’s hard, but you’re not alone. Need help? Check out the Guardians of the Vibe website. They have flyers with ideas on how to spread consent awareness in your community and how to get involved when something non-consensual is going down. Let’s do this together.