It’s a Saturday night in your city and people all over town are making plans to hit up the most popular music venue to catch a prominent local band. Groups of friends meetup beforehand to plan outfits, shoot the shit or convince each other to stop hermitting and be social. On this particular night, all walks of life turn up to see the band, and it’s a blast. The room is alive with energy, nearly everyone is dancing. Most people leave at the end of the night feeling invigorated. But there are a few music-goers whose night was clouded by discomfort. Why? Because another human inappropriately laid their hand on them without consent.
Many of us, both men and women, can share a story of a time someone invaded their personal space at a show by touching them without permission. Since I began writing this article, I attended a fantastic show and as I was dancing, a man walked up behind me and put his hand around my waist. I wheeled around and calmly but sternly told him to never do that without asking someone because it’s basic respect. After my friend continued to glare at him, he came up to me to apologize again. That experience was mild compared to what some show goers have experienced. Though alcohol or other drugs may be obscuring the boundaries of what is and is not appropriate interaction, it absolutely will never be an excuse for a complete lack of basic human decency.
This abhorrent behavior goes far beyond the live music scene. The recent “Me Too” campaign spearheaded by actress Alyssa Milano against film producer Harvey Weinstein has ignited overwhelming support within the acting community, highlighting the prevalence of this inappropriate behavior within the larger population. It raises questions about why predators feel entitled to treat other human beings like items in the produce department of the local grocery store.
That’s why Ashley Driscoll has spearheaded GrooveSafe, an initiative seeking to bring awareness to the need for consent before physical contact at shows. They have created an elegant and eye catching logo that when displayed, is a reminder that we all need to be conscious of the way we conduct ourselves around other people. When asked to describe what we can do to prevent these unwanted interactions she stated:
“Unfortunately prevention is a difficult word. The main goal of GrooveSafe is to spread awareness that these sorts of behaviors are happening all the time, all around us. I believe change in behavior starts in understanding how truly unwanted these advances are. Our true goal is to become obsolete someday. Nothing would make me happier than to go to a show and not have to constantly look over my shoulder and just be able to watch the show in peace. This is a difficult question because it is not as simple as going in groups or wearing a certain thing or another. Females and males alike should be able to look, feel and be whatever or whoever they want without being touched by a stranger or sometimes even a friend in a manner that they have not agreed to or have not welcomed.”
Perhaps one solution is to more effectively teach the importance of consent in early education, so our younger generations can grow up with a stronger understanding of consensual behavior. In the meantime, Driscoll is doing what she can to raise awareness through GrooveSafe. With plans to launch a website, she will soon be selling stickers, pins and other merchandise so people can brandish the logo to bring attention to non consensual touching. The money she brings in from these sales will be used to keep producing gear to perpetuate her important message.
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Groove safe everybody.