Sunday, August 3, 2008

It's hard out there for a [feminist]

Sometimes it is so friggin' hard to be a feminist.

Case in point: I went out last night with my sister and some friends. We went to a couple of bars and clubs. (-"Is that what you're wearing?" -"We are going to a nightclub" <-- Name that movie and win 10 points) My plan was to go out, drink, dance, have fun. Should be easy enough, right? Turns out it's not so easy to have fun while being bombarded by the overt misogyny thrown at a woman who is drinking and dancing.

We went first to a dive-y sports bar. We were left alone for the most part. Walking into the pizza place next door to grab a slice, however, merited whooping and catcalls from the men loitering within. I ignored them as if I were oblivious. I just wanted some pizza.

Our next stop was a club with a mechanical bull (for Friday night Bikini Bull Rides, of course) and a dance floor. The harassment started in line outside. A large drunk man had appointed himself to the position of keeping the line orderly. Mostly this job included eyeballing all the women and mentally undressing them. "What's your name?" He asked, looking me up and down hungrily. I do not take kindly to this type of harassment. It's such a pervasive example of how widely accepted male entitlement is; it is the "harmless" end of the spectrum of rape culture. But I suppressed my raging inner feminist. I was in a good mood and having fun with my friends. I wasn't about to let this asshole spoil it. I didn't just let it go, however. "What do you think my name is?" I asked, playing along. "Happy," he replied, eying my bright yellow top, but clearly thinking about what was beneath it. I had nothing to say to this, so I rolled my eyes and moved up in lines.

Inside, it was about as dark, loud, and sweaty as is typical of this type of establishment. (Note to club DJs: Playing two different songs at once does not qualify as a "mash up." Sorry, you're going to have to try harder than that.) The woman who collected our cover, as well as all the female bar tenders, had her shirt cut open to reveal what can be best described as heavaing bosoms. On sale behind the register were all sorts of bachelorette goodies (feather boas and cowboy hats) and sexxxxy souvenirs (ladies' underwear that said "I got bucked" with a picture of a lasso). We walked through the bar area and down a ramp to the dance floor. My stomach did a little jerk when I saw the stripper poles on raised platforms at each end of the floor. There were no professional dancers, just waxy tanned club-goers, some with bachelorette tiaras, gyrating against the poles and each other. (Ariel Levy, eat your heart out.) At this sight, I tell my shoulder feminist (like a shoulder angel or shoulder devil) that she might as well retire for the night. [Note: I realize that I haven't explained why the stripper poles were problematic. I don't intend to use this post to go off on that particular subject. It is the same reason why the "I got bucked" undies are a problem. For more insight, I highly recommend this "click"-inducing post by Twisty over at I Blame the Patriarchy.]

As we snaked our way through the crowd of grinding bodies, I felt a hand reach out and grab at my stomach. Ew! Who cops a feel of a girl's stomach? I whipped my head around, but there was no way of knowing which leering creepoid was the perp. I shook off the slight but glaring violation and continued on, following my group towards a less dense spot on the dance floor.

Sigh. Being a feminist is hard work. It's hard to "turn it off" for a night. It feels like the only way to have fun in the nightlife-scene is to put your principles on pause. But not to worry, the Patriarchy will still be there in the morning. You can resume your fight once you've sobered up.

That being said, I had a great time last night. I drank, I danced, I had fun. I hope to have more nights like it before the summer is out.

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