Culture music venues New News Politics Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment shawna potter

Punk rock frontwoman Shawna Potter has a plan to make rock venues safer – ThinkProgress

Liberal snowflakes crave protected areas, so the buddies of Fox would have viewers consider, however Shawna Potter, of feminist punk band Struggle on Ladies, has one thing much less eye-roll-inducing however perhaps extra radical in thoughts. There’s no such factor as a protected area, she says, however all our areas might, and will, be safer.

Music venues, particularly, might do extra to maintain their extra weak patrons — ladies, individuals of shade, these with seen disabilities, to call a number of — from the sorts of verbal and bodily harassment and assault that, for too lengthy, has been thought-about an inevitability of the concert-going expertise. For years, Potter has run workshops about how you can fight sexual violence at exhibits, with particular, clear steerage for everybody from venue house owners to bartenders to allies within the crowd. She’s put her counsel, damaged down into actionable bullet factors, into Making Areas Safer: A Pocket Information. An expanded version is within the works and is due out subsequent yr.

Inform me concerning the workshops you’ve been doing that constructed as much as this information.

I’ve been doing these workshops since 2013. And it simply began out of an consciousness that there’s a necessity for individuals to know what to do in these conditions in venues of all types. We will speak about bystander intervention in really public areas the place everyone seems to be a stranger, and we’ve legal guidelines and insurance policies in place for workplaces and faculties. However there’s all this center floor the place perhaps you’ve got a bit little bit of authority. You perhaps work for a spot, you could have some duty, however there’s no HR to show to, since you’re coping with two clients. What do you do?

We realized we had loads of info to offer people. To offer individuals leisure time that’s truly leisure time – to chill out and never have to fret about being relaxed. And I say “we” as a result of I began this system with a pair fellow activists, however early on, they left to do different issues. Since 2014, I’ve been doing this on my own.

This concept of “leisure time that’s truly leisure time” makes me consider how uncommon that’s for ladies and different marginalized individuals. I’m considering a bit about one thing you wrote in Vice: “It’s unhappy that ladies go right into a public areas assuming and anticipating to be harassed or assaulted and utilizing a lot psychological power to security plan, as an alternative of simply having a very good time.”

Proper! So you must make that call earlier than you allow a home. However then additionally, when it inevitably occurs — when somebody says one thing or does one thing to make you uncomfortable — you need to determine, am I going to stay it out, understanding this individual is round? Or am I simply going to go away?  That’s what these workshops have been meant to offer individuals to do. Give individuals one other selection. What in case you might inform the individual operating this occasion what’s happening, and they might maintain it?

“There’s all the time one thing you are able to do a bit higher. And that’s nice. That’s a chance. That’s not a burden; and it doesn’t imply that you simply suck since you haven’t completed it but.”

It’s one thing that shouldn’t be radical however I feel nonetheless is, to lots of people: this concept that you’re entitled to go to a public occasion and anticipate to not be harassed or groped or no matter. That as a lady or gender-non-conforming individual, you don’t have to only say to your self, “properly, guess I higher brace myself for some creeps at this live performance, as there are all the time creeps at live shows.”

You may need simply stolen a line from the full-length model I’m writing now! I say, it’s not radical to have individuals not be harassed in your area. You don’t should be an activist to need everybody to have a superb time. That’s not that massive a deal! And other people which are harassed that don’t need to be, we’re not overreacting once we ask for a venue’s assist. Frankly we’ve been under-reacting.

War on Women. CREDIT: Eden Kittiver

Warfare on Ladies. CREDIT: Eden Kittiver


How has the response to your work right here advanced because you began these workshops in 2014? I’d assume that simply up to now yr there’s been an actual heightened consciousness of and fluency in a variety of the problems you describe.

I feel you’re completely proper, and I feel Me Too had an enormous half in that, when that hit mainstream. However as an anti-street-harassment activist, I do know individuals have been doing this work for years, means earlier than I got here on the scene. So these sorts of issues have been addressed by ladies and those that care about ladies since endlessly.

There have been, what, within the early 1900s, that ladies carried — that they had a number of additional hat pins so they might stick what they used to name mashers, what they used to name harassers. Poke these guys on the trolley! Get them out of private area! They might actually stick them with pins. So individuals have cared and needed to exist in public area with out being harassed for who they’re, for issues they will’t change, for a very long time.

“Individuals which might be harassed that don’t need to be, we’re not overreacting once we ask for a venue’s assist. Frankly, we’ve been under-reacting.”

My private focus is on ladies, however it’s true for individuals of shade, immigrants, individuals who put on a hijab, individuals who have seen disabilities. We’re uninterested in one, simply being continuously reminded of our identities. Like, I do know, I’m a lady, I get it. Depart me alone. And in addition, we simply need to loosen up. We need to go about our day in public areas, like everybody else will get to. And often everybody else is white, cisgender, straight-presenting males.

In your information you say that the first step is “consider the sufferer.” I feel in our society we wrestle with this concept of, in a courtroom of regulation, the rights of the accused are sacrosanct. However out on the earth — the place you are attempting to guard people who find themselves weak — there’s this totally different commonplace of, consider the one that says they have been victimized, and consider them instantly. How do you grapple with these two truths? How do you maintain them each in your head on the similar time?

However we do this on a regular basis, so why ought to this be totally different? I stay in the identical society as everybody else that always victim-blames and dismisses victims and ignores them, or hopes that they’re quiet so we don’t should cope with the issue. Even I’ve to recollect, you already know what? It doesn’t matter if what this individual is saying is 100% factually true, as a result of frankly, there isn’t any absolute fact in terms of somebody feeling uncomfortable.

When you stated you’re made to really feel uncomfortable since you have been harassed, that’s your fact, and it ought to matter to me as somebody operating a venue that you simply really feel protected. I don’t have to know each single reality and element and your historical past and the harasser’s historical past. I don’t want all of that to place everybody comfortable and have a great time.

Due to course it’s attainable that somebody who harassed did so by accident or with out malice, as a result of they’re dwelling in the identical society, the place males are taught to pursue, or white individuals are taught to middle their very own ideas and emotions and aren’t conscious of cultural norms for black people or individuals of colour. So it’s very potential that we’re simply going to say one thing dumb typically, even when we don’t imply it. However that doesn’t imply it’s not harassment to the opposite individual. It’s nonetheless value offering that educating alternative.

Let that harasser save face, give them the good thing about the doubt, however allow them to know they will’t do this right here. I need to make it possible for this one that is harassed on a regular basis can really feel protected in these areas.

You speak about all of the forms of areas the place your information might be utilized — in all places from the library to a live performance — however some areas, just like the Warped Tour, appear so massive that this recommendation is troublesome to use. The thought of discovering the best authority determine after which getting again to the harasser if you’re in an enormous crowd at Coachella or one thing, that appears formidable to me.

The complete-length model will handle bigger areas, like festivals. I don’t declare to be an professional relating to very huge gatherings. However most of the similar rules apply to small or giant: Apparent signage, letting individuals know what your insurance policies are and the place you stand, making it straightforward for individuals to know the place to go or who to speak to if one thing does occur. I ask individuals, in the event that they’re renting native safety hires for the day, within the e-book I say: You’re paying some huge cash to at least one firm to offer safety for you. I truly don’t assume it’s that huge a deal to ahead them a bullet-pointed record about easy methods to speak to victims that doesn’t re-traumatize them. They need to be capable of speak to a sufferer like a traditional, good, empathetic human being, and direct them to the place they should go.

It’s all about utilizing the facility you will have. The facility that these bigger gatherings have is totally different than smaller venues; however there’s nonetheless a lot extra that folks can do. There’s all the time one thing to do. That’s the aim of this ebook. There’s all the time one thing you are able to do a bit of higher. And that’s nice. That’s a chance. That’s not a burden; and it doesn’t imply that you simply suck since you haven’t achieved it but.

It’s fascinating that you simply begin the information by saying, flat-out, there isn’t any such factor as a protected area. However you don’t agree with utilizing that as a copout — to say, nicely, there’s nothing we will do! You employ it as an introduction to say, okay, however how can we get as near that as fairly potential?

Sure, sure, as a result of we will all the time get safer. However protected as an absolute, no, in fact not. As a result of anybody working at a venue isn’t personally chargeable for the actions of somebody that walks in. Somebody is a complete jerk, or they carry a gun, or they’re groping everybody, in fact it’s not your fault that that individual entered your area. However now they’re right here, and it’s a must to do cope with it.

As you say, individuals deliver violence into these areas and that’s solely so preventable — however different varieties of violence, like bringing a gun or a bomb, do result in extra prevention. Like after Manchester, you see venues that don’t allow you to deliver luggage into their areas, or they no less than have bag checks. So sure kinds of violence, like gun violence, are seen as pressing and everybody reacts to them fairly swiftly. However this kind of violence — harassment and sexual assault — might be rather more pervasive, however the response is basically sluggish in coming.

Yeah, as for bringing a gun, there’s loads of preventative issues venues can do, they usually’re doing it! Somebody brings a gun to a live performance, after which everybody begins to create these insurance policies for that. Identical to they’ve insurance policies in place for a fireplace or a twister. They’ve a defibrillator. Some venues are getting Narcan to stop overdoses.

However this seemingly small, harmless however truly simply quite common and pervasive harassment that’s happening, that’s occurring far more, statistically, that another points. It’s simply so normalized that folks don’t see it as pressing. However I take a look at it because the tremendous huge basis that permits for extra critical and violent issues to happen. And if we fuck with that basis — if we hack it to bits — the whole lot else on prime of it’s much less secure, and it’s easier to dismantle all of it.

“There’s all the time one thing you are able to do a bit of higher. And that’s nice. That’s a chance. That’s not a burden; and it doesn’t imply that you simply suck since you haven’t carried out it but.”

I consider harassment as a gateway conduct in the direction of violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, rape, homicide. When harassment is okay — and I’m speaking gender-based, racial, xenophobic, transphobic — and regular, between strangers on the street, then in fact individuals are going to push the boundaries of what else is suitable, when nobody cares and nobody will discover. If we make that unacceptable, it’s straightforward to say that these different crimes will not be acceptable.

And a really huge and environment friendly means to try this is to do it in areas the place somebody has slightly little bit of management, just a little little bit of duty, and the place individuals need to be and collect and spend their cash. When you put a line within the sand of, that is what’s okay and that is what’s not, you’re displaying an instance of how a group could possibly be, and that may perform to the streets, to all the opposite areas you go.

What’s going to be within the full-length model that you simply don’t get to cowl within the pcoket information?

I’m together with ways in which individuals can work together and flirt which might be wholesome and never seen as harassment. I’m together with an enormous chapter on what to do in case you are somebody who’s being harassed, how one can resopnd and ask for assist round you. And an enormous chapter on totally different variations of other justice, to kind of reply, what occurs after everybody known as out? What occurs after we are saying, okay, this abuse just isn’t cool — then what? And I feel that’s completely been the toughest chapter for me to put in writing, as a result of proper now’s when mainstream society is asking these questions. I don’t assume there’s essentially a simple, go-to reply, however I feel that’s simply reflective of, every occasion of harassment or violence is nuanced sufficient that all of them deserve a nuanced strategy. So there’s not one answer, however I hope in that chapter to current many options that folks can begin to get acquainted with.

To your level about, “what occurs subsequent after everybody will get referred to as out,” it does really feel like individuals are asking that query in actually telling methods. Louis C.Okay. is the instance that comes most readily to thoughts. Individuals ask me so much, as if I’m some popular culture parole officer, when he must be “allowed” to do comedy once more, or not be judged for his actions. And — I imply, to begin with, he might’ve gone to jail as a result of what he did is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, so he’s already averted some critical penalties for his violence.

But in addition, it’s simply revealing and disappointing that this dialog will get centered on the abuser and their profession, like that’s the main concern. And it’s not about what they’re doing to right for his or her conduct, to make it as much as their victims, to vary the system that allowed their abuse to flourish.

Or assist everyone else’s profession that he stalled as a result of they couldn’t get previous his dick! It’s ridiculous. And I do know individuals need a simple reply. They need a to do listing. and by chance, I’m able to give them that relating to making their area safer. All of the proactive stuff, I’ve made it straightforward as pie. However after actually intense hurt has been induced, there isn’t essentially a to do record. However definitely, if there have been one, it might be to sincerely apologize publicly, after which make amends. Atone! Do the work. Frankly, I do go into that within the ebook: Easy methods to apologize in a method that’s truly useful and learn how to atone. Learn how to present recompense.

It’s superb what number of of those males are so dangerous at apologizing! I’ve been considering quite a bit about why that’s the case. Is it as a result of, if you’re slightly child, you’re actually solely advised to “say you’re sorry” to make the entire drawback go away — to only say it, however not give it some thought? And it’s extra about getting caught and getting over it than it’s about actually apologizing.

It’s simply to say that you simply stated sorry, and also you don’t need to do something or make up for it. Sure. I feel that’s an enormous one. I feel males will not be requested typically sufficient to apologize for issues they’ve achieved — or aren’t made conscious, as a result of the individuals they hurt comprehend it’s not value it, to beg for that apology that will probably be half-assed and empty. And naturally, we will’t ignore the truth that all these dudes are lawyered up, and I’m positive their legal professionals are like, ADMIT TO NOTHING. And that’s legitimate in our present justice system, proper? That’s an apparent a part of the system we’ve that’s supposedly there to offer justice, however it doesn’t, and it’s additionally super-racist, and it’s for revenue. So it’s not truly doing something to stop hurt or make up for hurt that has been brought about. Whereas a lawyer may say, don’t say something, that isn’t going to get us to the place we must be if we truly need this violence to cease.

Is there anything about your pocket information that’s particularly vital to you?

It is very important me to acknowledge that folks have been doing this work for a very long time. Bystander intervention, the ladies’s lib motion, civil rights motion, homosexual satisfaction — this pocket information is many years within the making, because of everybody that’s come earlier than me.

What it actually concentrates on is particularly the issues I inform venues once I practice them to be safer areas. So it’s based mostly on the rules that have been already there earlier than I got here onto the scene, however the techniques used and the considerations venues all the time have and the questions individuals have, that’s all stuff I found out on the spot after doing this for years and realizing the widespread themes that might come up in each workshop. That’s what is exclusive about this information. So props to everybody that’s completed this work. I’m simply very grateful for all of the work that’s been achieved earlier than me.

[War On Women’s latest record, “Capture The Flag,” is available at Bandcamp.]


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