Everyone loves a good party. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, divorces… All excellent reasons to throw a party. But when you throw alcohol into the mix, sometimes people either forget how to behave themselves like actual people, or they get the excuse they’ve been waiting for to behave badly and later pretend it wasn’t their fault.
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, and as much as it sucks, here’s a few don’ts for you:
- DON’T blame yourself. The only person at fault is the person committing the harassment/assault.
- DON’T go through it alone. There are tons of resources available to help you get through difficult situations. Contact your local sexual assault centre (in Edmonton you can reach them 24 hours at 780-423-4121). Alternately, contact your mental health help line (in Alberta, call them toll-free at 1-877-303-2642.) Both services are free, confidential, and can refer you to other services. You’ve got this.
- DON’T forget that you are loved. Girl, if you feel alone and you feel like you have no one to talk to about it, reach out to us via the contact sheet. I’ll listen and cheer you on. You are GOLD and you are more than the bad things that happen to you.
- (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.