Opinion

Please seek my consent at nightclubs

Dance club

There’s nothing wrong with people getting flirty and enjoying themselves in nightclubs! If one of my female friends meets a guy or girl they want to dance up against, kiss or go home with, that’s AWESOME… as long as it’s on their terms.

Unfortunately, almost every woman has experienced a lot of aggressive, intimidating and forceful behaviour from men in nightclubs. Sometimes, these guys are so keen to ‘pick up’ that they fail to take into account the rights, feelings and boundaries of women.

What these men need to understand is, a woman’s consent is not just required in the bedroom – sexual harassment can occur anywhere. So, boys, to ensure you don’t cross the line into sexual harassment territory on a night out on the town, here are four things you should be asking my consent for in a nightclub.

1. Buying me a drink

There are several reasons I won’t accept a drink that’s already been paid for. Firstly, I value my safety above any free alcoholic beverage; I don’t know you and, if I didn’t see this cocktail being prepared before my eyes, then I don’t know what I’m drinking either. The date-rape culture is real and it’s rife. That’s not to say that every guy handing me a drink is a rapist, but, if I’d rather not take the risk, it’s my body and my prerogative.

Secondly, I might not drink alcohol. There’s a chance that I’m Muslim or Mormon – that my religion doesn’t support alcohol consumption – or that I’m struggling with addiction and trying to stay on the wagon. You don’t know my circumstances or my life choices and, if you’re truly interested in getting to know me, be considerate enough to ask my permission before you buy me anything.

Finally, it’s just polite to ask. When you offer to buy a girl a drink, it’s not really about the drink; it’s about saying ‘would you like my time and attention?’ It’s supposed to be a question, not a statement. When you buy a girl a drink, without asking her, your basically saying ‘you will accept my time and attention, whether you like it or not’. That’s not the way dating works; you don’t force somebody to go out with you, you ask them a question and wait for the answer. It’s respectful, and it shows that you view your potential love interest as an equal.

2. Touching me on the dance floor

I understand that dance floors are very intimate and that, sometimes, you can’t help accidentally grinding against somebody, but if your intention is to deliberately invade my personal space, please ask me first. Too often my girlfriends and I swap stories of our private parts being forcibly grabbed, whilst we are trying to dance. Not only is this offensive to a woman’s autonomy, it is humiliating and degrading.

What guys must understand is, just because a club is quite often a platform for romantic or sexual encounters, that doesn’t mean you can grope whoever and whatever you want. It’s also flat out illegal. If you tried to grab my crotch or my breast in an office, in an alleyway or in a supermarket, you would be arrested. The laws of sexual harassment apply everywhere, not just where you choose to apply them.

If you’d like to dance with me, say ‘hey, is it okay if I dance with you?’ Even if I’m looking at you, smiling at you and beckoning you over, it’s still important to ask using words. Remember, consent stops anytime I choose. If I’ve changed my mind about dancing with you, or if I’m uncomfortable, you must respect that.

3. Kissing me

There’s no shortcut to getting a kiss from a woman. If you want to kiss her, talk to her, get to know her, ask her to dance or ask her on a date. If you’re too lazy to do any of the ground work, that’s not my problem. You DO NOT have the right to grab me and force your tongue down my throat. Even though you’re not pushing sex on me, or touching my private parts, you are harassing me. Any time I am physically intimidated or bullied into doing something, it’s harassment and your family would be disgusted by your behaviour.

4. Taking my phone number

One of the very first lessons our parents teach us, as infants, is that it’s not right to take things that aren’t ours. You don’t take somebody’s ball in the playground without asking, you don’t take an apple from a fruit shop without paying, and you don’t take somebody’s phone number if they haven’t given it to you.

Taking a woman’s phone number from a list or database, or pressuring her friends into giving it to you is a total breach of privacy. The reason why so many families have private numbers, or are not listed in the White Pages at all, is because a phone number is such a personal piece of information. When in the wrong hands, a phone number can be used to frighten, threaten, torment and/or stalk a person. And, even though you might consider yourself a ‘decent guy’, you stop being that the moment you start stealing.

If you’re interested in seeing a girl again, ask her if you can have her phone number, or give her yours.

Summarily, it’s always a good idea to ask a woman how she feels about something. If she’s attracted to you in the first place, displaying humility, respect and consideration in asking for her consent will only make her like you more.

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About the author

Claire Stewart Moore

Claire is a NIDA-trained actor, YouTube vlogger and freelance writer. She loves elephants, karaoke, buffet breakfasts and surrounding herself with strong, passionate women. When she's cranky, she can always be appeased with green tea, popcorn and Seinfield.

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