Will sexual harassment at clubs be stopped?

Should it just be accepted that girls in nightclubs are fair game, that because they are dressed up, with a drink in hand, boys can lust, caress and smoothly chat them up?

Should it just be accepted that girls in nightclubs are fair game, that because they are dressed up, with a drink in hand, boys can lust, caress and smoothly chat them up? Well, this is what the drunk lads think they are doing. In reality it’s more like sweat, grope and stumble into.

These days, an average girl’s night out checklist includes makeup, money and friends plus four bum grabs, two grinds from behind and if you’re really lucky, a lick on the cheek. Although some people enjoy it and girls can definitely be equally predatory in clubs, on the whole it is an unwanted nuisance.

The National Union of Students are trying to raise awareness of this behaviour and want to remind students that sexual harassment, as dramatic and serious as it might sound, is defined as unwanted conduct on the grounds of your sex or unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Curbing unwanted behaviour

This can includes any interaction as the definition of ‘unwanted’ is up to you. Basically, if you do not want it, you should not have to put up with it.

A number of popular London nightclubs, including Fabric and Ministry of Sound, have signed a pledge to tackle this issue. Street harassment charity Hollaback London, Everyday Sexism and the End Violence Against Women Campaign, started the pledge to make clubs desexualize their promotions, advertising and staff training.

Every club involved will display posters saying: “If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter how minor it seems, you can report it to any member of our staff and they will work with you to make sure that it doesn’t ruin your night.”

They will also train their staff to deal with individual cases and encourage the clubbers to tweet their feedback.

NUS recently reported that a number of clubs inadvertently encourage harassment and assault inside the club. The most shocking example of this has to be a nightclub in Leeds that released a promotional video for their night Fresher Violation which encouraged male students to “rape a fresher.”

It is hard to say what is more worrying here, the fact that fresher girls actually attended this event or the fact that, when it’s made ‘ok’ by a nightclub, boys rush to play rapist?!

Leeds City Council is reviewing the case and it is likely that the club will have its license revoked.

It is great to see that something is being done about this atrocious behaviour in clubs, but will the posters and staff training really work? I fear that in todays ‘lad culture,’ this might present boys with more of a challenge. Would their lad status not just inflate if they were to have their wrists slapped in a club for grabbing a boob or two? 

I can see it now…

Facebook Post:                                                                                                                     

“Cheers Dave for my nomination! I nailed it…unfortunately not her though HA.  (photo of boy proudly being taken out of a club by the bouncers with girls crying in the background)                                                                                           I nominate Luke, Chris and Mike. You have 24 hours lads get on it!…or under it LAD!”

Beyond London

So what do the lady clubbers think? Gemma Clarke, 23, is a young media professional living in London. Gemma hits the clubs once a week and says:“I definitely think in terms of awareness it’s a good idea. You feel like, if you approach a bouncer and are slightly tipsy yourself, that you might just be laughed at and perceived as somewhat ‘deserving’ due to your own intoxication!”

Over the border, Olivia Mervyn-Smith, 22, highlights how Cardiff University address this issue. She says: “I think that bum grabs are fairly harmless and shouldn’t necessarily be called out but we shouldn’t have been desensitized to them in the first place. It perpetuates a gender issue when the posters are aimed at girls as victims. Perhaps they should be aimed at boys advising them how to behave, like the ones in Cardiff SU.”

Hollaback London has agreed that if the campaign is successful in the capital, they will talk to other clubs across the country and spread the pledge. Does this mean that we finally have a solution for that annoying boy on Friday night who just won’t take a hint?

Only time will tell.

What do you think? How can sexual harassment be tackled? Have your say in the comments section below.