Conversation café Safe(r) Clubbing

By Bestuur on 02-12-2022

Pretending to call someone on your way home. Say you have a boyfriend to stop someone from harassing you. People say you’re too ‘serious’ if you confront them about being touched unwantedly. You might even select your clothes for a night out depending on how much energy you have to stop unwanted (physical) attention, as dressing ‘sexy’ might be seen as an invitation.

These are things that you might recognize from personal experience, from people telling you or you haven’t heard them before. That is why we organized a conversation cafe to talk about safer clubbing in Maastricht.

Nightlife should be safe and fun for everyone. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We talked about what influences our thoughts and behavior, how we can prevent (sexual) transgressive behavior from happening, and what we can do now if we see it happening. On our panel were three amazing people, each with their own unique expertise and perspective:

0 Sanne Thijssen is an advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and youth engagement. She is the founder of Shake The Dust and works as a consultant from Maastricht.
0 Alexandra Fletcher is a volunteer at Let’s Talk About Yes. Let’s talk about Yes is a campaign to promote consent culture in Maastricht and at the University.
0 Edward van Kempen works as the volunteer coordinator at the Muziekgieterij. Foundation De Muziekgieterij is committed to providing a solid place for the music scene in Maastricht, and its Euregional environment, which is accessible to everyone.

Our takeaways from this session:

> At nightlife boundaries fade, you wear different clothes, have more freedom and you can explore. This also makes it more difficult to see whether someone is in a good situation or a bad one. There is training available, which the municipality can offer to clubs and their personnel.
> Among other factors, sexual transgressive behavior is caused by gender norms and power imbalances. Education about consent and boundaries & wishes from a young age contributes strongly to prevention.
> Having conversations among friends, collogues, and family is also essential. Your experience is not everyone else’s experience. And people might not be aware of it until you tell them. This is also a good practice to say to people later onward they are behaving inappropriately.
> When someone tells you about an incident, whether you are a friend or barman, always first acknowledge the victim’s experience. That also means don’t blame the victim! No matter where you are, who you are, or how you dress, no one should touch you without consent. It’s their fault and not yours.
> Clubs, like the Muziekgieterij, can do great things to promote safer clubbing. Think of messages on toilet doors, house rules, using notifications to change policy or crowd management.

Unwanted physical attention has been normalized. But it shouldn’t be. Together with clubs, teachers, trainers, policymakers, clubgoers, etc., we can change this!

We very much enjoyed the conversation café! Hope to see you next time.

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