Dear Geeks of Chicago,
I have a confession to make. I don’t like bars. I know, admitting this is tantamount to heresy in a fast-paced entertainment-craving booze-loving world.
But let me explain. It’s not that I don’t like people or crowds, dancing or music, games or events, and food and drinks. I love all of those things. What I hate is the inevitable result that occurs when you put together excessive consumption of alcohol together with a patriarchal culture that makes men believe that they are entitled to women’s time, attention, and bodies. The result is cat-calling, harassment, assault, and rape. The result is that I feel unsafe in those spaces. And so when I go out, I go with large groups of friends--safety in numbers. More often, I stay home. Why? I don’t feel comfortable. Plain and simple. Because my anxiety for my safety isn’t worth it.
I can hear the dissenters, protesting and mansplaining away. “Not all men harass!” or “I’ve never done that!” or “That’s never happened to me” or “You should just toughen up!” And I refuse to listen to them. Just because it doesn’t happen to you, or that you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen (thanks Karlyn). Protesting that you don’t do it or you’ve never experienced it does not invalidate my experiences. We shouldn’t be holding ourselves to the lowest common denominator. We should be at least holding ourselves to a standard of decency, because not every woman can or should be a “tough chick” (as Mary Anne Mohanraj put it). I believe that I shouldn’t have to stay home.
And when Geek Bar Chicago opens, I won’t have to. Not only is it a bar geared towards people with very similar interests, but it is a bar that from the start has been proclaiming its intent to be inclusive, community-oriented, and a safe space for everyone who wants to come. They haven’t opened their doors yet, but they’ve already had an anti-harassment policy for months. And that speaks volumes. It tells me that they care for their guests as real people, not just individuals who buy things. It says that they’re conscious of the culture they’re entering--both geek culture and bar culture--that has a tendency of harassment, and are determined to combat that. It tells me that I am going to feel safe there--because I know that there’s a policy, and because I expect the staff to be trained to respond to their policy should the need arise.
But most of all, it tells me I’m going to enjoy Geek Bar Chicago. A lot.
Chicago Resident and Geek Blogger