Trigger Warning: Abuse and Sexism
If you ask a woman about existing in a crowded public space, we all have stories about being rubbed up against or groped. Sometimes it’s overt, sometimes it’s someone brushing past and copping a feel so stealthily, we have no idea if we imagined it.
Since I either go to or photograph concerts several times a week, I am in this position a lot. Mostly I all shrug it off as the price I pay to be able to do this as my job. I mean, I am also sure I have inadvertently touched men in ways that made them uncomfortable as I moved through the crowds again and again.
What has been happening more and more is direct aggression. I have no idea if the pussy grabbers feel emboldened by the current administration, but they sure don’t like women stepping in front of them at a concert.
Or, for example, asking them to be quiet when they are talking over a performer.
Last year, I was at a small show where a singer-songwriter was quietly playing to an intent crowd. Two dudes were discussing their day, their work, which way the wind blows, and pretty much anything other than how good the musician was. Finally, I jokingly made a “shhhhh” finger to them, and you’d think I’d told them to go fuck themselves.
Both of them immediately got in my face, asking me who I thought I was. Why didn’t I go up to the front? What was my problem? Did I know I just ruined the concert for them? Can you believe I did that? The nerve of me!
They followed me around the venue until I finally went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out. And started to second-guess myself!
When they were leaving the venue for the night, I actually started to apologize. One of them stuck their finger in my face and told me to think. about. my. behavior.
Sometimes it’s perceived as a weakness of women, but I consider self-reflection a strength. I reflected that night and tried to make amends. I have reflected further since, and those assholes were completely in the wrong. Somehow, their conversation, and enjoyment, and anger management issues were more important than everyone else in the room.
Flash forward to last week.
A line of photographers were entering the pit to photograph a show. Some Ben Shapiro wannabe leaned over from the barricade and touched the stage between myself and another (female, of course) photographer. He said, “it’s cool as long as you don’t stand here.”
I reminded him we would only be there for three songs, and we were, in fact working.
In fairness, we do get grief about being in the pit from fans of all genders, and I understand. But, by far, the men are affronted the most. *AS IF* we dare get in their way.
Wannabe Ben asked me how many photos I actually needed, and how could they possibly be any good? He was sure they would all be shitty. Then as the band started, he tried reaching around to block my camera from behind.
“Do you want me to call security?”
He gave me a huge shit-eating grin and said he’d love that! I did and they were talking to him as I returned to photographing. Remember, we only have three songs to get our shots.
“Soooo. How many dicks do you suck a week? … Is it three? Four?” The other female photographer was an unfortunate witness to this comment too.
My self-reflection went out the window as I whirled around, stuck my finger in his face (so proud!) and told him to GO. FUCK. HIMSELF.
He jumped back, smiling and looked at security like they were supposed to pull this she-devil off him. To add insult to injury, he made orgasm sounds as I left the pit.
What struck me about this particular douche is how he knew what to do to not get charged with assault. Because trust me, it was later discussed with the security staff of the venue. They wanted me to, and watched him like a hawk for the rest of the night.
In the end, I decided all it would do is make a huge ruckus for other concert-goers if they pulled him out on his head.
Since then, word spread among the staff of the venue, my fellow photographers and other friends in attendance, both male and female. All were very protective of me – and we promised to be more protective of each other. It’s a good first step. Because of these sort of incidents, I have been much more nervous at shows in the past few years.
However, in the end, all Ben did was make me feel more confident that people had my back.
You mess with a girl, you mess with her village.