Something has been rumbling under the surface of the Fountain Square music community for the last month or so, and while I want to talk directly about it, I have a more comprehensive point. Let me start by telling you a few stories.
I have this friend who I always like very much until I remember that I don't. What happens to change my opinion is that he starts drinking. When he's sober, or four beers in and below, he's thoughtful, sweet, kind and creative. But I think social situations make him very anxious so he just keeps going and before long he gets mean. Now, our other male friends have been quick to point out that he'll say nasty things to them too. But the difference is when he's mean to me, it often involves touch. For example, once at a Halloween party he stood about six inches from me, grabbed hold of my arm and applied a lot of pressure. He then repeatedly asked me if I was mad at him. I told him to let me go but ended up having to pry his hand off of me. Recently, we were all playing pool after having a goofy night of karaoke together and he drank and drank and every time I went to take a shot he mocked me from somewhere in the room. Loud enough for other people to hear and to break my focus. He was playing doubles with my date who is an excellent pool player (though we were both having an off night) and insisted on "coaching" my crush who was having none of it but tried to stay polite. It was an interesting show of power and I realized that's all it was. A show of power. This "friend" probably doesn't even know why he does this. Once, I tried to tell him about the arm grabbing incident and he simply said, "Gosh I'm so sorry. I was really drunk."
That's not the first time I've heard that. I've broken up with someone for saying something truly terrifying while drunk. We hadn't been together that long but it was pretty rapturous; we were in it. But what he said to me was triggering. I couldn't trust him anymore--no matter how much he later rationalized it. No matter how sorry he was. My reaction to him felt/feels biological now. Fight or flight, and because I'm tired of fighting the person I date, I chose flight.
It doesn't matter how drunk you are and it doesn't matter how much you apologize for being drunk. If there is something inside you that leads you to issue strange displays of power over women you "like," or to say scary shit, or to grab butts and cat call women just because they'd make a good punch line, then you are the asshole not the person the booze makes you. You are one and the same. Good day.
Which brings me to my final story and the little spoiler I started this piece with (THE MEAT):
A lot of you have heard about a local singer/performer who's been ousted as a serial groper and generally disrespectful towards women. Many of us have seen this person in action and want to announce it to the world! HA I TOLD YOU SO etc. But, let me remind you. If you didn't say something to this person when you saw them act a fool, you too are a fool. I am a fool right along side you. When I saw him catcall two ladies simply because he wanted to make people laugh, I knew he was being shitty. But I just twiddled my thumbs, uncomfortable. I think I said, You are tooooo much, man.
This has all had me thinking a lot.
First thought: Because men aren't conditioned by society to obsessively apologize like women are, they might not have a single clue how to start. Because I want to think the best of people, I do believe that's where our local groper is living right now. First he tried to blame it on the alcohol, but now, as more people come forward, he's realizing he's in major shit and he's really sorry. I hope he remembers that self actualization is pretty amazing because if you do it right, you constantly grow. Taking the time to reflect and using his experience to teach other people not to be shitty are two small way he can atone. The girls he touched probably don't want to hear his whining so he should stay away and instead turn this guilt into a lesson for himself and for the men around him. He needs to find some humility and this storm can serve to teach him that.
Second thought: We need some serious by-stander intervention training in this city and and you best believe I am on my way to facilitating just such an event. Be on the look out for details coming soon. We can ALL do better. So let's start now.