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Sub-cultures, alternative nightclubs and safe spaces for women

(12 Posts)
Vixaxn Thu 11-Aug-11 12:40:40

Spinning off from some comments in No Thanks I've Got A BF 2 thread, those who are or were frequenters of certain types of 'sub-culture' clubbing, goth/indie/rock/you name it seem to agree these spaces were very safe for women - you could wear what you want, men wouldn't hassle you, both sexes would hang out as equals and friends. I was reading a friend's book about goth culture, which also commented on how respect for women (and gays, different races etc) was an integral part of the scene. Now do these scenes attract those who 'get it' anyway? That has to be a major factor. But I think those who may have been initially attracted to the scene for the music are/were also 'correctly conditioned' for the most part. And though these scenes often came from a sense of alienation from mainstream culture, the sense of belonging actually gave those more of a sense of responsibility to that culture (and other people) than 'regular folk.' What I'm getting at is that the creep in a bar, the lad - maybe he doesn't feel part of (a) society, he is the one who feels more alienated (the riots now add to this theory). The rules of conduct are more distant. Even if the mainstream culture he is by default or by choice part of and identifies with is more sexist or tolerates bad behaviour to women, he might not feel connected to it, just getting vague clues about what's right or wrong. Is it possible to learn lessons from how those alternative spaces encourage and enforce good behaviour - with one reward of feeling 'included', or are they always going to be an escape from mainstream society with their own rules, for those that make the choice to seek out those spaces, and not of interest to Mr Sexist Lad? I suspect there is a huge middle ground of males who would modify their behaviour if they were exposed to similar conditions, if that could happen.

Bit of a ramble, sorry. Make of it what you can. I'd like to hear from any younger women who feel they belong to a sub-culture where they feel freer than those operating in the wider society. As regards men, I think many enter these cultures or spaces already respectful of women, but the 'rewards' are better than they might have imagined. If other men were aware of how they would benefit they might change their behaviour. Could the answer to a sexist society to set up more indie clubs????

CMOTdibbler Thu 11-Aug-11 12:52:29

From my experience in metal clubs (am too old and decrepit to go out now) , it was certainly that it was a self enforced rule - you could spot non rockers coming in and thinking they could harass women being put right about it very rapidly by men who might only know the woman concerned very slightly. Also all the women I knew were very empowered to say loudly and actively that they didn't like someones behaviour, probably because they would be backed to the hilt by anyone in the vicinity.

They were very accepting places for men who wished to look different too - obv most men in them go for long hair/piercings/tattoos, but several men I know dress with makeup and a more effeminate look that gets them grief outside

SnapesMistress Thu 11-Aug-11 14:17:03

I spnd a lot of time in alternative clubs/bars/events etc and I think you are right. I feel very comfortable in these places and rarly get harassed. When it does happen it is rarely the goths and more the 'mainstreamers' who have come in for the night. These people get summarily told to fuck off by me and other women. We know that we will be backed up by all the other men and women in the club. It helps that I know most of the people in the clubs I go to. Even in a large city you get to know the alternative community if you spend time in the right places.

aliceliddell Thu 11-Aug-11 20:00:53

Don't want to be bitter and cynical, but - any chance these boys are just a bit better at it? So they can talk the talk, but ultimately they know how to play the game. <history of association with sundry lefty boys weighing heavily>

snowmama Thu 11-Aug-11 20:51:28

...I am with alice on this one. As someone who does not belong to any subculture..I have often found my interactions with rock/goth boys/men as similar to the 'new men' of the
90's.....lots of telling me about sexism/racism in a slightly passive aggressive patronising manner..

Sorry, I am sure there are some genuinely good guys (as there are everywhere), but I am not fully convinced.

ravenAK Thu 11-Aug-11 20:55:27

That does accurately describe some goth/alternative blokes. But I'd certainly agree re: the OP's point about clubs.

I'm always aghast when I'm dragged in to mainstream clubs. Horrible meat markets.

& I've been going to clubs for 25 years. Neither alt nor ms clubs have changed much in their...ethos? atmosphere? as far as I can see

feministlurker Thu 11-Aug-11 21:40:32

I am not one of your younger women. But in my younger days, the spaces I experienced as safer were indeed what you might call sub-culture spaces. I do not think there is anything special about particular sorts of music (sorry) but I think that the sort of person who gives themselves permission to be a bit different from the mainstream, sometimes is the sort of person who also gives themselves permission not to bow to that laddish type of male peer pressure which in a child you might call "showing off" and in an adult "alpha male behaviour".

But more importantly, in a minority "scene" people will tend to know one another. You can't be anonymous because there are just not that many of you. And men who identify with the "scene" will behave a bit better in those circs because there are more consequences (social ostracism within this local scene) to any bad behaviour. Just as, in a bar, some men will behave badly just because in that context they feel they can.

It must be admitted that some of the more traditionally male-dominated, geekish subcultures I have come across also did have some rather fine examples of dinosaur-like attitudes towards women in general. But I personally never experienced bad behaviour from any of the men concerned - whereas I definitely did in pubs, bars, on the street and in more mainstream male-dominated arenas.

solidgoldbrass Sat 13-Aug-11 19:03:46

Oh fucking hell yes! While I might be an old bat now and more than capable of seeing off a slobbering twerp, I always preferred rock, indie, fetish and bike clubs to mainstream ones. And even as I got a bit older, I found the same applied, people who preferred 'non-mainstream' entertainment were generally much less tiresome company. OK it wasn';t always the case and now and again there would be a pest or even a real menace in a rock or fetish club, but on the rare occasions I went to any kind of 'normal' nightclub, it was always ten or twenty times worse, one pest or predator after another (and I am not, and never have been, a particularly 'pretty' woman - what got them sniffing after me was always my tendency to be visibly un-owned ie wandering about on my own, dancing on my own being in the club on my own (because I wanted another drink and the pub had shut, or I had squabbled with the mates I'd gone there with or whatever) I used to go to rock clubs, fetish clubs and bike rallies alone and generally had a fabulous unthreatening time.

Empusa Sun 14-Aug-11 18:31:17

Another one who agrees. Always much safer in alt places, could go to an alt pub/club on my own, wouldn't dream of going to a "normal" pub/club on my own!

Felt my home town suffered badly when the only alt pub closed down and we had to make do with one "rock" night a week, you noticed a real difference in attitude from the alt guys and the "normals".

You'd get the odd dodgy bloke, but you knew you'd be looked out for by the rest. Even if you didn't know them!

StarsAreShining Tue 16-Aug-11 10:41:58

Actually, as a person who used to regularly go to various metal/rock clubs, I've found that they're not great either. Probably better than normal clubs, though.

There were a few places I used to go. One was particularly bad and consistently allowed underage people in. I was underage. There was almost a competition between the women to see who could be more 'badass' (attract more men and wear the least clothing). I even remember the DJ encouraging all of the girls to take off their tops. And many of them did. Some of them were about 15. They were all freely sold very cheap alcohol and allowed entrance. I didn't see a single person asked for ID.

I've lost count of the number of times I was harrassed there. The girls were absolutely treated like meat. I remember a friend of mine once congratulating another guy for finding me in a drunken state because 'you can get her to do anything'. He seemed to think they could have a threesome with me, whether or not I wanted to. Then proceeded to shove his tongue down my throat with so much force that he knocked me backwards. His girlfriend was at the club, but that was ok because he would just hit her if she said anything. I also remember a male friend once warning me not to wear a skirt, because I was guaranteed to be assaulted. And it was true. They thought it was their right to do that. The few times I got angry about this, they either laughed or seemed bewildered that I would be anything but grateful for their attention.

Just thinking about that place makes me feel sick. And all of those people were very much part of 'alternative' culture. I saw the one who did the congratulating a few weeks ago, and he actually looked me up and down before sneering at me as though I'm scum. I need to stop typing now because I'm shaking with anger.

As an aside, I went to a metal pub (for a birthday party) when I was pregnant. They were all smoking around me. This was when the smoking ban was in place. They were too badass to care about the law or the health of my unborn child. I left pretty soon after arriving.

StarsAreShining Tue 16-Aug-11 10:53:47

And before you ask why I ever went there more than once, I was very young and had 'problems' coupled with the belief that I was worthless. So there you go!

steamedtreaclesponge Tue 16-Aug-11 11:03:41

I'm not sure that you could call it a sub-culture, but when I first moved to London I used to go to a lot of trance and psy-trance nights, and I certainly noticed that these were much friendlier and safer-feeling than the meat-market, mainstream music clubs I was used to from university. I think that this was partly due to the culture of those nights, which generally had quite a hippyish feel - lots of people in fairy outfits, face painting, that sort of thing - and partly due to the fact that people mainly went out to dance, and to socialise, rather than to get wasted and try and pull. I would frequently spend hours wandering around chatting to strangers and dancing on my own and can't remember ever being hassled or groped or bothered in that way. I do think that alcohol makes a difference.

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