Hollaback Douchehound of the Week: “A Pub is a Sexualised Space”

This pompous arse wins Hollaback Australia Douchehound Commenter[1] of the Week. The prize? Nothing more or less than our eternal mocking and disdain. Posted here in full for your, erm, edification.

This story does not fit into your mandate of reporting sexual harassment in Australian public spaces.

This story is also quite different from the other ones in some very important ways.

(Let’s put aside the question of who took the photograph and concentrate on the claim that the men were sexually harassing.)

It happens in a London pub. As well as being within a different cultural context that is harder to judge by Australian audiences, a pub in western societies is a private premise that is an adult only sexualised social space. In these social contexts it is acceptable for strangers to approach each other and to flirt sexually. Pubs and clubs are the only social places I can think of off-hand that have this role. It is important that there are these social spaces because boy and girl (and other combinations of romance) have to meet somewhere – and if workplaces and public places are to be non-sexual then there needs to be other places that are sexual.

Because pubs and clubs are private premises, only those adults who want to be in these sexualised social spaces need go there. People need not attend if they believe that the only appropriate sexual space for a man and woman is the privacy of their bedroom after they are married. Cultural groups who do believe this usually have other social mechanisms such as arranged marriages so that boy and girl meet. For most people within western societies though, pubs and clubs have an important social role as an appropriate place for potentially sexual meetings.

If the story was about a barmaid, manager or cleaner being harassed then it could be a story about a workplace. But it is not. It is one woman’s report of a group of women in a pub as patrons. I assume these adult women had reasonable social intelligence and knew a pub at night is a sexualised social space.

I do not accept your dichotomy of it being a choice only between meeting at the pub or staying at home. It seems to me that the women had many choices of less sexual and non-sexual places to meet. They could have met at a restaurant, the movies, a picnic in the park, a coffee shop, a private party at someone’s house, a library, a workplace, an open public place, a pin-ball parlour, go kart racing, pistol shooting, water slides, church hall,…and yet they chose to go to a busy London pub at night.

Asking why they chose to go there credits them with moral agency for their own actions, and reveals them as something other than the childish ingénues that Caz wishes to portray.

So my question about why the women were there is not the same sort of question as asking why a woman was at a bustop on the way home from work, why a child was in a classroom, or why a woman chose one type of work over another. It is a question about why these women chose to go to a private sexual social space where it was appropriate for male strangers to interact sexually with them. It is a question about their role in the social interactions that Caz later portrays as sexual harassment from an endless stream of wankers. It is a question about the plausibility and bias of Caz’s report. It is a question about judging whether the men were behaving reasonably within a particular social and cultural context.

It is a question about when showing personally identifiable photos of men labelled douchebag, pillock, asshat, and wanker and claiming that they are sexual abusers is reasonable and when it becomes an abuse that the women are committing against the men.

As I said, this story is very different from the other ones in some very important ways.

[1] or rather, “Attempted Commenter”. The shiny new comments policy and posting guide is now up.

Categories: gender & feminism, violence


11 replies

  1. Yeah people go to pubs to meet new people and have a drink, and sometimes those pubs are pretty dedicated to being meeting points for single folk to get less single. But sometimes people don’t feel like meeting every single fella who walks in the door. Sometimes women meet someone they don’t fancy, and then they’re allowed to tell that person to bugger off elsewhere. Men are allowed to reject women’s advances too. That’s how it works. You make an approach, you flirt, sometimes people are interested in you and you keep talking to each other. Sometimes they aren’t interested and then you leave them alone.
    No one said you can’t start a conversation. Only that you cop it on the chin and make an exit when the other person isn’t interested in you. Is it really that hard?
    kate’s last blog post..Growing Challenge: Carrots & Daikon

  2. Who says a pub is a sexualised place? Just because I walk into the bar to buy a drink I have to put up with approaches and advances from drunk idiots? Get real.
    Mindy’s last blog post..And another thing!

  3. Proof positive of Twisty’s definition of women as the Sex Class. Because men go down to the local for a variety of reasons, to watch Fox sports and sink the piss and talk to their mates and get some time away from home. Women, it appears from Douchehound’s post, go to get laid. Any drinking / pool playing action is purely incidental.
    I also think of Twisty’s analysis in the context of women being presumed to be in a perpetual state of consent unless they state otherwise, Douche’s post is a perfect expression of that.
    Helen’s last blog post..Babysitter?

  4. It is a question about judging whether the men were behaving reasonably within a particular social and cultural context.

    Well, no they weren’t, Douchebag dude. They persisted after they were told to leave these women alone; that is not reasonable, that’s harassment
    Funny how these dudes get all bent out of shape when women use their “moral agency” to tell harassers to get stuffed.

  5. wow. i love the amazing jumps of logic (it’s either getting groped in a bar or an arranged marriage), the dudely superiority complex (there HAS to be SOMEplace where men can assault women with impunity!), and the oh-so-subtle talking-down to you (oh, perhaps you uncivilized australians do not understand the highly specialized social structure that is a LONDON BAR!)
    granted, i’ve never been to a bar in london, but i would go out on a limb and say that they are probably not vastly different than bars in australia, or the usa, or anywhere else. and Helen, excellent point about how women are assumed to be going to the bar for purely sexual purposes, whereas men are allowed to go for nonsexual reasons.
    ladoctorita’s last blog post..depression central

  6. Funny how he mentions and endless stream of wankers, isn’t it?
    Cara’s last blog post..Moving Up

  7. ladoctorita, I HAVE been in several bars in London – within the past two years.
    Can’t say I noticed any signs ANYWHERE in any of them indicating that I was entering a courtesy-free area and my entrance into such was equal to my giving consent to be groped, accosted, harrassed, etc, by any guy who happened to feel the need.
    I did notice that many of the guys I met in London seemed to feel more entitled to approach random women (in the street even) than I’ve ever noticed in Australia, though. (Eighteen year olds please note: it’s not cute when you’ve just met me and chuck me under the chin after telling me I’m “cute”. You’re younger than either of my brothers and you’re in my personal space. Bugger off.)
    In conclusion: douchebag is indeed douchebag-like, IMO.
    Aphie’s last blog post..This musical winter life

  8. Oh, but come on. He has a very valid point. Why, it’s not as if he’s saying that women who want to avoid lecherous male attention have to stay at home, or that they are only allowed to have fun if they willing take on the Sex Class role. Quite the contrary, they are entirely free to go to a library, a workplace or a church hall instead.
    Tch. Uppity womenfolk, wanting to be able to inhabit leisure spaces like real peoples.

  9. I think I’m a technologically underdeveloped. 🙂 Where is the original post that this was a reponse to???

  10. It is a response to a Hollaback message. I have not posted a direct link, since the point of the post (and of Hollaback in general) is explicitly NOT to dissect women’s experiences of harassment. The point of this post is to point out the problems with this man’s ideas about public spaces and women’s sexual availability.

  11. That’s ridiculous. London pubs aren’t any more about sex than any other place’s bars (At least, in my experience, they’re not . Women go to bars or pubs for a number of reasons – to hang out with friends (of either sex, which would make this man’s head explode) with a drink, to play pool or darts or whatever, or maybe to meet men. To be honest, a pub isn’t actually really a place women go specifically to meet men at all. They are simply a space to socialise, definitely not inherently somewhere just about sex, or even mostly about sex.
    Even if women go into a space to meet someone, that by no means excuses any of the harassment she might recieve from misogynist asshats. She is perfectly entitled to not like any of the men in a pub/bar/club/whatever, and no particular man should assume he owes her anything, even a second of attention.
    Rainne, I bet the same man believes that workplace secual harassment is just a myth, and that women should have to deal with ‘banter’ there, too. And at home, they obviusly should be all about serving their menfolk. Because of course, according to douchebags like him, women can’t ever opt out of consent to sex or sexual advances. Ever. Women must always be flattered and willing to be leched on. Ick.
    Also, ‘private sexual social space’? My bedroom is a private sexual social space, if I want it to be. A pub is a bublic social space. It’s not about the sex. Nobody normally has sex in pubs. the way he talks, you’d think women were always at it in pubs by the dozen. Nobody wants expicitly sexual interaction in a pub, except for the men who want to sexually harass women with impunity. Meeting new people that you may or may not have sex with is not interacting sexually, AFAIK. His insistence that pubs are all about sex reads to me as a pressure to women to accept his sexual advances as he makes them. He doesn’t want to play nice and start with polite niceties and see how the women like him, oh, no! He wants to be as rude as he likes, and the women should shut up and take it.
    Excellent post, and I love all the comments. Stuff like this keeps me sane. I could rant forever, but don’t have the time to.

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