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Last night was our first Take Back The Bar event, and we went to Whiskey’s on Boylston Street.
We had a really great turnout, especially considering it was our first event. Over the course of the night, about 40 people came to occupy the bar with us, and at one point we took up one entire side of the establishment! It was encouraging to see the number of male allies that joined us, as well.
The energy in our group was palpable, and it was really nice to feel like you had a group of people that had your back no matter what happened. The night was not without incident, and all of those incidents reinforced why this event is so necessary.
For me, it started when I left the house. I don’t go out all that much anymore, and so I’m not usually dressed in what I consider “going out clothes.” I decided that the nature of the event called for some, so I put on a kickass outfit that showed more skin than I’m used to showing.
For the record, I felt AWESOME and powerful. But on my walk to the 39 bus, up Boylston Street in Jamaica Plain, I got hollered and leered at multiple times, including one guy who slowed down his car to follow me for about a block. It made me angry but it really gave me fuel for the work we’re trying to do, too. I also noticed that the way people looked at me and treated me was very different than they do when I’m showing less skin. It was a palpable lack of respect from certain people, including the bus driver.
At one point during the night, a guy came up to Brandie, our Communications Coordinator, and Leah from Boston GLOW to try to talk to them. Brandie told the men that they weren’t interested. The guy didn’t immediately walk away but when he did, Brandie heard him say, “Well I guess I’m not sticking my dick in one of them tonight.”
Later in the night, I was sitting at a barstool with my back to the guy behind me. I felt his hand on my shoulder (I had not spoken to him at all, nor made eye contact with him) and he leaned in to tell me that he liked my hair. I pulled my shoulder out of his grasp and went to tell him not to touch me when Brandie said, “She dyes it for her own enjoyment!” It was hilarious, because she was quoting my chalking slogan from HOLLA::Revolution, but the guy looked terrified. He just stuttered, “Okay. It’s nice” and walked away.
One of the people there for the event ended up getting into a conversation about gender with a man who hung around our group for about 45 minutes. At one point in the night, my friend Liz came over to tell me that she’d been talking to an awkward man and another member of our group was with her. Before walking away, the other woman asked Liz if she was okay to continue the conversation by herself or if she wanted her to stay there for support. Liz articulated how nice it felt to know that everyone there was there to be supportive of everyone else, and how safe it made her feel.
One of the more hilarious incidents of the night involved one of the members of our group going to the bathroom to see this written on the stall:
When she returned an hour later, this had been written over it:
Further demonstrating the need for this event was the text from our friend and volunteer, Rosa, that I received after she had left:
If anyone doubted why this event was conceived, everything that happened last night reminded us how necessary it is. Whether we’re walking to the bar, we’re at the bar, or we’re walking home from the bar, we deserve to feel safe.
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. We are so excited for the next month’s event and hope to see even more of you there! Follow us on Twitter at @TBTBBoston and follow the hashtag #tbtbboston for tweets from our events! Thank you to Boston GLOW and Cambridge Women’s Center for sponsoring this event with us.
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