A man’s world

I went to a concert tonight at a local bar-slash-music-venue. It’s a band that got its start at the MSU Battle of the Bands and that I first (and last) saw perform seven years ago when I was a sophomore at Michigan State. It’s a band that I like, that has a female lead singer, that has non-offensive lyrics. So I went to see them tonight. I listened to three cover bands that did little to impress me (I’d say they did nothing to impress me, but one of the three bands actually had my attention for a little bit). And then the Real Band got on to play. My friend and I were in the middle of the crowd, not in the front but still close enough to see (somewhat).

Now first, let me emphasize, I went to see a rock band, but it’s sort of an indie rock band. It’s not hard rock, and it’s not punk, and it’s not metal. The group consists of guitar, keyboard, and drums (vocals by the keyboardist and guitarist).

So when they played the song that started them on their path to success, and a group of men next to me started a mosh pit, I was really quite at a loss. I was right at the outer edge of it, behind a man and his girlfriend who were trying to stay clear but kept getting slammed. I only got slightly jostled. But still. Five minutes later, a guy dove into the crowd to crowd surf. He was coming my direction, and I told myself I would not touch him.

I have a right to go to a concert, to listen to music, without risk of injury. I have a right to not have to decide between touching a strange man in a spot that makes me uncomfortable and having him dropped on my head. I have a right to go out in public without always having to watch my surroundings, having to listen in on all the conversations around me to make sure there isn’t something sinister going on. I have a right to stand somewhere without being groped (as happened a few months back in a bathroom, while I was washing my hands). I have a right to my personal space, to my autonomy, none of which (save for the lack of groping) I had tonight. My friend and I were on our own as the group of all men careened into one another, bodies crashing together, trying to do who-knows-what. We left a few minutes later. There was no enjoyment left in the evening.

So tell me: When did this become a man’s world? When did something as simple as listening to music become something so male-centric? When did personal safety become a privilege rather than a right? Why do I have to leave a concert that I paid for, why do I have to step back and away, giving up my space? Why aren’t we teaching men to respect the space of others? To notice those surrounding them? Why aren’t we teaching men that this world is inhabited by a wide scope of people, including women? When will we understand that respecting women is more than cheering for a female singer on stage, it’s more than opening doors, or refusing to wrestle a female opponent. Together we must recognize these spaces that have been so thoroughly claimed as male, and we must work to make them for everyone.

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