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  • Beth Johnstone

Lifting of Restrictions Endangers Consent

© Collage by INJECTION - Beth Johnstone

Nightclub predators could use the lifting of restrictions as an excuse to touch women without their consent.

To dance, to drink, to socialise. Whatever the motivation, within the shared space of the nightclub, friends and memories are made and lovers found. Nights out have always been exciting, especially after more than a year without them, but for most of us, they’ve always been a bit scary too.

Good Night Out, an organisation working to ‘create safer music, culture and nightlife spaces’ through education and specialist training, say that “research demonstrates that safety planning is a normal part of nights out for women and LGBTQ+ people.” The gender imbalance here is hardly surprising – of the approximate 773,000 adults that were victims of sexual assault in 2019, 618,000 were women (according to the UK Ministry of Justice’s Crime Survey). The 2013 version of the report highlights the link between nightlife and risk of assault, stating that “Those [women] who visited a night club at least four times a month had the highest victimisation rate of any characteristic covered by the CSEW (9.2 per cent).” So no, we’re not paranoid for watching our drinks.

Along with the unfamiliarity of it all, it’s possible that over a year of social distancing has created a covid-induced danger that extends beyond our heightened social anxiety and awkwardness. After spending a year more aware of our physical closeness to others than ever before, you’d think we might have learnt something about consent, but, though some perhaps have, imagining how many will react to being drunk amongst a crowd of people after restrictions are lifted fills me with dread.

As if nightclub letches needed more excuses to touch and harass us – their ability to dream up justifications for their actions was already astounding – it doesn’t seem unlikely that excitement over restrictions lifting, and the wishful assumption that we all just can’t wait to get touching each other, will be used by some as an excuse to touch others without their consent. Of course, some genres are known and loved for the physical rowdiness of their audiences, but should every dance floor become an amorphous blob of sweaty bodies? Absolutely not.

Figuring out what you feel comfortable with could be a bit of a process, but take it slow – the parameters of your comfort zone might have shrunk over the past year. If wasted guys getting overly chummy and putting their arm around you for the club photographer makes you feel weird, don’t be scared to pull away. Nobody wants to feel a sweaty armpit on their shoulder anyway.


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