A little while ago, I linked to a post I wrote over at Mother Jones on how to respond to catcallers. Today, Deeply Problematic (one of my new favorite blogs) has a piece on catcalling and "partner privilege."
Its a smart post about the many different privileges she has that make it easier to simply walk down the street. I am privileged in many of the same ways that she is: I am white, heterosexual and not just partnered, but married. I have far fewer catcalls to put up with on a daily basis, not only because I am often with my husband, but because when we are not together I have a giant symbol of my socially-sanctioned relationship on my left hand.
Now, the only time I am the recipient of these utterances is when I am with one or more women. Strangely, even if my husband or another man is with us, if the ratio of women to men is high, we will still hear them (I blame Mystery).
A case in point, was this weekend when a few of my friends and I went out dancing. The club we like to frequent is not a bastion of heteronormativity like other douchey places. In fact, on this night in question there was all kinds of partnering going on. But, the jackasses do seem to be everywhere so you have to stay on your toes.
The first time I went to said club, I came home with sore arms and shoulders. No, not from rockin' out, but from checking (with the help of a friend) all the dudes who thought my friends were there solely for them to grind their crotch into uninvited.
Since then, my husband has come out dancing with us because we like dancing together, especially to 1980's synth pop, 1970's metal, and current hip hop all smashed together (awwww). While we joke that he is our own personal security detail, my arms haven't been tired every night he has gone, because far fewer douches think it appropriate to assault - yes, assault - someone who has a friend that they think could kick their ass (read: male).
All this is to say, it made me sad when we were talking about our most recent dancecapades with a friend who had only gone with us the first time, sans my husband, and was one of the targets of dancefloor douchebaggery. She wanted to go again, but was concerned about feeling safe on the dancefloor, so another friend assured her that it was different when my husband or another man was there.
Sadly, this is true. It is true, even though the friend that offered assurances can probably benchpress more than any hipster jackass and can certainly deliver a roundhouse kick to the face. It is true, even though we live in a bubble of progressiveness and frequent clubs whose patrons come from diverse identities and sexualities. And it is true, that even though I have a Master's degree in dismantling the patriarchy and have trained pre-teen and college girls in personal safety, a night out dancing will be more fun with a male chaperone.