It’s now 2017. Yet, in this modern age – in this age of supposed freedom and equal rights, our industry is not working hard enough. In the past year throughout the world there have been big headline cases of sexual assaults on women within this industry of hospitality. Alleged sexual assaults by people who acted as leaders to the industry, to new bartenders, to all of us. Why, in 2017, is this behaviour dubbed acceptable and why is it continuing to happen? As a community, we need to come together to put a stop to it. Enough is enough. Every member of this industry should feel safe within it. Every patron at your bar should feel safe. Every person in this vast world should feel safe from the potential harm of sexual assault. Full stop.
The way we can become better as a community is to talk about it. To start voicing our concerns. To educate. To speak up when we see something that isn’t right. We at Bartender Atlas are serious about this and we want to help in any way that we are able. We want this industry to be better because we know that we can be. We are better than this. So with that, we continue our series of posts about sexual assault in the industry. We have asked regular folks as well as experts in the field to weigh in. We have reached out to those making a difference to tell us what they are doing. We hope that by having these conversations, those headline news stories will happen no more and that we all start looking out for one another better.
Today we hear from bartender and co-creator of this ol’ site, Josh Lindley. Josh has been bartending for eleven years and has worked within all capacities of the bar from backing to managing. Throughout his time in the industry, he has nearly seen it all.
I am a 36 year old white guy, living in North America. People will listen to me (and guys that look like me) more often and for some reason more closely than ANYONE else. I would never want to take advantage of this, but here I am, writing a piece about sexual violence in the service industry, when this platform should be used by any one of many women.
I know that at several times in my life I have made women uncomfortable. I never meant to, I promise. I almost certainly never hit on anyone in an abrasive way, but I am prone to talking about subjects most people avoid. I used to take my clothes off at unexpected times, but there was nothing sexy about it. I apologize if I ever made you uncomfortable. If we are ever together and you don’t like the way I am acting or speaking, please let me know.
The reason that I am writing this piece, though, for this series on a website that my wife and I run together, is because we put the word out to women in this industry to see if they would like to contribute. The first two pieces for this series were written by women working, literally, everyday towards making the world a better place. We wanted female bartenders to contribute. They wanted to, but, they were exhausted.
This is something that as a white man approaching middle age, I can’t fully identify with. Having my existence questioned, my worth questioned by everyone, always, is something that I will never have to live through. No wonder these women feel exhausted.
Two women tried to write their pieces for us, but had difficulty getting their emotions to fit into words. They felt that no matter what they wrote, it would be misconstrued and they would suffer from further harassment both in person and online.
Guys, all guys – but especially the ones that look like me – we need to stop this. It is on us as much as it is on anyone else.
So for the men around here, I want to mention some things that I keep in mind at work (and always). They are all simple to think of and execute:
- First of all, we can all use the words “bitch”, “slut” and “cunt” less, if at all.
- Imagine this: A woman comes into your bar/restaurant wearing a low cut top. Awesome right? Boobs! We love those things. There is a person attached to those boobs. A person who for any number of reasons decided she wanted to wear something low cut and it has NOTHING TO DO WITH US. Look her in the eyes and when you go off the floor, quit talking to your co-workers about all the things you will never do with her. She’s trying to have a good night out, her night out will be better knowing that the person getting her drinks hasn’t reduced her to what she chose to wear.
- “The 5 Second Read” goes by many names but it is essentially this: You have 5 seconds when guests enter the room and sit at your bar to figure out their angle. “Are they on a date? Have they been together long? Is this a tinder thing? Are they work acquaintances? etc…” This is a great game to play and will make you better at dealing with people (that is what we are here for, after all). That said, it never hurts, should a lady show up first, to ask for whom she is waiting and what occasion this is. You have just established trust with your guest and should something go awry, she knows she can talk to you.
- This one should go without saying: any “joke” you can think of involving drugging a drink is not fucking funny.
- If one of your guests complains that she feels uncomfortable with the way someone is treating her, get in the middle of it. If you do this right, you can actually change someone’s attitude about how they hit on people. Everyone wins. Do not shrug off her complaint.
- If your female co-workers are uncomfortable with a guest, take over that table.
- Do all the “gentlemanly” stuff you learned in boy scouts or from watching old movies. Only, think of it this way: “Don’t hold the door for a lady because you are a gentleman, hold the door for the person behind you, because you aren’t an asshole.”
There you have it. Some things we as men can do to make our workplaces/world better. Presented by a 36 year old white, cis-gender, hetero man that has listened to lots of Eminem. If I can figure this out, surely you can. Apologies for any generalizations concerning gender and preference, I am using this platform to make blanket statements because those are sometimes the only way to get through to guys that look like me. I swear I am trying to use my privilege wisely.
Any ladies that have something to contribute this conversation and series, PLEASE email us. We would love to have you to be a part of this.