Allies and buddies

I’m doing some research into how people can support their friends who are confronting harassers and bullies, or how men can confront other men about their behaviour.

Lindy hoppers don’t like conflict, and we’re generally totally rubbish about telling other dancers to stop being dicks. So we need to learn how.

I am working on being brave enough to step up and call people out on their behaviour, but I know that’s not for everyone. Particularly as our scenes have a very clear hierarchy – teachers at the top, everyone else lower down. Which sucks, and we can all work on dismantling that, too. But I do think that if you’re not actually doing something about sexual harassment and assault in your lindy hop scene, you are enabling it. You’re making it possible for men to get away with this stuff.

So what can you do?

1. You can start working on empowering women dancers in class, on teaching students how to give feedback (positive and negative) in class, and you can model this yourself. But not all of us are teachers.

2. You can be a buddy for someone who’s going off to confront someone. Go with them, stand next to them. Or just make it clear that you’re watching.

3. If you see someone doing dodgy stuff, and causing a fuss, don’t look away. Look at them, and make sure both he and the recipient of his unwelcome behaviour knows it too. You don’t have to step in or say anything, but you can turn your body to face the people talking, you can stop talking to your friends, make eye contact, you can make it clear that you are listening and watching.

4. If you’re DJing, use the mic in a way that lets the punters know you’re watching them. I’ve started doing this at our Harlem night, mostly in a good way – cheering people on in jams, etc. But it makes it clear to the punters that I am watching. DJs watch the floor all the time: if you’re DJing, put that power of observation to good use, and let organisers know when you see Dodgy Guy X being dodgy. Let them know straight away.

5. If you are a man, and if you see a guy you don’t know too well doing dodgy things, what can you do?
First, what are you limits? When do you get to too much? What will make you do something? Think about this ahead of time, so you’re ready.

When will you step in?
When the guy starts shouting?
When he touches a woman you don’t know?
When he touches a woman you do know?
When he hits them?
What is your limit?
What will you do when you reach that limit?
Practice your response, and talk to your buddy about when they’d like you step in.
Just fyi everyone: if I’m confronting someone and he touches me at all, I want you to step in! Immediately! I figure that’s a good place for all of us to set our limit: if we see someone touching someone else in an obviously dodgy way, step in!

6. If you’re a man, and your buddy or a guy you know is doing dodgy stuff, what will you do? What are your limits?
The AFL have a poster that can help you figure this out.

» Ensure your own safety

» In an emergency, call the police

» Talk to another friend about your concerns and decide on a response

» Distract the person whose behaviour is a worry and talk to them later about it

» Move away from the activity and later apologise to the woman for your friend’s disrespectful behaviour

» Leave the scene and later let the person know you had a problem with the way they treated the person

» Enlist the help of friends of the person you think is at risk of harm and check that she is OK

» Confront your friend directly and say that their behaviour is not on

» Don’t do anything at the time but later talk to a woman you know about how you could deal with the behaviour in the future

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