General Safety for the Late Night Bar Scene

Ok, this isn’t the blog post I was expecting to write today (although I will still come back to that one when I next get the time), this blog post is an extended reply to a comments discussion on youtube as simply the 500 characters space will not be sufficient for what I wish to say.  Hence bringing this hear, I will also (at some point) get the respective yt comments threads and paste them below this entry so that you’ve got the whole context, it’s not something I have the time to do at the moment.

So why this post?  Well this stems from the video Bair posted on youtube letting people know he’d written his blog piece about the whole Tf/sexual harrasement who-har that’s kicked off.  In the comments section I’ve been responding to a number of people about various things, and the whole late night coffee invite in a lift thing has come back up.  And there’s this one guy that I think, quite frankly mind, really does not get it at all.  I’m not going to name him in this post but I will be addressing him with it and I’ll make sure he’s aware of this so he can reply here (although a very quick note on new commenters, the first post will need approval but that is to prevent spam posts by bots, all other posts are auto approved from then on).

Right, we ready?  Good, lets crack on.  Having taken the time to re-read the comments exchange I can only conclude that you really don’t get the point of why this would be an issue for someone (never mind the fact this instance involves a woman being the askee).  Lets tackle this thing from the top, we’ll remove gender from it and we can still pose a valid hyperthetical of two people leaving a bar late at night and one asking the other for a coffee, in the askers room.

So it’s late at night at a large event and a number of people have been in the bar chatting late into the night, one person excuses themselves to head to bed and another person follows them and in the lift makes a polite invite to continue the discussion over coffee, the person asked politely refuses and this is actually the sensible thing to do.  Now the question is about explaining why this is a sensible thing to do.  Neither of these people know each other, and as innocent, honest, well meaning etc that the invite could be the askee has no way of knowing this.  I’m now going to give two extreme examples of why going off with someone you don’t know, or have only just met, is actually a bad idea.

Recently in the UK Channel 4 aired a documentary called Lifers and it featured a number of people serving life sentences and they discussed the crimes that they were in prison for.  The one most pertinent to this hyperthetical is a young man that was conviced of killing a woman under deminished responcibility, he spoke frankly of the fact that he left a night club with an urge to kill someone, anyone, and it happened that he met a woman in a take away, struck up a conversation and they left together.  She ended up being the person that he killed.  In addition there are also the infrequent serial abductions and killings (sometimes with additional sexual elements) of women that take place, I did a quick google search on this and the results are here, I also did the same search but changed women to men, the results are here.  Granted these things are rare/infrequent but in the grand scheme of things the fact that either of these things happens is something to be cautious of.

So these extreme examples of things that can go wrong out of the way lets go back to why turning down the invite this was a sensible idea.  And for this it’s time for a bit of background, I got the nickname Angry Womble from my days doing Jiu Jitsu, it stems from the fact I’m a bouncey and fluffy person normally but when I get on the mat I tend to go a little MDK.  When I stopped training I was getting ready to take the step from being an intermediate grade to a senior belt and I was actually trying to train up to finalise some things to be ready for my next grading, but life got in the way.  Of the things that we used to routinely talk about there are some key things that are relavent to this discussion, the first one (and this is by far the most important) is that the best way to avoid being hurt is to not be in the way or avoid the situation, so a lot of our training involved tongue in cheek responces of legging it to avoid the punch/knife/whatever.  The other things that came up frequently were that most of what we did wasn’t directly transferable as self defence, that was our grab releases and the like, knife defence training we did was just to give context to wrist lock practive (in the event of a knife being pulled and not being able to run hand over your cash, it can be replaced you can’t) and that those of a shorter and less muscley disposition would need to fight as dirtily as possible should anything ever happen to us for real.

So by turning down an invite to coffee in a strangers hotel room at some very late hour the person has not put themselves in danger.  Had the person elected to accept the invite they probably would have been safe, most people are generally by far not out to murder random people in hotels, but it’s still a risk and one that’s down to the individual to judge.  I certainly wouldn’t judge for them but if this is the sort of thing then it wouldn’t hurt to have some way of letting a friend know where you are so that if you don’t surface in the morning (hopefully for all the good reasons of an evening in someones company) they can track you down.  Also, and hopefully I’m preaching to the converted with this, if you feel the situation has gotten out of your comfort zone then get the hell out of dodge.  Make an excuse, have something set up with a friend so they can call to check you are ok or the like, and if all else fails locking yourself in their toilet is perfectly acceptable. 😉 Likewise if you’ve invited someone back to your room make sure you’ve got your safety covered, and again the hiding in the toilet option is still viable.  And from either side if things do get ugly yell and scream from the top of your lungs if it’s needed, this is not the time to be shy and worry about people sleeping around you.

But as I’ve said already the key avoidance is to not put yourself in danger, do this by travelling known routes late at night, staying in well lit areas in places you are less familiar with, if you listen to a personal stereo of some manner bear in mind it removes one of your senses from the job of picking up clues of danger and above all else be aware of the space you are in.  Is that person/group walking behind you because they are walking the same route as you are or are their motives more shadey?  If you are at all unsure then cross the road, if you can’t then make sure you position yourself so that you have obsticals between you and them as they the apprear on your route and that you are never caught without a line of escape should you need to run.

Now I’m sure that some people might try and turn my last comment into some level of paranoia on my part.  Let me say here and now that my general assumption is that most people are generally fine and out to not be a dick, but you can’t ignore the fact that there are some unpleasant people in this world that will want to take your stuff and otherwise mess with you so having a bit of caution when you are out and about isn’t a bad thing.  And on a final note it’s worth loking at your posture when you are out walking, if you look confident and walk with a purpose you reduce your chances of being targeted.  And if you are ever thinking about asking someone for coffee late at night in a hotel, try the bar or somewhere public, it’s safer for you as well as them because after all… arn’t to know if the person that you are about to invite back to your room is the sort that might do you harm.

Now hopefully I’ve made my possition on this clear, going back to the original senario as far as I’ve been concerned the guy’s motives where probably nothing nefarious but as I’ve outlined it still doesn’t mean it would have been good to accept his invite.  As to being sexualised?  Well there’s a certain amount of that going on in many interactions, and it’s not always a bad thing but it’s something that, in a senario involving a late night invite like here, that can add to someones feelings of unease.  I’ve also been to a few convention things myself and other mass meetings, they can be perfectly safe and enjoyable, just be mindful of what things are where.