By Stephanie Missouri
With the holidays approaching, requisite parties will soon be in full swing. A time that’s supposed to be filled with good cheer shouldn’t include unwanted sexual advances.
Five clubs and bars along Fourth Avenue, Sixth Street and Congress Street have joined a Nightlife Safety Program sponsored by the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Abuse.
The program’s goal is “preventing sexual violence by promoting respect,” according to Rowan Frost, SACASA’s program supervisor for community prevention, education and outreach.
“The norms in bars are that if somebody gropes or grabs them, the people that are with them are like, ‘Don’t make a big deal out of it, it’s not that big of a deal, you don’t need to call the cops, that’s just how it is,’” Frost said.
The District Tavern, Sky Bar, Surly Wench Pub, Plush and, most recently, The Shanty are taking part in SACASA’s program. Club managers say harassing behavior will not be tolerated.
“We encourage staff to insinuate themselves into situations that just don’t seem right,” Shanty owner Bill Nugent said. “The female regulars who come here expect the staff to intervene.”
The bar also has a policy against letting people buy drinks for other patrons without their permission, Nugent added.
Frost recently conducted a Nightlife Safety Program training seminar for Shanty employees. The employees said they were proud of policies already in place but felt they learned valuable additional tools during the training.
Bouncer Jonathan Revies said he hopes customers will “feel more empowered” when they see signs endorsing the Nightlife Safety Program posted at the bar.
The signs say, in part: “This establishment does not tolerate unwanted sexual behavior or language against its patrons. If you are being harassed, please contact one of our staff.”
SACASA cites scientific research showing connections between aggressive masculinity, alcohol consumption and sexual assault.
For further information about the Nightlife Safety Program, visit www.nightlifesafety.org.