Harassment is real. It's widespread, and
pretending it isn't hurts people
and keeps people away from our dances.
Things I have personally witnessed, and when subsequently asked the dancer
whether anything was unusual, they confirmed:
One dancer has a habit of grabbing hip *just* at the butt-line. One of the
young women was 15.
Another dancer intentionally threw a quarter on the ground in front of a
young 20-something lady. I watched in horror as she bent over and picked it
up as he leered.
One dancer did a frontways dip to a 20-something lady which included
torso-torso frontal contact. No permission was asked.
Another dancer came in drunk / high and was dancing wild.
Another dancer has a habit of intentionally shoulder-checked men who have
called him out on his creepiness.
Another dancer was swinging way too close. Turns out he was following a
minor around and asking completely inappropriate questions.
And I have more of these stories. Seriously, the list goes on and on.
I've been dancing far fewer years than many on this list, and danced at
many different dances - this isn't limited to one dance community. And
these are just the stories I've verified.
So are all of your eyes closed?
So... Yeah. I absolutely think that we should keep our eyes open. I think
we should calmly and privately inquire when we think we see inappropriate
behavior. We should be absolutely receptive that sometimes behavior is seen
and a victim is too afraid to step forward on their own.
And we should stop with such flippant and potentially dangerous phrases
like "crying wolf" or that people need to just grow up and "act like an
adult" because bad stuff happens.
On Sep 9, 2015 4:04 PM, "Martha Wild via Callers" <
Yeah, we had a guy at one dance complain bitterly
that other men were
being creepy with his girlfriend. But when I spoke with her, she said there
was no problem, they'd done no more than gypsy and swing her and
occasionally speak to her with advice on the dance. The more I spoke with
the two of them the more I wanted to yell at the woman - run fast, very
fast, as far away from this control freak as you can!!!! But I suppose it
was not my place to warn her right in front of him. No surprise they never
On Sep 9, 2015, at 7:39 AM, Lindsay Morris via Callers wrote:
Appreciate that. Don't think the "where there's smoke there's
issue applies here, though. It would if there were several *different*
women complaining about one man...
On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 10:34 AM, Ron Blechner <contraron(a)gmail.com>
I realize this is a tricky topic, so apologies in advance if my brevity
comes off as bruskness.
These two suggestions work for Amherst Contra.
As a proxy complaint comes in, a board member would seek out the source.
Anonymous complaints are permitted, and a high level of ensuring that we
ask open-ended questions, and not leading questions.
We also wear board member buttons at dances and make regular
announcements about us being available for any reason. Usually 4-7 members
of our board attend any dance.
You might speak privately to Will Loving, our lead organizer, if you're
interested in more specifics.
I would also caution about making such definitive statements as "just an
accusation". In my experience, where there's smoke, there's fire. For every
accusation, there's five people who are too uncomfortable to speak up.
That said, I have seen the success of proactive addressing of issues.
The biggest benefit is simple:
Address it early when it's small, and not a huge deal. Maybe it's a
simple misunderstanding. Maybe the person needed a clear boundary drawn.
But wait until there's a pile of complaints, and you've already lost
dancers and the resolution will need to be more severe for the offender.
On Sep 9, 2015 10:08 AM, "Lindsay Morris via Callers" <
> Chris Weiler's Positive Solutions
> on dealing with problem dancers, and the CDU Policy
> are thoughtful and useful documents.
> We have a different problem here.
> One woman often complains to board members about men she sees as
> creepers or sexual predators. She reports their misbehavior on behalf of
> their victims. The victims don't initiate these reports.*
> Many others *don't* see these men as creepy or inappropriate.
> Recently one of the "victims" clarified that her discomfort with the man
> was a year ago and she'd long ago dealt with it to her satisfaction. The
> man in question had heard only rumors that some nameless woman was unhappy
> about some nameless thing he'd done.
> This woman also publicly asked that young women who feel harassed
> should talk to her about it. We feel that's the Board's job, not hers.
> It seems that this woman is fishing for - or even inventing -
> "naughty-dancer" problems.
> When a married man gets accused of being a sexual predator, his wife
> has to wonder if it's true. This adds to any marital tensions they may
> already have. So, while this woman is not actually punching anybody in the
> face, it seems to me that she's committing violence.
> How should we handle this?
> - I think we need a "No proxy complaints" policy - i.e., the victim
> has to speak up (and then our process will usually fix simple
> miscommunication issues).
> - We need to clearly identify board members, so genuine victims
> know who to talk to.
> But does anybody have other ideas about preventing one person's issues
> from poisoning the atmosphere of a mostly friendly dance?
> * I know, victims often have a hard time stepping up and complaining,
> so advocacy may be a good thing. But that's a different discussion. In
> these situations, there's no victim; there's no predator; there's just
> accusation with little to back it up.
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