This post was written by Jenny and Sarah, Social Issues Committee Volunteers.
This month the Social Issues Discussion focused on the difficult conversation of addressing consent in the service industry. This discussion is an important one as the hospitality and service industries are mass employers for many people. We have all experienced unwanted attention or seen someone else having to deal with an unwelcome situation, this social issues discussion provided the space to discuss personal experience along with learning the skills to address and deal with unwanted situations.
The evening began with an introduction by Jenny and Sarah; Social Issues Committee volunteers and the organizers of the discussion. Makina and Maddie, from Bar Talks Events, shared stories of their own experiences working in the industry, opening the door for attendees to speak out about their experiences. Maddie and Makina created Bar Talks Events as a way to help and support members of the hospitality and service industry by creating a movement away from the normalization of harassment in the service industry. Thanks to the brave women in the group that contributed their own personal experiences, it was very clear just how many of us have had similar experiences and how addressing situations at the ground level can help prevent situations from escalating.
For the second half of the discussion, Diana from the Centre for Sexuality provided the group with a condensed version of the organization’s Bystander Intervention Training. Diana highlighted some key ideas including what constitutes sexual violence, what consent looks like, how to approach a non-consensual situation, and how we can try to improve the number of non-consensual encounters going into the future. The group were provided with useful tools that can be taken into the world to ensure that we can intervene in a safe way when we see an unwanted situation happening, including Distract, Direct, Delegate and Delay; the four D’s of bystander intervention. Interveners can use their discretion as to which method they feel is better, but the most important thing to remember is always intervene by focusing on the person being harassed.