Busting a move. Without busting someone else’s groove.

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On Friday, November 23rd, I got to go out and have a blast at SACHA’s United Way FUNdraiser, Dance Dance Feminist Revolution!

It was lovely. I worked at the door during Dawn and Marra and Unfinished Business, and boogied on the dance floor to the tunes of Fortuna. One of my favorite parts about the evening was the atmosphere during this event, which was fun and encouraging. Part of what made it so, while not explicitly stated during the show as a norm, was what seemed to be an understanding that we were all there to have a good time. For me, this translates to being able to do some carefree dancing without having to physically protect myself against unwanted touching, or dancing with at least one eye open to look out for the safety of my fellow movers and shakers. Now that’s my idea of a good time! You know, not having to be in flight or fight mode while I shake my butt.

Later on in the evening, when my desire to continue dancing took me to another venue in the city, I was reminded that the ability to dance in peace was not something that I could expect everywhere I went. As a sweet bunch of Dance Dance Feminist Revolutionaries took up the dance floor, I immediately found myself the target of an individual who took it upon themselves to get all up in my face, touching me in ways that were not previously discussed and that I definitely did not consent to.

Whoa. Bubble burst.

After moving away and going “nu-uh” I proceeded to dance with a watchful eye as this person approached dancer after dancer, unconsensually  touched them, and then got rejected in one way or another, often after many attempts at getting rid of him. His lack of consent when initiating contact and then his willful ignorance of any kind of verbal or not verbal feedback of discomfort or disinterest was creeping me right out and I was starting to get darned pissed.

I looked around, wondering, is anyone else seeing this? Does anyone know this guy? Has someone talked to him already? Is this a place where this kind of shit is generally ignored/accepted?

At this point, I decided to approach this person to say “You really need to ask people before you touch them like that”. For the first time in, I don’t know, ten years, I was given a “talk to the hand” and an eye roll as they walked away from me. Yeah, I see you. Unbeknownst to me at the time, one of the people I had arrived with had simultaneously checked in with one of the woman he had just tried to ‘dance’ with, asking her if she was okay and if she wanted a buddy.   This was an encouraging part to a somewhat discouraging dance party part two. I’m glad that people were aware of the dynamics that were happening and were invested in addressing them.

Unwanted sexual touching is a form of sexual violence. When it happens out in the open on the dance floor, it’s no different, and it’s definitely not sexy. It can also feel really shitty and isolating when people see that it’s happening but don’t say anything. I also want to say, it’s not anyone’s job to be vigilant and on the defense in order to stay safe and have fun when they go out. Talk about a mood-buster. That person touching people without asking? It’s their responsibility.

Those who dance together, stick together! Everyone deserves to have fun on the dance floor. If you see someone looking really uncomfortable, ask them if they’re okay. If you see someone who is making people uncomfortable, touching people without asking, not stopping when asked, etc, talk to them! Tell them that what they’re doing isn’t okay, and that it’s not okay with you.

— Holly

Dance Dance Feminist Revolution

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Last Friday, we got our dance on, heard some amazing artists and raised some money for the United Way.

Thanks to all of the folks who came out, supported both the United Way and amazing women making music in our community!

We raised $$414.28 for the United Way Burlington and Greater Hamilton.

Thanks to all of the SACHA folks who helped out at the show — Ema, Andrea, Holly and Lenore.

Thanks to Homegrown Hamilton for hosting us in their space.  It means a lot to be able to have a space that is accessible, that has an incredible sound system and that is committed to creating community.

Thanks to Richard Laviolette for doing the sound.

Thanks to all of the bands — Dawn and Marra, Unfinished Business and Fortuna — who shared their amazing talent with us and that are creating awesome music.  Without you we have no rock show at all…

See you at the next rock show!

SACHA Support Line Volunteer Information Meeting

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Want to support survivors of sexual violence on SACHA’s 24-hour telephone line?

SACHA’s upcoming Crisis Support Volunteer training begins in February. We are holding an information evening about the program geared in particular towards the needs of women from the diverse communities, but everyone is welcome.

No need to RSVP.

For more information email clvol@sacha.ca or call: 905-525-4573
• Miriam – Support Line Coordinator – ext. 222
• Sandra – Diverse Communities Outreach Coordinator –  ext. 225

YWCA is an accessible space.

November/December Women’s Press

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As usual, there’s lots of good stuff in the most recent issue of the Immigrant Women’s Centre’s Women’s Press:

  • accessing health as a newcomer or refugee
  • dealing with grief
  • systems of care
  • the impact of Bill C-31 on Canada’s immigration system
  • resistance to refugee health cuts
  • can women succeed in the skilled trades?
  • sharing birthing stories
  • how does being a being a refugee affect your health?
  • film and book reviews

And McMaster University Social Work Student, Shahzi Bokhari, shares her experience of her first Take Back the Night:

TBTN reminds us as women that we are not just victims of our society, we are citizens who have the right and responsibility to make social change towards justice by standing in solidarity and supporting our fellow sisters. I did not expect that TBTN would be so thought-provoking or that it would impact me so profoundly.

There’s also a TBTN edition of ‘What Women Are Talking About’ that is totally worth checking out.  Amazing answers!  Thanks to all the TBTN participants who responded so thoughtfully!

‘What Women Are Talking About’ Women’s Press. Issue 18 — November/December 2012.

You can read the entire issue on the Women’s Press website or pick one up at SACHA’s office.

Where’ve You Been and Where You Going?

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Whoa. It’s been a while!

Pre-TBTN we didn’t have enough time to mention what fun we had participating in the labour day parade.  Thanks to Hamilton District Labour Council for organizing such an awesome time and to Public Service Alliance Canada for inviting us to march with them!

Post TBTN we got busy with some cool stuff:

  • Our coordinating committee got busy with wrap-up activities and talking about what went well and what we want to change for next year.
  • We got busy writing thank you notes to all of our amazing TBTN donors.
  • We spoke at YWCA and White Ribbon Campaign’s #respect conference for young men and women.
  • We hung out with White Ribbon Campaign and other allies as they launch the finding of a survey they did on over 1000 Ontario men’s values towards gender based violence.
  • We facilitated a workshop with Women Centre Volunteers about supporting survivors.
  • We chatted with folks taking Smart Serve training at the YWCA about sexual harassment and how folks can take action.
  • We went to a bunch of grade nine classes to talk about sexual assault, consent and healthy relationships.
  • We helped train some new support line volunteers in the dynamics of childhood and adult sexual assault.
  • We helped (with lots of other awesome Hamilton folks!) to bring Jessica Danforth to Hamilton to speak about the awesome work she is doing.

Busy!

There is some really exciting stuff coming up soon too:

Sooooo…. We’re back near our computers now and ready to get our blog on!

 
PS.  TBTN photos coming soon!