Your behaviour is unacceptable

Your behaviour is unacceptable

Trigger warning: attempted sexual abuse and sexual acts.

Disclaimer: I am not out to cancel these people (hence the lack of identifiable details) [1]
Instead of their names, I want their behaviour to be highlighted, and if indeed deemed as inappropriate, then see that behaviour (theirs) changed for the future, and be a teaching (“how not to”) moment for us.

There was a tour I did, years ago.
One that I felt miserable on, and it was not strictly work related; no music that was unpalatable, no gear that kept breaking down, no travelling that was too brutal.

It was due to one of the band members’ and one crew member’s misogynist, entitled, and inappropriate behaviour. Names are not important, crew and band members have since changed. There are no details disclosed in this story that could point to a certain band or crew member.

The only important thing about what I am about to disclose, is that this kind of behaviour needs to be called out.
Every single time.
We all need to.
For the ease of reading, I shall call these two people John and Mike respectively.
One of the other band members, not showing this behaviour, I’ll call Dave.

I find some solace in the fact that, to my knowledge, no people other than myself were abused or taken advantage of (assuming the bartender on the bus had consensual sex with Mike), but I am going to remain upset with myself for not being able to do something about it, there and then. As a reminder to myself, to do better tomorrow.

Three very clear episodes of inappropriate behaviour stood out to me, and will continue to.

In hindsight I feel terrible about not having reacted in a more definite and oppositional manner, but as I grew stronger and more ‘me’, I managed to find a bare minimum of solace in the fact that I could not fight for myself then, let alone, fighting against injustice that was done to others, and inappropriate behaviour that was aimed at others.

What I could not do and say then, I can, and will, today and tomorrow.

The first episode happened about halfway through the tour. The local light engineer was a young woman. I had noticed her, as did we all. I don’t think it’s wildly inaccurate to state that she was most probably the first woman on local staff for one of our shows not being in catering or office.
She wore a band T-shirt that she’d cut open in the back and tied more tightly around her waist. I took notice of that fact, and I went about my day the way I’d usually do; all work and no play; while I continually spotted the band and rest of the crew swarming around her like bears to honey.

When the show ended, that scenario repeated itself; the local stagehands and myself getting all the gear out & into the trailer, while the band and crew seemed to have played leapfrog to get to the light engineer first.

By the time I was done, all of them were either shooting pool in the bar, or having a drink, and for some reason, the light engineer asked me if I wanted to team up with her; they were playing doubles, and for some reason she wanted another/new? partner; I gladly but also kind of shyly obliged.

After a while, she asked if I’d join her to go for a walk behind the venue, along the railroad tracks. I don’t remember any more what we ended up talking about, but I do remember us walking for over an hour, holding hands, sitting on a bench somewhere halfway. And we kissed. Consensual.

Some time later, we got back to the tour bus, and I was asked to come to the back lounge, where Mike, John and some of the others were chilling. The weirdest interrogation took place there:

“And, did you fuck her?!?!”
“No.”
“Why not?!?!?”
“Why?! Should I have?”
“Yes, you should have. You saw how she was dressed, she was gagging for it. And if you had no plans to fuck her, you should have left her to us!”

“…”
(Silence from my end, I was flabbergasted.)
“From now on, you’re no longer allowed to talk with women unless either we’re done with them, or we still don’t think they’re fuckable after we’ve had some drinks. And if you do, we’re sending you home!”
“… Fine with me.” (This all sounded so surreal to me, I could not even think of what else to respond with)

How a woman chooses to dress, can never, ever, ever, be a mitigating factor or a valid defense of inappropriate behaviour (or sexualising and objectifying that woman) as pretext for said inappropriate (sexual) behaviour you are engaging in.
A woman may simply dress the way she likes without ever needing to feel like she’s tempting fate, or you, about to get sexually abused.
Dressing a certain way is not the equivalent of an invitation or dare or temptation. Do not mistake a certain way of dressing as soliciting or enticing, for you to then act on as if you were merely obliging.

Literally, next day, as we got into our next venue, when Mike heard he’d not be needing to work that day due to a local regulations, he’d started chatting up two of the bartenders while ordering drink after drink.
After the show was done and the trailer packed, and I had returned from the shower room at a hotel around the corner, I saw one of the bartenders sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the venue’s wall. She was clearly waiting for her friend, on the tourbus. While I was getting my washbag in the bay, she spoke to me; we then talked for a bit; talking about her studying literature and wanting to become a writer.

All of a sudden, the tour bus door slams open, and Mike starts yelling at me from the doorway, foaming at the mouth with anger.
“What the @#$%^ are you doing?!?! What’d I tell you? No more talking to women, or you’re going home! Right! You’re going home tomorrow.”
Guess who came to the rescue? The bartender who was on the bus with Mike.
“Dude, what’s wrong with you?!?! Can’t you see they are just talking outside the bus while you were fucking me?!?!”

I was ordered back on the bus, and while Mike was having a go at me, Dave actually stepped in and punched Mike out cold. The next day, both of them apologised; Dave more profusely so.
Suffice to say, I was not sent home.
I wish I had been, though. I could no longer take this.

The last episode involved the same people again; Dave had invited his niece and her boyfriend over for the show, and gave them a tour of the bus afterwards. I have some gaps in my memory of what happened when and how, and who did what exactly, but at a certain point, Mike and John tried to get Dave’s niece to stay on the bus, while they managed to lock her boyfriend outside of the bus.

This could only end up with the girl getting raped. Dave, who had been off the bus for a while (getting something to eat from outside?) returned, and as the situation escalated quickly, as what was about to happen became obvious, between Dave and I, we managed to get the girl off the bus, and somehow defused the situation.

I was getting paid weekly, and to date, I never got paid for that last week’s worth of shows. About two weeks after this tour ended, we were going to go do more touring, and we had already discussed plans for the rest of the year and when to apply for which visa.
When I got home, I simply told the band I would not be available.

I wish I had shown more guts then, for actually calling them out on their behaviour, and tell them why I’d not be available (me not wanting to tour with misogynistic, entitled, men displaying this kind of behaviour), but I came up with the lame excuse that my home was going to get major emergency repairs done to my home, and that I’d need to be home to make sure all would remain safe and dry.

Instead, I am calling them out now, here, with this post.

As I wrote earlier: I find some solace in the fact that, to my knowledge, no people other than myself were abused or taken advantage of (assuming the bartender on the bus had consensual sex with Mike), but I am going to remain upset with myself for not being able to do something about it, there and then. As a reminder to myself, to do better tomorrow.


1. : I look to Jacinda Ardern for inspiration for her vowing to never say the name of the Christchurch terrorist: “I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”