"You're out with your friends and you wanna have a good time but there's a guy there who decides he's entitled to touch you."
Mica Grimm has been going to Twin Cities clubs and dance parties for years. She told GoMN that she and her friends agree that the issue is getting worse.
"Just really aggressive dudes. Guys grabbing butts or not taking no for an answer. It's been a huge problem."
That's why Grimm was happy to help her friend Taylor Madrigal, who organizes events under the name DJ Tiiiiiiiiiip, develop a manifesto that tries to take a stand against harassment.
Called the Nightlife Safety Initiative, it's a list of ten commitments (read them here) Madrigal has promised to make at his events to help everyone feel safe and comfortable.
He's sharing it with other event organizers and venues in hopes it will catch on. Those who have agreed to the safety initiative are encouraged to post the infographic at their parties.
A quiet problem
Madrigal said he was unaware of harassment happening at his shows until he noticed a Facebook exchange between two women talking about how unsafe they felt.
"I felt bad," he said. "The gears started turning and I said 'If this is happening and I don't know about it, that's a problem.'"
If you're not on the receiving end of the harassment, it's easy to be oblivious to it because it doesn't get talked about in the open much. Grimm said venues generally don't want to draw attention to the problem. And while women commiserate about it among themselves, she says they're reluctant to bring the issue out publicly.
"Women are afraid to come out because they're afraid they'll get blamed for what they wore that night or they'll get blamed for going out drinking or whatever."
What's in the Initiative?
Grimm said it's important to her that "eliminate victim blaming" is one of the 10 guidelines in the Nightlife Safety Initiative.
Others include making escorts available to accompany people out of the venue and publicizing a number people can text if they feel threatened or see something going wrong.
It also calls for a "guardian system" that involves staff scanning the crowd for any bad situations, which Madrigal said is different from what most paid security guards are doing.
"A lot of times venue security isn't actually securing the people at the event, they're securing the venue – making sure nothing gets broken, no one is messing up the event space."
He acknowledged that committing to the Safety Initiative means more work for organizers. In Madrigal's case, he's taken on some interns to help with his security while he's busy DJing. "There are people who'd be willing to help out with this, maybe in exchange for free cover," he said.
Will it catch on?
Mica Grimm says if event organizers want to be successful – and want to have women at their shows – the Initiative will catch on. Or at least some version of it will.
She pointed to the success of the Klituation parties at First Avenue, which were created to celebrate women in hip-hop. They've created a culture that "keeps the creeps out," Grimm says, and she thinks the shows are so popular because when people feel truly safe they can be themselves and have more fun.
Madrigal said that as he shares the Initiative with event organizers he makes clear they're welcome to make changes to it to fit their needs. "We want (them) to see it, understand that it would help, and figure out how they're going to implement it."