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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Breaking Bridge

Hannah Lund criticises Bridge’s policies concerning the protection of women.

CW: Sexual assault.

Women want to be able to look and feel good when going on a night out and not be sexually assaulted. Fun fact: the two actually are not mutually exclusive!

From a woman’s perspective, Bridge only has sexual assault strategies to tick security boxes and to keep their female customers coming. Bridge needs rules that would actually support and help their female customers, not exclude them further and in no way help the issue. Maybe starting with training their staff not to grab women…

After a long night bopping, I headed for the exit thinking only about whether I should get cheese or garlic mayo on my chips from McCoys. I asked the bouncers at the exit to open the metal gates so I could be let out, but not before one managed to get a firm feel of my firm behind, while I struggled to push this lump of a man off me. The issue wasn’t helped by the (at least four) other bouncers watching him who did not stop smiling or laughing for a second to get him off me. It is easier to be satirical, and I know it helps me to talk about it, but on a serious note I cannot see any way in which his action could be justified, and believe me, I have thought it through a lot. He was in a position of power, and abused that power by feeling up a drunk, alone girl.  

Fast forward a few weeks and I had finally regrown my lady balls (and third year effort) enough to return to Bridge for a college bop. While ‘Bad Bitch Behaviour’ provides many superpowers, drunk bladder control is sadly not one, so I recruited my (male) friend to come to the toilet with me. Now I could have gone to the bathroom alone, however being alone in a club I was recently assaulted in didn’t really appeal to me. Pee complete, we returned to Spirit together to regain our status of ‘not-boring third years’, only to be immediately kicked out of the club by a male bouncer. Apparently, my friend and I were a threat to the people in Bridge as I could have been sexually assaulted by my friend. As you may know, there is no gender-neutral bathroom in bridge, so my options to feel safe and to go to the bathroom were limited.

I justified our joint toilet trip using ‘Grope-Gate’, only for the bouncer to reply, “well I’ve not heard about this so that doesn’t matter here”. Their resolution to the incident was to kick me out the club, with nobody else there or to walk home with none other than the man they said could have just abused me in the bathroom. That evening, Bridge said that my sexual assault, which occurred in their venue, “didn’t matter” and I was yet again put at risk and made to feel vulnerable by the actions of their staff. I get angry at the fact that Bridge act like the biggest threat to me in their venue is myself and my friends, rather than their own staff. 

I work hard both physically and mentally to have a body that I feel confident in. So not only do I love feeling and looking drastically better than my mid-lecture, half-asleep state, but I also bloody love seeing my female friends out in the club looking confident too. Sequin covered tops. Short cut skirts. Low cut tops to get the ‘ladies’ out. High slit skirts which would make my Nanna say, “oh love, do you need to borrow a needle and thread?”. EXQUISITE. Nights out should be about being able to dress up however you want to and feel confident and safe enough to go out with friends, get a bit too tiddled and have fun. Half of the student body is excluded from this privilege, simply because they have so many more aspects of a night out to consider and worry about than most men. 

Bridge does not actually care about how women are treated in their venue; they advertise these ‘protective’ strategies as a way to tick boxes and make women believe they are at a safe venue and continue to buy tickets. My truth is that Bridge could not give two hoots about the welfare and security of their female guests. Bridge needs to improve their security strategy, perhaps starting by teaching the people they hire what sexual assault is, and that women don’t actually want to be felt up by a random man. I do wonder if Bridge has surveyed female students to see what would actually make them feel safe and supported in a club.

I can guarantee that even I will be back in Bridge sooner or later, albeit glaring at the bouncers a little bit harsher and holding in a wee so I don’t get kicked out or left alone feeling unsafe. So, if you see me bopping in my favourite low-cut top and trousers that fit *just right*, just know it is a very strong act of feminism.

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