In 2016, the UK introduced an initiative to help keep women safe in venues and bars in the Lincolnshire area. It was just a matter of asking a bar staff for Angela and they could be removed from a dangerous situation. Now asking Angela has been adopted in some areas in Australia.
Whilst I think it’s important to be looking at ways to protect all people not just women when out drinking at venues, I’m fearful that this statement might not be as effective and also in turn cause more issues for men and women.
In a moment, thanks to media, we will see this initiative pushed around news outlets and even myself blogging about it adds to its coverage. This might be a good thing with women now knowing they can call out for Angela when they are in need, but men also read too. If you ask for help or ask for Angela, is there a difference? If we were worried about women asking for help due to fear of the man in question becoming aggressive, if he now knows that asking for Angela means the same thing, does this really make a difference?
And what about the bar staff. What happens if someone is new, hasn’t gone through training, if our government doesn’t make it mandatory, if someone is having a bad night? A request for Angela might not be completely understood. I would much rather tell the bar staff that I was in trouble or needed help rather than run the risk of asking for Angela and them either finding someone working at the venue called Angela (which lest face it could happen) or look at my blankly with those moments finding clarify being detrimental to my immediate safety if need be.
But are we also disempowering women with this one request? On a graphic from the UK it had statements such as, “Are you on a date that isn’t working out?” and “Is your Tinder date not who they said they were on their profile?” Are we actually telling women that under these circumstances they can’t speak up but have to ask for Angela instead? If you are on a bad date, teach women to stand up and leave. If a guy rocks up and isn’t who he said he is, teach women to confront him. And lets also make it loud and clear that women can and should ask for help no matter what the circumstances are.
What does this also say about men? We do have a victim of the me-too movement at the moment and that’s innocent men. I say innocent because I can’t say that all men are innocent. But there is this feeling that all men are sexual predators that women need protection from and I fear that a campaign like this might add into that feeling. Women need protection from some men and need to be taught how to stand up for themselves to others whilst also having respect those boundaries and requests. We are killing modern day chivalry and sexual advances because everyone is scared of doing something wrong, but why don’t we try and start teaching what is right instead of asking for Angela?
Sexual harassment has always been an issue for women, it’s just that we are hearing about it more in the public eye (thank goodness for media sometimes). But I don’t think spending money on a campaign telling women to ask for Angela on a bad date is the best move. Let’s spend that money and time on teaching boundaries, telling women how to express those and men how to respect them. And at venues where alcohol is served, why don’t we ensure there is clearly marked security and processes by staff to ensure those consuming alcohols and on dates are kept safe.
I was once in a situation where alcohol was heavily consumed and a man decided is was ok to sexually harass me. I couldn’t speak out as we were in a confined area and I was worried that if he heard me ask for help and I couldn’t be helped that things would get worse. Someone working in this area came past to ask me if I was ok and all I could do was try and give her a look as a said “ok”. Angela would have not kept me safe at that moment, but a staff member that was trained on how to not only spot situations like this but how to handle them better could have. Maybe that’s where we need to start instead of all asking for Angela.
Whilst it’s great we are seeing a response and there is motivation to make a change, I’m sorry but I feel like asking Angela is not the right move.