Content warnings: wall of text, issues females face in life, and the occasional foul word ahead, if those make you uncomfortable or you want to stay in your happy bubble that nothing bad ever happens in your community feel free to navigate away.
I just finished the LonestarPHP conference. Chris and Jake and the guys have done a fantastic job and the conference itself was really nice. Good food, good talks, fun things to do afterwards, a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones - A++ would visit again.
After the conference a group of friends (old and new) got together in the lobby of the hotel to play some silly games. Isn't it always after the conference when the bad stuff happens? When the code of conduct no longer applies and therefore you can just do and say whatever you want?
Those of you who know me personally know that I'm a bit irreverent (my son accuses me of acting like a fourteen year old boy a lot) And most things that are written off as "males behaving badly" don't bother me. They probably should but that desensitization is a story for another day.
So we're playing a silly game that I'm going to refer to afterwards as "Hipster Charades". The game was brought out by a guy I hadn't really met at the conference. And he was not acting in a way that would ever make me wish to be friends. I also hate myself a little bit because he said things to people walking through the lobby that were jaw dropping and I should have left right then, realizing the night would not go well. And as a group we should have confronted him over it. No, even jokingly calling someone a stranger a prostitute, even when drunk, is not acceptable. (Blaming it on playing a game so the boyfriend doesn't beat you up is even less so)
So hipster charades, like "Cards against Humanity" (if you've never played it, it's fun but might make some folks uncomfortable) it has prompts, sometimes irreverent or downright rude or vulgar ones. The difference though is instead of making a funny phrase and explaining why people should laugh (which is how Cards works) in this game you either act out something or talk about something. That makes it far more personal.
It was a marginally fun game. Many of the cards were too hard to be enjoyable, and many required "domain specific knowledge" in hipster or TV and Movies (neither of which I have) My turn came around and someone handed me a couple of cards. I read them... and promptly asked for my second set of cards.
Now, maybe I was just reading into things - but the guy passing out the cards (nope, not the same one who brought the game) said at first "no no, you have to do those two" and the grin on his face was reminiscent of the crap I'd get from frat boys in college. Ben was sitting down the couch and in his awesome way he explained that no, everyone got four cards total and picked two. Those were the rules. While the guy who was passing out cards was shaking his head and saying no no don't tell her that. Now, maybe it's just my logical mind, but if you didn't read the card beforehand and know what was on it, why would you try to get me to use the cards you handed to me instead of letting me pick from a set?
The card in my hand was - atrocious. "Eating pussy while wearing a bib" - really? Vulgar, silly and frankly incredibly easy. (Hint: Cunnilingus while donning an item of clothing babies or people eating lobsters wear would get you the answer)
But Cunnilingus is not something I talk about with anyone short of my spouse. I can get on board with standing up and making a fool of myself for fun, but that is not fun, it's designed to embarrass. So I went to pick up my second set of cards thinking that of course I'd pick whatever other card I got and we'd move on with the game.
Then the guy handing out cards (who shall remain nameless) went on about how in Cards against Humanity you explain why you wouldn't play a card. Now, just a minute. Everyone else got to pick two. No one else had to explain why they picked a different card. But it was late, I was tired, I don't do confrontation especially with people I don't know well. I have social anxiety and issues with others (because social issues tied to geekiness is not a mens only issue) I'd already used up my allotment of making myself uncomfortable with strangers for the week at the conference. And no one else sitting around the circle said anything which appeared to be tacit approval.
I started trying to explain that I don't talk about oral sex and tried asking frat boy if he'd feel comfortable standing up and talking about parts of his body, when I realized this was bologna. No woman should have to explain why she feels uncomfortable doing something, ever. I shouldn't have to follow rules that no one else did. And it hit me that he wanted me to have that card because it would embarrass me.
So I got up and left. I went back to my room, and packed, and cried for a bit, and a friend came up and I vented about life and went to bed.
But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like maybe my friends should have trusted my judgement enough that I wasn't getting upset for nothing, and that it was unfair for me to have to explain stuff when no one else did. And I now have yet another guy at a conference I will not go near. Which makes me sad.
Is this the worst thing that has ever happened to someone at a conference? No. Well then why bother ranting about it? Because it makes me sadly realize that there were 20 some people in that room who either weren't paying attention or didn't care when a female was singled out and made uncomfortable about her sexuality.
And what does it say about me that earlier that night someone else was called a prostitute by a drunk and I didn't do anything about it.
And that the first blog post I write in more than a year has to be about "Yes, someone acted like an asshat at a conference"
This, folks, is why we can't have nice things.