July 6, 2012

“V.I.P”

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:21 pm by sacetalks

It was one small thing after another, but before I knew it, I was spewing off into a wild rant! Typically when I go on vacation, I try to not let myself be bothered by differing practices or attitudes, as I know mine tend to conflict with many. While in Vegas this past week however, doing so was next to impossible. It all began with Vegas’ infamous word; ‘VIP’. My friends and I were standing in line (just as any person should) for a nightclub, when a well-dressed man came up to a few women nearby and offered their group ‘VIP’. They were instantly whisked to the front of the line, placed next to other well-dressed men and women, and told that they would not have to pay any cover charge. “What? How did that happen? Did you guys book that”, my friends asked? “No dummy, girls just don’t have to pay in Vegas, we are VIP”, explained the young woman – I was still puzzled as I looked around and noticed other groups of girls waiting patiently at the back of the line. I wondered to myself if these “VIP” women felt at all awkward for receiving such treatment.
Later that week, we were soaking up the sun at a pool party, when I was really set off. As I was walking back from paying $14.00 for one measly drink, I had a male yell out at me “*whistle whistle*, Damnnnn girl, you should be topless, take it off!!” It took absolutely everything in me to not throw my $14.00 drink in his face after being sexually harassed like that, but instead, I bit my tongue and scurried back to my seat. After being brushed off by my friends that this was customary, and really ‘no big deal’, I resumed back to having a good time, but this only lasted so long. Later that afternoon, at the same pool party, I overheard two women having the following conversation in the washroom:
Female 1:“Umm… Ok, that guy totally just grabbed my ass on the way here!!”
Female 2: “Well ya, what do you expect? We’ve been hanging out in their cabana and they have been buying us drinks all day!”
That did it right there! I was blown away; not only were men feeling a sense of entitlement over women’s bodies simply because of the money they were spending, but women were now expecting and even ACCEPTING this behavior!

I spotted similar events the rest of the weekend, and each time I grew to dislike Vegas more and more. Don’t get me wrong, the city is filled with neat and exciting places, and can be an amazing time, but the culture just makes me sick! For the pretty and the privileged, the red carpet is rolled out wherever they may go, and for the rest of the world, they are left to sizzle in the desert heat – literally! Most of all, I loathe the sense of entitlement people, and especially men, feel while in Vegas, simply because of the ridiculous amount of money they are dropping on ‘VIP’ this or that! It is understandable that constant ‘VIP’ status will get to people’s heads, but when it goes so far as to provide people with a feeling of power over another person’s body, that’s when I draw the line. And unfortunately, it was impossible to get away from. This culture pollutes the entire city, whether it is nightclubs, restaurants, pool parties, or hotels.
It was clear in my mind that this environment was ripe for sexual assault. All I could think about was the amount of sexual assault that took place in Las Vegas on a daily basis. Just as this twisted culture was infiltrating and consuming Vegas, these thoughts were consuming my mind. By day three, I actually had to have a sit down with myself and take some time to reflect; I came to recognize, that not only are we unable to live in a world where our ideals are often not met, but at certain times, we must allow personal flexibility of these strong ideals, if we are to happily survive each day. This should not be a sign that we are any less feminist, or any less credible, but simply, that we are humans who deserve to have fun and be happy, wherever we may be. Personally, I don’t like taking off my ‘feminist hat’ all too often, but without doing so, the steam from my ears was going to blow it off anyways!

Looking back on it now, when I visited Vegas three years ago, I did not have these same feelings. Yes, I still experienced that ‘icky’ feeling from all the rich older men trying to buy my company through expensive drinks and such, but I was not as agitated by it, and I failed to recognize certain comments and gestures as sexual harassment or assault. I am not sure if I owe it to my education, my work experience, or simply my maturity – whatever the case, I am proud that I see Vegas in the way that I do now. Some may say having such an outlook ‘ruins’ places such as Vegas, but if having my eyes opened to the reality of this city’s culture has ‘ruined’ it, then so be it. I am extremely grateful for my own perspective, and I hope I have extended this view to my friends and family. I am not saying I will never visit Vegas again, as there are many amazing things to see, but from this point on I will definitely see the city for what it is, and approach it in a different manner.
I want to know about the rest of you; have you had similar experiences? Have you noticed that your outlook on many topics has shifted, or completely changed in any way since beginning work, school, or becoming active in, feminist related fields? If so, please feel free to share, I would love to hear your stories. I look forward to blogging with all of you, thanks for reading!
Hala