This is a guest post by TA members Emily, Nicky, and Dawn*.
Don’t be a shitty person. One of the reasons I fell in love with this community was the awesome people. It’s unfortunate that a few people in the TA ruin this experience and make others feel unsafe. Some of our founding bricks are acceptance and to spread the love. No one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable at a sporting event, during a goal celebration or otherwise. Keep your hands, hugs, beers, stuffed birds, and kisses to yourself unless you have permission. Use the Platinum Rule: treat everyone how you would want to be treated, but better.
Don’t be shocked or naïve that these things are happening. We’ve been trying to tell men that harassment happens almost on a daily basis, practically everywhere (our texts, pics or uninvited DMs, social media and in real life, possibly right in front of you). This harassing toxic behavior is perpetrated by people you like, maybe friends you know, or quite possibly even you. We are tired of hearing things like “He just likes to hug too much”, “He gets handsy when he drinks”, “Oh that guy, he kisses everyone when he’s happy”. No matter what we hear, whatever the excuses for the behavior, it’s not OK.
This is a BIG FUCKING DEAL. For all the lamenting we do about preserving TA Culture™, there has been a shocking amount of apathy when it comes to this shit. The amount of people who could name multiple offenders in the TA (including TA leadership) and know that this is ongoing, without having done anything about it, is damning, and if left unaddressed it will literally actually ruin TA culture (more so than bad corporate merch or eliminating chants ever could). It already has, to a certain extent – ruined the TA culture. There needs to be a seismic shift in the way we deal with this.
Speaking up when someone harasses you is hard and uncomfortable. It’s not always that easy to remove yourself from the situation. A lot of times if someone has been harassed or victimized they just want to get out of the situation. Plus, it feels shameful. It takes time to come forward, it takes time to come forward to someone you trust, and it takes time to be sure the person you trust is your ally.
Stop telling women “You should have…" or "Next time, you should do this”. Take a step back and start listening, switch your mindset to “I’m thinking about what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again”. Start having uncomfortable discussions with your friends when you see something. Call out a fellow ‘TA’ when you see this behavior.
It’s frustrating to be living in what feels like a broken system. There’s a lot of work to do to help fix it, like having nonviolent bystander intervention training or identifying the safe places/people for reporting harassment, always asking permission before you assume someone wants to be hugged, and maybe one of the easiest is for you to just speak up when you see it. Our society is a mess, but together if we all work to be better, do better, we can get back to being the community filled with awesome people that care about one another.
*Dawn is a 107IST board member, but here is writing as an individual supporter.