“So I’m on the dance floor minding my own business and then there it goes – the all too familiar feeling of a stranger’s hand creeping up the side of my jeans [...] and then the start of his dry conversation,” says Lynette Nylander in Common Misconceptions, a four minute film about sexual harassment in nightclubs, directed by Margot Bowman. The two friends identified strongly with an article they read in Rave Ethics on the subject – a zine created by Ursula Xanadu about the highs, lows, and misogyny of rave culture – and adapted it for film, which premiered this week at Sounds Like London, the music project between Boiler Room and London mayor Sadiq Khan spotlighting female talent and female experience in the industry.
The film is a refreshing, upfront portrait of the Saturday night gender gap and the multiple situations that girls have just gotten used to navigating for the sake of a night out. The line “Get the hint, I’m ignoring you on purpose” so perfectly sums up the experience – of having to stare intently at your friends while dancing, afraid of catching that creepy guy’s eye who’s lurking behind you with no friends of his own. Or having to pull out your phone and look down at the bar, even though that’s the worst way to get served, because otherwise that creepy guy will mistake your waiting to be served as you waiting to be chatted up.
Lynette and Margot identify these behaviours as ‘micro-aggressions’, but so often they escalate into macro-aggressions. When the girl in the film (written and narrated by Lynette) returns to the dance floor, she feels a hand on her back and hears a man's voice in her ear: “I’ve been watching you all night”. When she says she’s not interested, the voice changes tact “What you being a bitch for?” To which she replies “It would have been nice if you’d asked and not assumed I wanted my leg dry-humped”. It happens all the time.
Common Misconceptions is intended to educate those guys (and their friends) about how these so-called chat up lines actually feel for girls. “I want to be clear, approaching someone you like at a club is completely acceptable,” the films says, “just pick your moment”. Margot and Lynette want to emphasise that there are plenty of ways to respectfully approach someone you like in a club – "we wanted to bring the issue to light in a way that didn't feel preachy," Lynette told Refinery29, "but that felt like offering a solution – and begged for a bit of introspection before you act in that setting." It's the female voice rave culture needs.