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Why We Need Female Party Spaces

In discussions with friends about why we need female party spaces, some of my male friends expressed that they didn’t think this was an issue at all. On the other hand, the girls to whom I mentioned this issue immediately nodded their heads enthusiastically at the topic.

I’m not here to criticize existing structures or say what needs to be done about it—other groups are spending time on that. I am here to make it clear why this topic is important to consider, especially as the physical makeup of our campus changes and awareness of Title IX issues increases. Before I go on, I’d like to make it clear that I am in full support of the fraternities that regularly host parties in the spaces they own! I enjoy having a fun party space that I can depend on, and I normally feel safe and welcomed there.

But many female friends of mine have expressed that they don’t always feel safe at parties in male-dominated spaces, such as the Old Kenyon lounges and fraternity lodges. This concern often dictates where we’re comfortable going when trying to plan our night. When my friends and I consider whether or not we want to go out, a big part of the consideration is how long we’ll stay. Will we walk back together? Are we interested in leaving with other people? These questions are part of a regular Friday or Saturday night discussion because we want to look out for each other and not let a good night turn into a bad one.

Another reason I want to go to a party hosted in a female-owned space is because I feel more comfortable mingling amongst a group of girls than a group of guys. My friends and I often feel that we can’t talk to a guy at a party without him assuming that we’re flirting. And if a guy is putting on unwanted advances, I feel like I have nowhere else to go if I can’t find other girls nearby to leave with or talk to. It’s easy to make decisions that can hurt someone’s feelings later, even if you’re doing so to latch onto the closest person who makes you feel safe.

The essential problem is this: when I go to a party hosted by a male group, especially as the party thins out, I feel pressured to pair off with someone. If I’m at a party thrown by a fraternity, the guys in the organization will still be hanging around in groups, but most of the girls have left or are with a guy. I would love to be able to go to a party knowing that I have a support system of girls who can help make sure I get home okay or just be someone I can talk to if I need to get away from the party for a moment.

My fellow HCK writer Lily Alig pointed out that female party spaces would also help to legitimize the sororities on campus. Parties aren’t everything, but they’re a huge part of bringing people together socially and making student groups visible. This is obviously not something that can be solved by one group or one person. For example, one of the obstacles met by sororities in throwing all-campus parties is the fact that they lack the physical space to do so. Sororities need to be given some power in their social activity on campus.

However, more than anything, the student body (and particularly the female student body) needs to get a conversation started. If you agree that female-owned party spaces need to exist, start talking about it. We need to get to the point where our guy friends aren’t saying, “Why are you even talking about this? This isn’t important.” It is important. We all—regardless of sexuality or gender—deserve to have a space where we know we can have fun and feel comfortable. Currently, Kenyon has fewer of those spaces than it maybe should.

 

Image Credit: Alive Campus, Indiewire, Cinema Blend, YouTube

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