Five ways bartenders are changing the world

26th November, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers



The drinks industry is breaking its silence on sexual harassment in bars

Irresponsible alcohol consumption and inappropriate behaviour are often seen to go hand in hand. After the tsunami of sexual misconduct allegations in various industries and the advance of the #MeToo campaign that highlighted the ubiquity of sexual abuse, bartenders and bar owners have ramped up their efforts to make their venues safer and more inclusive.

This year, TOTC partnered with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), a Louisiana non-­profit organisation that provides support and education to those affected by sexual trauma. The festival also provided a 24-­hour hotline to report sexual violence and held a seminar on the issue.

Safe Bars, a Washington DC-­based firm that launched in 2016, holds two-­hour bystander-intervention training for bar staff with the goal of creating a safer and more welcoming nightlife culture.

“Bars are such a core part of culture, so much happens there,” Lauren Taylor, co-­founder and director of Safe Bars, says. “Bartenders are perfectly positioned to make a change in the culture of their establishment and affect the greater good as well. The training includes information about the whole spectrum of sexual violence, from key things like how to deal with unwanted staring, to sexual assault and everything in between. We talk about how it happens, introduce a framework for intervention with either the person who’s being targeted or the person who’s doing the aggression.”

Safe Bars deals with harassment “in any direction”, whether its patron on patron, patron on staff, staff on staff, or staff on patron. The “hands-­on” programme has expanded beyond Washington, with ‘Train the Trainer’ schemes taking place in cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland, as well as its first programme outside of the US in Nova Scotia, Canada. Taylor is also working on a code of conduct “that individual establishments can adopt and adapt to their places”.

Taylor notes there is “clearly a need” for the programme, adding that bars are becoming more active in the face of the #MeToo movement. “It’s a strategy that people feel really comfortable with adapting,” she says.

One Response to “Five ways bartenders are changing the world”

  1. Hello Nicola,
    Thank you for this article. For so many years there has been a stigma associated with bartending responsibly. Alcohol promotes many behavior changes. First inhibitions are lowered. We over serve our customers and they become vulnerable to suggestions and sadly, predators. The creativity, attention to detail and rise of the activist bartender is refreshing. However, the conflict with management directives to ring up the cash register for the almighty dollar grab may interfere. I hope not.

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