June 6, 2016
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
Columbia, South Carolina.
How long have you been in New Orleans?
Three and a half years now.
In what capacity would you say you are a part of the music community of New Orleans?
I’ve been with my venue literally since I moved here and now know so many people throughout the music community. If I go anywhere where there is music playing, I usually know a good amount of people working there or playing because I’ve done their guest lists for them.
Do you remember being told or taught anything growing up about your behavioral expectations as a girl?
My mom was really great and really strong. So to her, you could do anything a boy could do. Those lines were never defined for me in that way and she pretty much raised me by herself. If you want to do it, do it. She never said you can’t do something because you’re a girl. Except for walking by yourself. Not being able to walk alone by ourselves is still a very big reality for women. But outside of using a buddy system and being aware of where you’re drink is, I was never told I couldn’t do anything.
I think a lot of people assume that being a bouncer is a man’s job. Have you experienced any judgments like that?
I feel like I get it more from people who aren’t involved with the venue. The general manager is a woman and I am not the only female on the door staff. Women are viewed as equal parts there. But when you tell other people that you’re working the door...sometimes they don’t even have to say anything, it’s in their face. “You’re a girl. What happens if something happens? Do you know karate?” That’s the question I get because I guess I have to know karate. “Do you do like jiu jitsu or something?” No. My vagina doesn’t prevent me from removing someone if I need to remove somebody. They always look shocked.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
It’s about not feeling the same amount of worth. It is always assumed that a male has more worth or that a male’s solution or idea is going to more of a solution than my solution to a problem. The sentiment is, “Shhh. Be pretty.” I’ve had bosses that ask you for something, you make it happen, and then they go to the boy anyway and ask for the same thing. I think, “He’s an idiot. Why are you talking to him?” That’s where I find sexism the most. But it also exists in not being able to do certain things because you have to fear for your own safety. I can’t walk to my car by myself after I get off work because it’s not safe for me to do that in this world. If I go to Walmart at 3pm, I need to be paying attention to everyone around me. You can’t ever feel safe and it’s because you’re a woman. I will kick your ass but I’ve also seen CSI and I’m not trying to die. It’s just not a safe world for us ever. It’s a very fine line because I feel very strong in my ability but I still like chivalry. I still like it someone holds the door open but I don’t see it as a man holding the door open for a woman. I see it as a human to human interaction and that’s really nice. Obviously I can open my own door! It’s just nice when someone else does it for you. It’s really smart to take people up on an offer to walk you to your car. Not because I can’t go to my car alone but because it’s not safe to do so. The other night, I had a guy following me around Ms. Mae’s and every time I turned around, he staring at me. So of course when I went to leave, I asked one of my friends to walk me to my car. I’m not going to walk down the dark street to my car when this guy is following me around the bar.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Sometimes it makes me feel belittled but sometimes it makes me feel empowered. Because anything you can do I can do better and I’ll prove it to you. I’ve always had that attitude. Tell me I can’t do it. That goes for anything. There are moments when it gives you that pang in the gut and it makes you feel bad about yourself for a second but I also find it’s like gasoline. Oh yeah? You think I can’t do it? Watch me. I literally only had a job tell me they weren’t going to hire me because I was woman.
What kind of job was it?
I was a porter. I would unload and load the Uhauls for special events. I would load up boxes of wine, kitchen stuff, pots and pans into a Uhaul and then unload it at the event. I’ve moved into a house before, I think I can handle it. But they said they didn’t want to hire me because I was a woman and they said it to my face.
Did they end up hiring you?
I told them “Let me come work one shift and if you think I’m not capable to do the job then you don’t have to hire me.” Then I ended up working with them for a good while after that.
Was there any conversation about it again?
It seemed to be one of their favorite topics of conversation because at the time I weighed like 120 pounds. The tide turned from them not thinking I could do it but there was still that level of shock all the time. Here’s this little blonde girl that can actually carry a box by herself. She can carry the box AND put it in the truck? No one has to help her? They were very surprised I could handle it.
Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?
I think I pick up on it. I think women always pick up on it though. Except now you can say, “Fuck off. Are you for real right now?” But it can get tricky in work situations because is it your employer. How comfortable do you feel with your employer? How much do you like your job? It’s sad that that’s the case but we’ve all been there. You want to say “Screw you,” but you can’t because you want to remain employed.
I haven’t always spoken back. I’ve brushed it off or internalized it. But I was also subconsciously denying the fact that I let men or my friends who are men say those things to me. I had a friend say to “Katie Sik Photo…Katie Sik Hoe-to!” and I froze. I know I should have said something but my first thought was “How do I say something to a group of men that are already laughing at that?”
We’re told to. We’re told to sit down. That’s just been the attitude toward women for so long. Be seen not heard. We don’t need to hear your opinion. Just smile and nod.
There have been situation when I’ve been able to say that something was fucked up. But there have also been situations where I didn’t do anything and I accepted it. It’s hard to admit that to myself.
You can’t change every single person that you meet. Some people are literally going to be that way for the rest of their life and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I have a hard time walking away from it.
Especially when it’s something I find offensive, I have a really hard time drawing that line and saying “You know what, you’re going to be who you are and you’re not my responsibility.” Which is also something that I’m learning. Other people are not my responsibility. But seeing evil and doing nothing about it makes you just as evil. There’s a difference between walking away because you understand that some people are just going to be that way and walking away because you don’t want to get involved. There was a guy outside of Ms. Mae’s a couple weeks ago referring to all the black people inside as negroes and saying it over and over again. And when I asked if he was fucking serious his excuse was that it’s diction.
You’re going to pull the word diction out on me and think that’s going to stop my opinion?
It’s a terrible argument. That doesn’t make it not racist. You’re right, it is a word, that’s correct. Where’d you go, Tulane?
How old was he?
He was probably in his late 20s, early 30s and he felt entitled to that word. But if you graduated from college you should know that a) that’s racist and b) just because it’s a word doesn’t mean it’s an ok word to call somebody. The f-word is one of my most hated words. I don’t even like to say it. Just because it’s a word doesn’t mean you can call a gay person that. That doesn’t make it ok to do that. Yes, it’s a word, you’re correct. But it doesn’t make it any less degrading. I’ll own the fact that I’m a bitch. I’m a strong female and if that makes me a bitch then I’m cool with that.
Have you seen that old Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sketch where they say, “Yeah, she’s a bitch. Because—“
Bitches get shit done! If being a bitch correlates with me being a strong female who is not going to let you run all over me and who is going to stand up for myself, then yeah, I’m a fucking bitch. I’m a raging bitch. I want you to understand that I’m not going to apologize for standing up for myself and not taking your shit. There was a guy at the venue who pushed me against the cash register to try to kiss me. I blocked him and [my boss] jumped over the counter and yelled “Get the fuck off of her. You need to leave.” Then his brother came up and told us “Y’all don’t need to be such bitches.” You, a man I don’t know, just forcefully invaded my space and tried to kiss me on my mouth while I’m working. His brother came back eventually and apologized for his brother and I thought, you should be sorry about yourself too. You’re rude. If I had seen a male friend do that to somebody, I literally don’t know if I’d be friends with them anymore.
Instead of having this conversation with me, have a conversation with your brother about how fucked up that is. I remember shooting at Bourbon Heat one time and I was observing and figuring out what I wanted to shoot and this guy came up and he was like right next to me. I don’t even remember what the fuck he was saying. But I wasn’t responding and I switched sides of the room probably four times and he just followed.
Why do people do that? Do you know what it reminds me of? Did you ever watch Hey Arnold! as a kid? Do you remember how Stinky was always right behind Helga just breathing disgustingly loud? Do you know what I’m talking about? That’s what guys like that remind me of. You almost forget that they’re there and then you turn around and there they are.
I turned around and said, “Dude. I’m not interested.” And he said “I’m not trying to hit on you, I just wanted to talk to you. You’re mean.” And I said, “Does that mean you’ll leave me alone now?”
It shouldn’t be expected that I have to talk to anybody that wants to talk to me. I went on my lunch break to a bar and sat down to eat my food. I pulled out my book to read while I was on my lunch break since I was by myself and a guy walked over to immediately hit on me and said, “So what are you reading, Fifty Shades of Grey? Twilight?” Even the bartender stopped and looked at him. I get it, because I have a vagina that is the only possible thing I could want to read or be interested in or even understand. I told him I was reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. He asked me what it was about and I said “It’s a book about a guy who keeps bothering a girl at a bar and so she kills him in cold blood on the bar.” And he still didn’t pick up on it! I’m allowed to go to a bar and sit by myself and have a beer. I’m allowed to play on my phone if I want to. I am allowed to sit at the bar by myself paying for my beer with my money that I worked for at my job that I got by myself. And I’ve got the right to do that without you feeling like you are justified to come over and talk to me. “What, do you want me to leave you alone?” Yes, that’s exactly what I want. That’s really what I want. I only have 45 minutes for this break and you’ve wasted 10. “You didn’t come over here just to play on your phone, did you?” Yes, yes I did. I came over here to play on my phone. I wanted to play on my phone and you’re talking to me. Are you still talking to me? I’ve actually said that before, I’ve looked up at the bartender and said “Is he still talking to me?” Which is really brash but at the same time, when I get to that point it’s because I’ve already made it very clear that I don’t want to talk anymore.
I’ve found that if someone comes over, the easiest way to get them to leave is to say you have a boyfriend even if you don’t because the fact that I have a fictional boyfriend is easier to respect than the fact that I don’t want here.
It’s because they’re respecting another man. Because then you’re another man’s property essentially. They don’t want to disrespect another man’s property because that would be a problem.