One really great thing I’ve noticed about Sydney is that there is very minimal catcalling that goes on in the streets. I remember the first week, noticing all of the construction going on the main street of Sydney, my path to class from my apartment. I cringed as I got closer, just waiting for one of the workers to inevitably make some comment at my friends and I. We all looked surprised and relieved when they didn’t say a word. In fact, almost no one has on my many walks through Sydney these past few months.
One not-so-great thing about Sydney, the people must save up all of their creepy aggression throughout the day, avoiding catcalling, to release it all in the bars and nightclubs. Every girl in this NYU Sydney cohort has discussed at some point how forward and aggressive many of the men in the clubs are; grabbing, kissing, acting like you’ve done something terribly wrong when you push them away or say you’re uninterested. I’ve seen some American men get extremely upset and angry when they witness this for the first time, yelling about how it is unacceptable to treat a woman like that. Regardless, the behavior continues. Sometimes I wonder if an Australian man in New York would have the same reaction but to catcalling, since its not the usual way to harass women.
The first few weeks in Sydney, my friends and I checked out a lot of different bars and clubs, taking recommendations from others in the cohort and people who had previously studied abroad in Sydney. Each place was quite fun, but we realized early on that the places in Sydney City were a bit too much for us. Extremely loud techno music, strict dress codes, lots of lurking older men, etc. Eventually, my four closest friends and I found our secret spot. We end up there almost every weekend, now. The music is fun, there’s no ridiculous cover charge, and its outside of the city, so the people and the atmosphere are much more casual. I feel comfortable and safe when I am there. I know that I will enjoy every moment with my friends and we’ll all return home knowing it was a night well spent. I trust this place.
Within this trusting environment, is a trustworthy friend. My first few times at the bar, I had noticed this one bouncer who always stood at the door at the back right of the venue. He always had a stool next to him, but stood the whole time, bobbing his head to the music and occasionally interacting with the other bouncers at opposite ends of the room. Once in a while we’d make eye contact, and he’d give me a look, as if to make sure I’m doing alright. I’d smile, assuring him I was fine. My fourth time at the place, I actually struck up conversation with him. I had asked him if he remembered me, and he said “Of course! You’re here all the time!” It was really comforting to know he really was doing his job. I felt protected, in a way. Each weekend from then on, I walk right to the bouncer, ask him how he is, and go on with my night with my friends, glancing over and smiling at the right moments. I feel free from judgement when around him, and I believe my friends do too. Writing this now makes me realize I don’t actually know anything about the bouncer, besides that he works there. It’s funny what trust can build upon.