April 20, 2012

Waffle House Woes

This evening, my friend Chris and I ventured beyond the walls of Duke to a shining beacon of hope – Waffle House. While a trip to Waffle House at 2AM is inherently a bit crazy, tonight’s trip was different. Sitting at the booth across from us was a lesbian couple and their presumable straight female friend. A couple of extremely intoxicated males walked up to their table and began hitting on the couple, who explained that they were together and that they were not interested in the men. One of the men responded by asking them to “prove it” by making out at the table. When they refused, he asked how much he would have to pay them to watch. Later, when one rose to go to the restroom, one of the men asked her if she was going to use the men’s restroom, since “one of them has to.” At this point, I was getting fairly pissed off, but I didn’t know what I could do – it was an uncomfortable situation to say the least. A few minutes later, as the women were paying, one of them asked if they were looking for a threesome that evening.

Needless to say, I was rather shocked at the events of this evening. Of all the patrons and workers in the restaurant, no one (myself included) chided the men for their harassment. In fact, most of the comments drew laughter from the rest of the room. There was a group of UNC students in the diner as well as another group of Duke students and none of us said a single word. Mid-conversation I remarked that I felt as though I was on “What Would You Do” because of the sheer outrageousness of the situation. I suppose I was relieved that no one told them they were going to Hell or the like, but that was the only highlight of the evening.

I wonder if I was right in not speaking up. Is it ever okay to not speak up? No, it wasn’t my place to correct the men, and yes, the women seemed to be standing up for themselves just fine, but I can’t help but feel a bit guilty for sitting by and saying nothing. I suppose the fact that the harassers were severely intoxicated heightened my anxiety about speaking up, but even then I don’t know if I can be fully excused. I simply did not to know what to say to the men. I hope next time I stumble into a situation like tonight’s I will be better prepared.

P.S. Vote Against Amendment One


  1. This is a tricky one, I would say that one is right in not speaking up if it is something that would cause immediate danger and just worsen the situation or make it turn violent. Maybe that's what you were afraid of.

    I think this has a lot to do with the bystander effect in which we just wish so hard for someone else to come and save the day or for someone else to take action. I don't think that it "wasn't your place" to say anything, because if there's harassment going on that you know isn't right, then (in my personal opinion) it's your duty to go and show that this behavior isn't just uncomfortable for those women, but uncomfortable for you as well as not acceptable.

    Also, even when it seems like someone is standing up for themselves and supporting themselves just fine, I don't believe that they would ever mind getting a little bit of back up to make sure that the situation doesn't get the best of them.

    I still support my earlier statement of avoiding a violent situation at all costs, and I think that potentially this one could have turned violent if someone had ungracefully interfered in some way. However, I think that it would have probably been acceptable to go and reassure the women that not everyone thinks like that guy and that they handled themselves beautifully.

  2. FUCK THEM. seriously. I am DISGUSTED with those assholes.

    Sorry, this really hit home for me. Wait no actually, I'm not sorry.

    One of the reasons that my girlfriend and I sometimes hesitate to show affection in public is because of shit like this. Hell, I even took a self defense class because I know that I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut in a situation like that. It's just so fucked up that some asshole can say what he wants, make me and everyone around us uncomfortable and WE have to bear the brunt of all that. I'm sure he had a laugh, ate some food, went home, sobered up, and laughed about it again the next morning. But those women who sat there and took it all....that's just fucked up. They shouldn't have had to sit through that.

    I'm not going to say that you should have said something because I believe that everyone's personal experience of shocking/unusual events constitutes an extremely unique decision-making process and response type, BUT I want you to know that you could have. My philosophy is that if it makes you uncomfortable, and especially if you know that it's making someone else uncomfortable (or is just plain WRONG), why not make the asshole take some of that discomfort on? Yeah it might be awkward, and potentially scary, but all of that is temporary and WILL subside.

    I love the Waffle House, but I can't deny that you always run the risk of getting involved in or at least witnessing a confrontation when you go at 2 in the morning. That being said, there are usually police officers around to make sure that things don't get out of hand. (Were any of them there by the way? I would be interested to know whether or not they witnessed this, and whether or not they seemed willing to help...).

    Anyway, I'm just PISSED at privileged assholes like this that get to sexualize women - and even more so, queer women - whenever the eff they feel like it. Seriously, WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY TO ASK ANYONE TO PROVE ANYTHING??

    Swati, I agree that it would have been nice to at least go over to the couple after the situation was over and offer some words of kindness / support. I'm sure that they must have felt pretty alone throughout all this, especially if people were laughing. And from my understanding, you and your friend were sitting right across from them, which means that they KNOW you saw what was going on and they KNOW that you (and others, to be fair) didn't say anything. I know what that feels like and it's pretty shitty.

    All it takes for bad things to happen is for good people to sit by and do nothing.

    (**just want to go ahead and clarify that this comment is not meant to be a personal attack on you and your friend. this is a knee-jerk reaction to this idea of the "bystander" effect and to the thought that that could have been me and my beautiful, kick-ass girlfriend, who certainly doesn't deserve to be treated that way**)

  3. Ugh. I just. Can't. With this.

    Honestly, I'm at a point in my life where I *always* need to get in the middle of it. Regardless of consequences.

  4. Did anyone think to get the manager? I don't think I would ever confront a belligerent drunk person in a situation like this, much less a pack, but I would definitely at least ask to see the manager. Tell them you will not support a business that allows bullying on its premises and will take your business elsewhere. The manager has the authority to ask patrons to leave.