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Post by BiSian on Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:22 am

Today I went to a hippie bathhouse. Which means clothing was VERY optional. Before being allowed into the lovely hot tubs and saunas, I was asked to review their rules. Among the "don't clip your toenails" and "Don't run and fall" rules were some very specific rules about respecting others' boundaries and privacy. Including:
-All services you receive here are strictly non-sexual.
-We encourage patrons to focus on their own experience, enjoying the calm atmosphere and quiet company of friends who came with them.
-By respecting privacy we create a space where people are able to relax, with or without bathing attire, and be free from sexual issues or innuendos.
-Public displays of affection are not welcome in the bathhouse as it is distracting to other’s relaxation and healing. This includes washing each other in the shower, massage, sitting on laps, kissing, and hugging.
-If someone makes you uncomfortable or invades your space, please inform a staff member immediately.

When I spoke with the staff, they explicitly emphasized that the bathhouse was not the space to "make new friends" as they wanted everyone to feel comfortable hanging out without worrying about being hit on.
In practice, this looked like: everyone was meditating or quietly talking with their friends, strangers made eye contact, said "Hi" or "excuse me" smiled and then went about their business of relaxing.

This was my first experience in a place where the rules for not socializing were so clearly set up. And I enjoyed it for what it was. Whatcha think Nerdlovers? Are there other spaces that could benefit from explicit "Don't Flirt" rules?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:54 am

There are people who could benefit from having spaces with explicit "Do Flirt" rules, so, yes. I think I'd like to see more places with rules like that bathhouse.
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Post by Werel on Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:54 am

Damn, that sounds great.

BiSian wrote:Are there other spaces that could benefit from explicit "Don't Flirt" rules?
I would love a designated non-sexual-space gym. Nothing wrong with ogling and working out at the same time, but it'd be nice to be able to opt out.
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Post by Mel on Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:24 pm

I definitely think having spaces like that is a great thing. I haven't had much of a problem with getting hit on (not that I don't find it uncomfortable, but it pretty much never happens to me), so I can't speak from personal experience, but from hearing others talk I suspect something like a "stick to socializing with people you already know, not trying to make new friends/pick people up" night at clubs and/or bars, on a periodic basis, might be enjoyable for those who want to just go and dance with their existing friends/partners. And gym definitely is an obvious one.

Though I wonder if, if more places with rules like that existed, we might have to be careful of it translating to some people as, "anywhere that doesn't have this explicit rule, it's therefore okay to hit on people aggressively, and if they weren't up for that they shouldn't have come"? I could very easily see, in the gym example for ex, that if there were a significant number of non-sexual gyms, anyone who attended a "regular" gym (because it was closer to them or had better services or classes they particularly wanted to attend or whatever) would get more pushback if they shut down an attempt at socializing.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:00 pm

I'd go to a bathhouse that placed the emphasis on platonic interaction, had plenty of staff aboard to intervene in case of unpleasant interactions and operated on we-know-bad-when-we-see-it policy. But this image would just feel weird, but that's probably because the picture I have of the people who go there would be "hair-trigger fragility", and while I know this isn't the case in practice, the worry about stepping on someone's toe would make me either gigglish or put up a pre-emptive aura of fuck off of my own.

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Post by The Wisp on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:21 pm

Mel wrote:I definitely think having spaces like that is a great thing. I haven't had much of a problem with getting hit on (not that I don't find it uncomfortable, but it pretty much never happens to me), so I can't speak from personal experience, but from hearing others talk I suspect something like a "stick to socializing with people you already know, not trying to make new friends/pick people up" night at clubs and/or bars, on a periodic basis, might be enjoyable for those who want to just go and dance with their existing friends/partners. And gym definitely is an obvious one.

Though I wonder if, if more places with rules like that existed, we might have to be careful of it translating to some people as, "anywhere that doesn't have this explicit rule, it's therefore okay to hit on people aggressively, and if they weren't up for that they shouldn't have come"? I could very easily see, in the gym example for ex, that if there were a significant number of non-sexual gyms, anyone who attended a "regular" gym (because it was closer to them or had better services or classes they particularly wanted to attend or whatever) would get more pushback if they shut down an attempt at socializing.

I also wonder how enforceable such rules would be in louder and more crowded places like clubs or bars where the staff can't see clearly what's going on. After all, it could just create an unequal situation where really well socially calibrated people could still end up flirting (because they would know it would be welcome, and thus not reported or enforced) while everybody else would have to follow the rules.
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Post by celette482 on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:27 pm

Our favorite bar in my old hometown had an explicit "Men do not introduce themselves to women" rule. It was written down and always followed. There were other rules (no standing, for example) and it was one of our favorite places to just go have drinks with female friends because we wouldn't get interrupted.
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Post by reboot on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:30 pm

celette482 wrote:Our favorite bar in my old hometown had an explicit "Men do not introduce themselves to women" rule. It was written down and always followed. There were other rules (no standing, for example) and it was one of our favorite places to just go have drinks with female friends because we wouldn't get interrupted.

Were women allowed to introduce to men? It kind of seems unfair (but lovely given the current state of gender norms) to restrict one group but not the other? And then what about people who are into their own gender?
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Post by celette482 on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:45 pm

The sign singled out men, saying "Men, don't introduce yourself to women" but then it said "Do not speak with a group unless you are introduced by someone in that group."

So yeah, basically it was okay for a person in the group to say "Hey, Jim! Jim, do you know kate?" if jim didn't come with the group, but Jim can't come up and say "Hey, I'm Jim."

So, it applied to both, but it was explicit that men were not supposed to talk to women they didn't know.
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Post by reboot on Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:50 pm

celette482 wrote:The sign singled out men, saying "Men, don't introduce yourself to women" but then it said "Do not speak with a group unless you are introduced by someone in that group."

So yeah, basically it was okay for a person in the group to say "Hey, Jim! Jim, do you know kate?" if jim didn't come with the group, but Jim can't come up and say "Hey, I'm Jim."

So, it applied to both, but it was explicit that men were not supposed to talk to women they didn't know.

OK, now that is a bit more equitable. It also seems somewhat enforceable if it was a low key, mellow bar
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Post by celette482 on Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:05 pm

In all the years I went there, I never saw anyone try to pick up someone.

It was also one of the only bars in the city that didn't have constant live music, so the overall vibe was more "This is where you go to have a quiet drink with friends and catch up." If you wanted to pick up people, walk half a block in either direction. It was also the only bar in the area that regularly had more locals than tourists. Nashville, The Patterson House. Now you're all in the circle of trust.
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Post by reboot on Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:20 pm

celette482 wrote:In all the years I went there, I never saw anyone try to pick up someone.

It was also one of the only bars in the city that didn't have constant live music, so the overall vibe was more "This is where you go to have a quiet drink with friends and catch up." If you wanted to pick up people, walk half a block in either direction. It was also the only bar in the area that regularly had more locals than tourists. Nashville, The Patterson House. Now you're all in the circle of trust.

Damn! I wish I knew this in June. I was at a conference in Nashville and went for a drink with my friend who is a magnet for men (beautiful and has incredible presence and style). We could not talk for more than 5 minutes before someone interrupted. We finally ended up just giving up, getting some beer and hanging out in my room to talk.
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Post by V on Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:18 am

In Japan  there are very clear social norms about where and when it is ok to interact with strangers and not just romantically so.  It will vary a bit from area to area; for example I live in what is variously regarded as the friendliest/rudest/most outgoing city in Japan.

This extends to places like bars, cafes and restaurants.  Even as a foreigner this doesn't take long too pick up, ( the social norms not um people) so once you know you can choose your venue.  Sometimes with smaller places, which are the kind of places where interaction is accepted/the norm, you will need to go inside to check out the vibe to know what it's like.

So there are plenty of options to go out for a coffee or beer with friends or alone without being pestered.

I have noticed at few night club type venues signs in the men's bathrooms that say aggressively hitting on women will get you kicked out.  Not sure what signs, if any, are in the women's bath rooms!

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Post by eselle28 on Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:30 pm

I'd like a few more spaces like this. I understand the concern that it might implicitly label all other spaces as ones where aggressive flirting was acceptable, but I suspect that in practice, the rule would be limited to relatively rare facilities where flirting is especially problematic (like a bathhouse) or to a relatively small percentage of more common and varied businesses (like bars or gyms).

I mean, realistically speaking, the average bar understands that many of its patrons are explicitly coming there to meet other people. I suspect that the market for bars where that's off limits is small enough that having one or two in an area that do have this rule won't markedly change behavior at the others. I could see there being more demand for gyms where flirting was discouraged, so it might be slightly more of an issue there. I think it might be interesting to have a gym that has a "social room" and a "quiet room" with similar equipment. I'd certainly want to join something like that.
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Post by LadyIkaros on Sun Jan 11, 2015 6:28 pm

BiSian wrote:Whatcha think Nerdlovers? Are there other spaces that could benefit from explicit "Don't Flirt" rules?

Public transport. All of it.
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