Last night Tool played the Air Canada Centre. I arrived with excitement about the musical odyssey I was about to embark on with my boyfriend two other friends. We joined the shortest line we could find, which still amounts to a long line of Tool fans, eagerly awaiting our entry to the show and to the warmth. In front of us were two girls yelling and giggling with excitement. After about 10 minutes of waiting in the cold, a girl comes up to the two in front of us and says “Just so you know, you’re wasting your time. They won’t pat down girls here.” The two in front of us contemplated for a moment, and decided to go and find another line. I decided to stay where I was; not wanting to leave my friends or force them to join a much longer line. After another few minutes, another fan spotted me and my friends.
“You should find another line” he said, “We’ve just been through this and they won’t pat her down.” her referring to me.
I kept thinking to myself how stupid this was! If I say I’m ok with a male security guard performing a pat down they’ll totally do it. I’ve given consent!
One of my friends decided to walk up to the security guard and ask, since by now we weren’t far from the front. He returned with the news “Yup. It’s true! And apparently they are very strict about it”. And so we were forced to lose our place and join another line and wait. Again.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” I blurted “ Why do we have to go and join another line and wait all over again just because they don’t have enough female security guards to go around?!” A pat down from a male security guard isn’t a problem for me, so why is it now becoming a problem for not just myself, but for four other people? (I think it’s a safe bet the security guard was getting an ear full from many annoyed female fans last night). We arrived at our new line and proceeded to wait. As we neared the front of the line I noticed that this gate has female security guards exclusively. And yet they weren’t turning the men away! What was up with that? My friends and I were forced to find another line if we wanted to gain access to the show together because of my gender, yet theirs was not a concern.
According to page 29 of the Air Canada Centre promoter guide: “ should a physical pat down be required, female security officers must be posted at each gate to deal with female guests. Under no circumstances should a male security office pat down a female guest”.
It’s great that the provision is there to avoid this kind of hassle and appease both sides of the male/female pat down debate, but clearly the venue did not have enough female staff to go around. So why was their problem now mine? I respect, commend, and very much appreciate that the ACC is acknowledging the voices, concerns, and objections of the female population, but my voice deserves to be heard just as much. My consent should bear equal weight to my objection. If I require a specialized pat down on your terms then it should be implemented on an even scale.
The fact that a gender sensitive provision like this is written into the ACC’s policy is great. It shows a sense of understanding about the issue. But that’s all it is. A sense. I may be way off base here, but isn’t the whole idea behind having both male and female security guards at the gate to ensure no one is pushed too far out of their comfort zone while conforming to the security rules of an establishment? And if that’s the case, then why am I being made to feel more uncomfortable by having to wait out in the cold twice as long? If I had stayed in that first line, I would have been turned away because of my gender – the very thing the ACC is trying to be respectful of. I appreciate what the ACC is attempting to do, but in trying to listen to ‘my voice’ they ended up stripping me of it entirely. Along with many other women that night.
Once inside Tool was amazing! But that’s another story…..
to read more from the Air Canada Centre Promoter Guide click here.