But according to Everyday Feminism (which, I've written, is a joke), I have been planning my parties all wrong. And, probably, so have you. But by using this convenient 10,000-point checklist, you can make sure your party is inclusive to everyone and doesn't accidentally hurt anyone's feelings. (See also: Why I Dressed as Microaggressions for Halloween.)
If you don't know what half the words on that list meant -- don't worry. I'm smart, and I didn't either.
Although the article claims to list "6" great moves, it actually lists over 41 of them, including (almost verbatim) these:
- Is your event small enough that you can "work with the specific access needs of who you are inviting to your party"?
- Have you reviewed the space to assure they’ll be able to accommodate multiple different kinds of bodies, and various kinds of abilities?
- Have you reached out to your community to see what people in your community want and need?
- Have you "assessed your budget and the affordability of modifications"?
- Have you made sure there are no stairs at the entrance of the venue? ("First impressions are everything.")
- Have you checked to make sure the door to the bathroom is wide enough for a wheelchair?
- Have you made sure there is enough turning radius in the stalls for the chair to turn and shut the door, leaving room for the person to turn and transfer from the chair?
- Have you made sure there are grab bars in the stall?
- Have you made sure there is fragrance-free soap in the bathroom for people with scent sensitivities?
- If there is not fragrance-free soap, have you provided your own, fragrance-free soap?
- Have you made a sign indicating that guests should use your fragrance-free soap instead of the one provided by the venue?
- Have you made sure that the smoking area is far enough away from the party that the smoke won't make the party inaccessible to those with smoke sensitivities or respiratory conditions?
- Have you made sure the smoking area is wheelchair accessible?
- Is there seating and an area away from the noise that is smoke-free?
- Have you written instructions to all of your guests on how they can make the party more accessible -- in a way that is a "fun part of the party"?
- Have you included all accessibility information that you have about your party theme, activities, and location?
- Have you set a cap for your party that is lower than the official "capacity" of the venue, allowing room to provide an accessible environment to multiple kinds of people?
- Have you forbidden your guests from wearing fragrances to your party?
- Have you assigned someone to stand at the door and sniff guests on arrival -- and ask folks who are wearing chemical fragrance to leave? (I'm not joking. This is really something the article says to do.)
- Alternatively, have you set up a station with white vinegar, baking soda, or unscented Dr. Bronner’s (or other shampoo) in which guests who fail the "sniff test" can wash scents off their skin or hair?
- If your event features a performance, have you established a "scented seating and fragrance-free seating far away from each other"?
- Have you provided seating for people who can't stand or dance for long?
- Are the chairs "light/portable/wheeled so that a person could take a chair where they would like it to go in the room"?
- Have you considered throwing a daytime party, instead, for "folks who need to go to bed early and or have chronic fatigue, folks with varying degrees of blindness, and Deaf folks (in order to read lips or watch a sign language interpreter)"?
- Are the lights too bright? Shy people don't like bright lights.
- Have you made sure the venue has low, non-fluorescent lighting? (This is "much more accessible for folks with chronic pain and neuroatypical experiences involving migraines.")
- Have you made sure the venue does NOT have low, non-fluorescent lighting? (This isn't very accessible for people with vision impairments.)
- Do all movement- or group-based physical activities have multiple ways that they could be engaged with by folks whose bodies move in different ways?
- Are the dance floor or bar up a flight of stairs?
- Are all games playable by people who are seated, as well as those who cannot stand up or run?
- Are all instructions written in extra large font?
- Are all foods and activities placed low enough that someone in a chair could reach them?
- Have you hired an ASL interpreter for your event?
- Have you prepared your interpreter with a general transcript of the event so they are prepared?
- If there is a visual component to your party, can you hire an audio describer to describe what is happening visually?
- Have you "designated at least three access support folks who are prepared to be of support or assistance at any given time"?
- Has your access team made themselves apparent and available to party guests?
- Has your access team pledged to remain sober and emotionally present the entire party?
- Have you informed your guests in writing and announced on the day of the event that "oppressive behavior of any kind will not be tolerated"?
- Have your and your volunteers agreed upon protocol for how to respond to "any given situation"? ANY given situation???!!!
- Have you made yourself available for feedback online and in-person, in case you were "incidentally ableist" and "need to be called out"?
Whew! Great. So now that you've got that checked off... let's talk about the theme of your party.
According to Everyday Feminism, there are many themes you should avoid, including:
- Era-themed parties that take place before the 1960s, which are "awkward and exclusive for guest of color."
- Halloween parties. Costumes have too much potential to hurt peoples' feelings. Best to avoid this one. Best to avoid even attending one -- someone could post a photo of you standing next to someone who is dressed as a Mexican, and next thing you know, people are demanding that you resign from student council for a costume you didn't even wear!
- Performances of the Vagina Monologues. Students at Mount Holyoke College recently decided that this classic feminist play is "not inclusive" enough of transgender people. Even though it's not called The Woman Monologues. It's specifically called The Vagina Monologues. As in, people with vaginas. It's a play about people with vaginas. Just like The Martian is a movie about people who go to Mars. (Full disclosure: EF has been silent on this issue, so I don't know for sure exactly where they stand. But it really wouldn't surprise me.)
- Networking events. Because networking is for "entitled, upper middle-class white people." (Even though the girl this particular rant is about runs a feminist blog, is active in progressive politics, and majored in African Studies.)
Additionally, be careful what kind of music you choose to listen to at your party!
- Taylor Swift is "problematic," because she "exemplifies white feminism." After all, she "appropriated" culture by featuring black hip hop dancers in the Shake It Off video; she "thinks partner violence is cute in some contexts" (apparently EF missed the whole, T-Swift is standing up against sexism in the media with this total major fuck-you video); her love interests -- both in her videos and in real life -- "are all straight, cis, able-bodied, fit, middle-to-upper class, white dudes"; "most of her friends are thin, rich, beautiful and white women"; and she filmed a video in Africa once.
- Selena Gomez. She's not white, but she "perpetuates white feminism."
- Iggy Azalea. White people shouldn't perform hip hop music unless they're active enough in the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Macklemore. White savior complex.
- Katy Perry. Cultural appropriator.
- Miley Cyrus. In spite of being one of the most charitable celebrities of 2014, she is also a cultural appropriator.
- Adele. Cultural appropriator.
- Joss Stone. Cultural appropriator.
- Sam Smith. Expressed hurt, shock and outrage on Twitter when he witnessed overt racism.
The list goes on.
Now. Let's talk about food and drinks. As I wrote in a recent post, Everyday Feminism warns that:
1. "Asian-style" or "Asian fusion" food is racist.
2. Calling food "exotic," "ethnic" or "authentic," is racist.
3. Eating food from a different culture without understanding the culture's full history and traditions, is racist.
4. Eating food from a culture that experienced colonization is racist -- especially if the food in question is a "fusion" of the colonizer's culture and the colonized culture.
5. Thinking you're adventurous for trying a foreign new food is racist.
6. If you love Mexican food but don't care about labor or immigration issues, you're a racist.
So keep this in mind as you plan your party menu -- and make sure you do some research on the history of all the foods you will be serving.
Obviously, I'm not 100% serious. I do think that these articles touch on some good points. It's better to be inclusive than it is to be exclusive.
But if you seriously think that I need to have a "sniffer" at the door sniffing all my guests and forcing them to wash their hair, skin and clothes in a bowl or leave my party... you're out of your f***ing mind!
If I showed up at a party and someone tried to sniff me, I would leave! Have you considered that I might have personal boundaries that I don't want violated? That I don't want random people sniffing my neck, armpits, hair, and who knows what else, on the off chance that someone at the party might maybe have a scent sensitivity?
If you seriously think that it makes sense for someone to do everything on this checklist in order to accommodate your disability... maybe you need to rethink your own perspective. Yeah, it sucks that you have a disability. But guess what? People don't have unlimited budgets. They don't have unlimited amounts of time to go inspect bathrooms and make sure the venue simultaneously does and does not have low, non-fluorescent lighting. And people can't read minds.
Instead of expecting everyone to do all this stuff all the time, just in case... why don't you just try using your words? After all, as Neve Be wrote in her post,
Unfortunately, ableism still comes close to last, if not last, on the lists of isms to wipe from the club kid circuit. I still find myself writing on Facebook events and messaging people to ask for the access info of parties, performances, and community events to be listed.
What do you think takes longer, Neve? You asking your host if a specific venue/plan meets specific accessibility needs (or even -- imagine this! -- calling the bar/restaurant/hotel ahead of time and asking them yourself!)... or you asking every host of every party to preemptively do all "6" of the things you wrote about in your article, in case someone attending their party has a disability?
In a perfect world, yes, every party would be totally inclusive. But some parties can't be inclusive -- whether because of time and money constraints, or because of hosts' inability to predict each and every need of people at the party. If something isn't perfectly accessible and inclusive... maybe it's your fault for not telling them about your wants/needs ahead of time.
Maybe instead of "calling them out" for not being perfect, you should thank them for trying. And, you know. For organizing and planning and paying for the party.