Whether it’s the end-of-year work parties, the start-of-summer BBQs or family get-togethers, for many of us December is a time of intense socialising. That’s why December is also a particularly dangerous month for becoming ‘the party spoiler’.
We have all been there: standing around at a party, overhearing someone telling a sexist joke or a racist joke or a sexist and racist joke, and thinking, I really need to say something but then I’m going to be labelled “the party spoiler” or “the troublemaker” or “the one who can’t take a joke”.
Each of us will have a different level of comfort about speaking up. Some of us wouldn’t hesitate. But it is not always an easy thing to take the plunge and “spoil the party”, particularly if the “offender” is someone you want or need to get along well with: your uncle, your neighbours or your partner’s new boss. Power relationships still exist at parties and many of us can be intimidated to disagree with work colleagues in positions of power, or with relatives who may be our elders. As immigrant and refugee women, choosing to speak out in these situations can make us feel like we’re creating more distance between ourselves and the person whose opinions we find offensive. And it’s a party, after all, we should just let it go, shouldn’t we?
There is no right or wrong way to handle these situations and everyone is different. But at this time of festivity and joy, we’d like to celebrate all the party spoilers out there. Thank you for speaking out, thank you for taking the lead in reducing racism and sexism in our world, and thank you for taking risks on our behalf.
We wish you well this December. Because it’s your party too, and you don’t need an unchallenged sexist or racist joke or opinion spoiling it for you. And if you look around there will probably be someone else at the party, standing not very far away, maybe even next to you, whose great time was getting spoiled too. And to them, you just saved the party.