Alex Blaze

What about the queer kind of ladies' night?

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 07, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: den hollander, feminism, ladies night, New York, women

An appeals court rejected a case brought to close down ladies nights in New York:

ladies-night.jpgThe Manhattan-based Second Court of Appeals rejected a claim by Den Hollander, a self-proclaimed "Men's Rights" lawyer, who insisted that "Ladies Night" promotions such as half-price drinks and cheaper admission were unconstitutional, a result of "40 years of lobbying and intimidation, [by] the special interest group called 'Feminism.' "

Something tells me that Hollander is a little off in his assessment of blame; it doesn't sound much like the feminism I know to "lobby" and "intimidate" in favor of men paying for women as entertainment and to get them liquored up. In fact, it sounds pretty anti-feminist to me already, but then I'm not a self-proclaimed "anti-feminist lawyer." Clearly he's an expert on the topic.

It's not a huge deal, but I'd never enter a bar that advertised a ladies night (I've never seen that out here, but then again "happy hour" started catching on in France just a few years ago), and not because it's "sexist against men," but that it's basically asking me to subsidize heterosexuality and general straight male creepiness. Plus the number of drunken women in a bar isn't something I look at when deciding where to spend my time and money.

As for the lawyer who argued the case, he blames the judge because she had a vagina and that renders her unable to decide this case (a fair, unoppressive-for-men world would see it his way):

Lady Judge throws case into the street. She ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, nightclubs can charge men more for admission than females, but as a result cannot charge guys more for a drink. So if you can make it to the bar, you're home-free.

He's appealing this case to the Supreme Court, but he's not optimistic about its chances:

Asked by a reporter about the odds that the high court will agree to hear his case, he responded that it was "about the same as some pretty young lady paying my way on a date."

I dunno, maybe that's because he looks about 50, so "pretty young ladies" are mostly looking for someone their age? Or maybe it's just because he's a sexist jerk who someone would have to be promised free food and beverage to put up with?

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..."When the feeling's right..."

The lesbian bar in my hometown used to charge men like 3x more cover charge.

The problem is that, despite the way he packages it, he's right: it is discriminatory on the basis of sex. Now, we can say that it's a private club, and as such it has the right to do anything it wants... but would our reaction be as genteel if it were a bar that forbade women? Or how about blacks or gays? I can vividly remember the uproar over a certain West Hollywood diner that, back in the day, had a sign over the counter that read "No fags allowed". The sign is still there, now for its ironic camp value, but back in the late 60s and early 70s, folks saw it as anything but quaint. So how is that different from what we're reading about here?

Images of drunken women and rapacious men aside, at the argument's core, the lawyer is right. And I'm not seeing anything that defends the club's right to do it. This is just another one of those ways when the freedom we aspire doesnt always work out like we want it to.

Agreed Sean. Knowing that gender is a protected class and charging different admission prices based only on the basis of gender does seem to go against many of the principles that we try to discuss on these boards. As you mentioned, how quick would we be to brush this aside if bars had Straight nights and allowed them in at half price? Wouldn't some guest author write a piece about how horrible the bar is for having different price structures based on orientation? Just curious in what other capacities are we ok with charging men and women different prices for the same product and/or services? It seems when gender protections can be used to our advantage it is a wide reaching policy, but in a case like this one, has little meaning at all.

We have actually posted about bars that ban straight people here before, and gay bars that ban women. Mixed feelings all around.

I wonder how they'd implement pricing based on sexual orientation, though, since it's hard for anyone to tell and even harder for a bar tender who's working to do a quick check of... what?

Anyway, I'd argue that men and women are getting a different product here (men get female entertainment with their drinks) and women end up paying the difference in ways that can't be counted in dollars.

I understand your point, but the majority of your response mentions banning. My response was not about banning because the bar discussed in the Ladies Night case did not ban. My response was strictly about providing a service at different prices based on gender. Again, there are very few situations in which most of us would find it acceptable to provide the exact same service or a product with a different price tag attached based on your gender. The product at the bar is the same, even though the experience from person to person may differ.
And while it may be difficult to charge based on orientation as I posted previously, it can be just as difficult to charge on gender without going into murky waters. The larger point I was trying to make was not a literal one, rather our tenacity to jump on anyone who we percieve to slight us. Substitute LGBT or gender for any other protected class and it's still just as cloudy. So even though there may not be a law technically forbidding them from doing this, it doesn't make the action any less questionable. I mean, should people who are treated differently feel better because a law doesn't prevent them from being treated differently? I wouldn't.

Oh, don't read me as defending these bars as doing anything great for humanity. As I mentioned above, I don't even enter bars that advertise ladies' night - it's wrong on so many levels.

I was just mentioning that what they're doing isn't: a) really doesn't hurt men, but is about attracting men by using women as entertainment, b) there's nothing illegal (like the judge said) about this discrimination going on in anything except drink pricing [btw, i'm not sure that's correct since the only person who keeps on mentioning that is Hollander himself, and he seems off his rocker], and c) it's not all that uncommon for private establishments to discriminate on the basis of sex/sexuality (like schools, night clubs, bars, rich dude clubs, bathhouses, etc.), which is probably why fewer people complain about that than other forms of discrimination.

But, no, ladies night is about aggressive heterosexuality, so I'll avoid it.

They're not a state function. They're not a public accommodation. Unless the state passes some sort of legislation here, there's nothing banning them.

The lawyer's argument is wrong there, as the judge pointed out.

There are plenty of bars and private clubs that forbid women, both gay and not gay. Anti-discrimination laws usually aren't written to include those kinds of establishments.

But that's just simply talking about it from a moral point of view, not a legal one. Again, Alex: I refer you to that quaint little sign that hung in a WeHo diner for many years. By your logic, it should have been perfectly fine and we should have just gotten over it. How is this any different?

Heck, for that matter, there's a few places here in the States where various lodges of the VFW have stated, very baldly, that they will not allow people -- even wartime vets -- wearing turbans. The "logic" is that it's somehow disrespectful to have your head covered... even though a visit to any VFW will find folks wearing ball caps and cowboy hats. It's obviously a double-standard based on religion, and it takes a court case in (I think) New Hampshire to get folks to see the inherent hypocricy of it. Again, how is that any different?

And just as an aside, straight bars these days are far more egalitarian: everyone is a piece of meat. Everyone is there for someone else's entertainment, whether it's women for men or men for women. In some respects, equality has moved into the late 20th century. If we're bringing up the red herring of the strip clubs, kindly remember that the women there are in control and manage to take these big tough guys and leave them with balls of blue and empty pockets: I'd say it's all working in both directions. you also have a problem with Affirmative Action? Is that also unconstitutional?

If we're going by the strict letter of the law, yes, it is, because it puts preferential treatment on one group over another, even though the law supposedly forbids it when based on race. The morality of the issue and my personal feelings about it aside (and please rest assured that I'm in favour of it), it seeks to create a forced parity through favouritism. It is simply the other side of the white privilege coin.

Yes, it's realized great things for people who would have otherwise been treated less than equally, but I dont think we can look at it with blunt honesty and say it was constitutional.

Why would you want a literal interpretation of the law as opposed to a rational one? I'm not sure what you're defending or why. The courts have long gone with a rational interpretation of the law, not a literal one.

Affirmative action is the solution to white privilege and male privilege. It's not the other side of the coin. It's understanding that 100s of years of privilege cannot be undone by passing a civil rights law alone. The strict letter of the law is sometimes irrational.

It took a "strict" reading of the constitution for us to see what's hopefully the end of Prop 8. Would you have preferred a "rational" one, given what passes these days for rationalization?

As for "Affirmative action is the solution to white privilege and male privilege. It's not the other side of the coin", I would ask you to consider this: if AA puts racial minorities at the head of the line, who's getting the privilege now? Before, we had a system in place that said, "I dont care about your credentials. All I care about is the colour of your skin." After... well, you tell me: what's different? What's changed? Are we looking at people with any kind of racial blindness when considering their qualifications for something? If we're not (which, frankly, is the whole point of affirmative action), then explain how we can justify that as not being discriminatory.

Prop 8 was decided on rational basis. Literally, that's what the constitutional test used is called..."rational basis review." It was decided that there was no rational reason to prohibit same sex marriages.

There are actual times where treating men and women differently is rational. Like fitness tests. And there are times when marginalized classes need special dispensation to account for disparities.

Affirmative action doesn't put ALL minorities ahead of the line and it doesn't just toss out credentials as if any black guy off the street could take away a job from a college educated white guy. It simply uses a quota because white people get preferential treatment because it's so ingrained in our culture.

So, again you're using a logical fallacy, this time the straw man.

I don't even think there are many aff action programs that ever used quotas, and if there were they don't now. A few universities had point systems that awarded more points to minorities, and other schools and employers go with the vague "favor the minority if all other factors are equal" sort of thing. And some advertise in minority neighborhoods or participate in Black job fairs or put out an ad in Spanish, etc., to reach minority candidates, which is all aff action too.

And then there are all the other employers that use the "If women and minorities really were just as good as everyone else, then they'd already be in positions of power, amirite?" standard.

Yes, many aff action programs were constitutional (aff action was never any one thing - even saying "Women and minorities are encouraged to apply" in an ad is affirmative action). The Constitution doesn't say "Don't discriminate, bitchez!"; it applies a level of scrutiny to state discrimination (private discrimination was banned through statute). Which means the state is allowed to discriminate if it proves, depending on the level of scrutiny applied, that it has a good reason to.

Which is what bothered me about the weird DOMA brief debate last year as people who should have known better were saying the DOJ didn't have to defend DOMA because of Obama's statements that he thought it was "discriminatory." "Discriminatory" doesn't mean "unconstitutional," which was the standard the DOJ needed to not defend it. Well, that was one of the several conditions.

Whatever. I'm wrong; you're right. Go you.

Thanks, I'm bowing out and going to bed. It's nice to have you acknowledge that.

I wouldnt dare think otherwise.

And there'll be a new cartoon tomorrow that you leave a comment for. And you'll be right on that one as well, I"m sure.

Really, Sean? You've never been to a club that excluded women? Really? And Doc and Raider seem so gaystream, who knew they completely avoided that sort of establishment.

And, no, not the "red herring of strip clubs" (although you never explain why that's a red herring, you just say the workers there are empowered. Go them). I was referring to actual clubs for men that exclude women. They're not uncommon - they're in every major city. They're where (straight) men go to hang out.

I don't know where you're getting that heterosexual relationships are completely egalitarian now. But maybe North Carolina is just ahead of the curve.

Alex, snarkiness does not become you.

I'm bowing out of this conversation, thanks.

And for the record, Alex, no, I have not seen straight bars for men only. A sheltered existence, I gather. You would think that after all these years, I would have encountered at least one... but no. Sorry to be a disappointment yet again.

"If we're bringing up the red herring of the strip clubs, kindly remember that the women there are in control and manage to take these big tough guys and leave them with balls of blue and empty pockets: I'd say it's all working in both directions."

Strip clubs don't work as an analogy, at all. The issue of the women paying less at bars is completely different from women earning money as strippers: one is a class of consumers, the other is a class of people with a product to sell.

Nobody's arguing whether or not strippers have control or not - they're simply not part of the equation here. And who raised this red herring anyway?

Oh Sean, a bar need not forbade women. It just needs to be unsafe for women and women will avoid it. Straight men are pretty good at marking their territory without needing signage.

In any event, men aren't being barred from Ladies Nights. So, no it is totally not the same as barring women...because no one's being barred. Women are just getting a discount as bait to lure them in for male customers.

And I'm just glad we have a court system that interprets the law rationally, not just literally.

>> In any event, men aren't being barred from Ladies Nights.

That's missing the point. When one group pays more for something than another group for no other reason than gender, that's discriminatory. I mean, look at this way: if you were told that you couldnt go into a certain place unless you paid three times as much just because you're a woman, would your response be as cavalier?

And let me underscore something here, if I may: if straight bars want to do this, God bless them and send them on their way. But let's not overlook what's going really on just because we happen to agree with the policy. That makes us no different than the religious wingnuts who applaud every anti-gay decision made.

I think you're missing the point. Your argument is based on logical fallacy of false equivalence.

Women are already told they can't go into a certain place unless they pay with their body being gawked at and grabbed by men. The price women pay isn't always monetary. And that's not a price men typically have to pay.

>> "Women are already told they can't go into a certain place unless they pay with their body being gawked at and grabbed by men. The price women pay isn't always monetary. And that's not a price men typically have to pay."

Sorry, but no. As I've already said, equality is sometimes a messy thing. If we want equality here, then we have to accept equality there as well. Just because it's uncomfortable and awkward doesnt make discrimination right. If you think you're going to have to pay with your body, then you have the right to not go there. No one is forcing you to be gawked at. No one is saying you have to let your body be handled in ways you do not want. You can make a statement with your wallet firmly shut and go someplace where you *do* feel comfortable. But to impose your assessment in a generalized way all across the boards is just as wrong, IMHO, as someone saying they dont want fags or lezzies or trannies teaching their kids.

I'm in favor of social equality, not just legal equality. What you're arguing for is a different kind of equality that doesn't actually create working equality.

If I have a right to go to less places than men due to male privilege, that's not equality.

No one is forcing me to be gawked at? Seriously? So, shall women just stay in the house or do you think it would be appropriate for women to wear full body burqas to avoid being gawked at?

>> "So, shall women just stay in the house or do you think it would be appropriate for women to wear full body burqas to avoid being gawked at?"

If we're distilling arguments down to the most absurd conclusion, then they're becoming pointless. As I said to Alex above, you're right. I'm wrong. Go you.

Marginalized people having the right to simply not go to places that are hostile towards them doesn't create equality. Actually that's what causes inequality. A lesbian club, that was hidden by the way, charging 3x more for men is only compensating for the lack of lesbian social spaces. There would be no need for that space if there was men and women and gays and straights were equal.

Goddamn, lesbians just want to be able to dance with their partner without straight men watching them like it's a porno.

And if you're wondering, no gay men did not have to pay the 3x cover charge if they came with a lesbian member of the club as a guest. But typically gay men aren't all that interested in going to a lesbian club anyway unless they're just hanging out with some lesbian friends. Straight men would go just to gawk at the lesbians.

So, go me.

Well, whatever. I'm finding it more and more fascinating that we *want* discrimination when it works *for* us... but we'll get righteously angry when it doesnt. Maybe you dont see a bit of irony there, but to me it's fairly glistening with it.

Good night, all. I'm sure there will be plenty more times when you and Alex and Yasmin can reaffirm how wrong I am on everything, but I dont know what else to say. So I guess there's nothing to say, right?

Speaking of absurdities: dry cleaners still charge more for women's shirts and hair stylists charge women more. Private clubs still ban people on the basis of race, sex, and ethnicity - there's a reason why some private clubs are all white or all male.

I think you're missing the point anyway: the judge ruled on a simple principle, that nightclubs aren't "state actors." End of story.

If this lawyer had found, say, restaurants in, say, City Hall across the state that did the same, he'd be well within his rights and the case would probably have advanced. But he didn't, and it didn't. End of story.

So, in fact, Alex's point way above is not a moral one, but a legal one. It just so happens that the lawyer here is a sexist and a kook.

There is no moral argument here. And Prop 8 was fought on constitutional grounds, which is exactly what happened here.

So, what's the argument here? And why am I being charged more for my haircut?

Because you allow yourself to be.

I think that covers it.

Thant doesn't even make sense. You can't have it both ways, Sean. According to you: On the one hand, an act of blatant discrimination like being charged more for my shirt or my hair is my problem and my problem only; if I want it to change, I should just not allow it. On the other hand, when a bar charges men more than women, it's "discriminatory on the basis of sex."

Contradictions galore. Or are you saying that the only discrimination that counts is the (perceived) discrimination against men? That's all I gather so far from your comments here.

You see contradictions because you choose to. When you say, "Why should I pay more for my haircut than a guy?", my response is "You dont have to. Go someplace where they charge the same: such places do exist. Learn to cut it yourself: it's not that difficult. Barter services with a friend who's a hair stylist. Be proactive about it." Otherwise, to be blunt, you're just a victim. You want equality to come to you? Well, good luck with that. I dont know many people who attained social or legal equality sitting around waiting for it to happen.

And if all you see in my comments is "the only discrimination that counts is the (perceived) discrimination against men", then you're being highly selective about your reading. You seem to think that discrimination is okay if it's against the white male hierarchy... but not so if it's against anyone else, so tell me: who's being selective here? We keep saying we want social as well as legal equality: well, sorry but that means we're gonna have to accept some things that we might not like because social equality cuts all ways. We have to be willing to see that all of us, from the richest to the poorest, from the most virtuous to the sleaziest, are equal. Period. End of story. They are all equal because not only do they have the same rights but the same responsibilities that come with those rights. You wanna put on a white robe and a pointy hat and march around town with a sign about white supremecy? You certainly can -- it's called freedom of speech -- but you also have to be aware that you are also responsible for what happens along with that exercise of freedom.

We cant change the rules to cover our fears of being gawked at: we have to accept that equality means we're gonna have to deal with getting gawked at, just as the gawker is gonna have to deal with the reprecussions of his actions. Once again, having rights also means having responsibilities: that gawker will learn nothing about that if the solution is to hide away behind a higher door charge -- you are in effect abdicating his responsibility by doing so. Rather, it has to be dealt with directly and honestly. To do otherwise, Yasmin, just allows the underlying social inequality to continue unfettered. It's sweeping it all under that proverbial rug.

Now, if you have a better solution, pray tell me what it is.

Dear Yasmin,

If a man came into my shop with a head of hair like yours, he would be charged 75 bucks for a haircut.

Because you allow yourself to be.

I think that covers it.

Well, then guys can just choose not to go to places where they're charged more than women.

And? And they won't. Because Ladies Night is for straight men. The discount for women is to lure them in for the straight men. Men aren't the victims of discrimination in Ladies Night discounts anyway as this guy is trying to claim.

>> "And they won't"

Then why even propose it as a solution, if you know it wont happen?

>> "The discount for women is to lure them in for the straight men."

And I"m quite sure -- as are you -- that the women are very much aware of that. After all the years of this social construct, one would have to a complete idiot not to. So we have women going to Ladies Night, full knowing (or hopefully so) that they are there to bring in the guys... and the guys paying an extra buck or two or more at the door because they too know the bar is offering this to get them in for the business. The women know they're going to be gawked at, but at the same time the more guys there, the better the women's chances as well for a hookup... which, let's face it, is the sole purpose of these little get-togethers... and please dont insult my intelligence by claiming otherwise. The men know they're going to pay more money for the same products and services. Everyone there is walking into the situation knowing exactly what is expected of them. Does that make it right? Or even acceptable? Nope... but that's a moral judgment on my part, a game I'd rather not play... even in a gay bar on nights where blonds get in free (which I guess is about the closest I've seen to this in the "gaystream", as Alex calls it).

But I guess that's supposed to make it all okay anyway. Yet another brave step for social equality.

Let me amplify that response a bit.

Yes, of course they can. But tell me: what does that accomplish?

Sean, seriously - you're not making sense anymore. Get some sleep.


Yasmin, just because you're avoiding the question will not make it go away.

What will this policy accomplish in terms of the social equality you claim you want? Or is this your best solution? Punish those you dont like and dont want to be around?

Hmm. Where have we heard that before?

Um, Sean?

Read your first response. Seriously. Just read it. Way at the top. You've just stated the opposite of what you said there.

I think you've lost your way, dude. Sleep it off.

Would you two get a room! She can cut your balls off and you can sew them back on for more abuse. There. Happy queer couple.

ps Sean Martin, your comics are cute but I don't know how you remain on this blog! It is so female/trans/genderqueer centric and you are so not.

Got me, ace. But if it bothers you, then recommend to Bil that he drop it. Maybe they can find someone else to take its place that will suit the political agenda here far better.

Whatever, Yasmin. As with everyone else, you're right, I'm wrong, go you. You obviously dont want to *answer* the questions, so I can only assume you *have* no answers.

A lot of strip clubs don't charge female customers any cover charge.

Constitutionally, that's not discrimination against men. Anyway you slice it, it just isn't. Clubs aren't a public service. Men aren't incurring any damages from it. Under the law, this does not count as sex discrimination.

Now what about the one lesbian bar charging a 3x cover charge. Is that discrimination? Well no, because aside from bars not providing a public service, men still have their choice of bars to go to that cater to them and not to lesbians.

The equal protection clause doesn't legislate literal legislates equal protection of the laws. If NY state passed a law mandating Ladies Night that would probably be unconstitutional.

And I'm thinking the "No Fags Allowed" sign wasn't viewed as quaint because it said "Fags" and because gays were barred from a lot of places. Maybe to the point of violating their right to freedom of association as was the case in NY at the time.

acoolerclimate | September 8, 2010 5:54 PM

Here's a real world example. I'm a gay man. I have a bunch of straight women friends. They all want to go out to Ladies Night because it's free for them. They want me to go, because we have fun together, and I can laugh with them about all the straight guys in the room, and perhaps help them meet someone. But just because I'm male, I have to pay the charge, but none of my women friends have too. This makes no sense that simply because I have a penis, I have to pay. And I don't even get the benefit that the Straight guys do!

Sure I could just not go, but then I lose out on having fun with my friends. But why does my fun have to involve paying more than them? It makes no sense to me.

To me the bigger picture is how everything about our lives is about sex. Good grief. I can't marry my partner because we are of the same sex. I couldn't do things as a kid because of my sex. Etc, etc, etc. All people see of me is MALE. It would be nice if just for awhile, we could be people instead of men and women and all treated the same.

As for haircuts, I agree men and women shouldn't be charged different. To me it should be the length of time and degree of difficulty involved, regardless of gender.

hair today gone tomorrow | September 8, 2010 6:35 PM

Ironically it is!!! The "argument" for more cost for women than men's haircuts is that women's hair is long so their session takes longer whereas men who just get a 5 minute buzz with the razor. Very Ricky and Lucy man had short hair and woman has long hair 1950s concept; but that is exactly what you said! A more fair system is to run the meter for all customers -- the more time, the more money regardless of gender or anything other than the job of the hair. Simple.

When it comes to pricing, successful businesses don't think "What's a fair price for this product based on what's being sold? Let me add product, the time it took to prepare it, the wage I'm paying workers, overhead and advertising, plus a reasonable profit margin." Instead they think "What's the most I can get people to pay for this?" Gender pricing for hair cuts may have, at one point, had something to do with the time it takes to cut someone's hair, but now I'd guess it has more to do with the fact that women are willing to pay more.

I used to work at a Subway back in the day, and I figured out while doing inventory that the mark-up was completely different for different products. Sandwiches were sold for around 2x the price of ingredients, which is fair considering the time that goes into making them, plus overhead, while soda would sell for $1.50 but, with cup and drink, cost about 4 cents to produce. That's because people would pay $1.50 for a Coke, but not 30x the price of the ingredients of a sandwich.

I'm guessing that's another motivator in these ladies nights. Men have higher disposable income and are willing to pay to be around women. Add in the fact that women are paying more for hair, make-up, and clothes to go out than men are.

Not that gender-based pricing is a justifiable system, but it exists for a reason. It's not like Hollander said, feminists agitated for drink discounts because women deserve them or something.

A recent incident occurred in Sweden where a club known for blatantly discriminating against men, was "outed" by a man who tried to buy tickets for a "ladies only" stripper revue. He was denied access. Many in his country rallied against the 58 year old man. This is typical feminism rearing its ugly head. It seems his own gender did not support him. Well, feminism never did set out for equality. In fact feminism set out to break up family and emasculate males. The agenda is clearly anti-male and has an objective to dehumanize anything male. Go to any gay nightclub and it will be loaded with women (straight, bi, lesbian,etc). Women get into any place they want, even men's only locker rooms. Men on the other hand cannot get into strip clubs where guys are dancing for "the ladies"; male reporters cannot interview female athletes while the women are in the locker room...the list goes on. As a gay activist male, I do not take my female friends with me to gay clubs on stripper nights. They do not ask me out when they go out to see male revues or male strippers or have girls' only parties. They respect their "females only" gender privacy but do not expect us as males (gay or straight) to have the same gender privacy or exclusivity. This is blatant bias. So to combat this, I do my part by kicking sexist-feminism in the butt by not facilitating the sexism. In fairness, I also think social venues should have gentlemens' nights where men get in for free or get free drinks or at least half priced drinks. Women or "ladies" have just as much or more disposable income as men, so if you want equal rights, start paying for our meals or opening doors for us. Fair is fair! I hope the man in Sweden who was discriminated against by the cabaret operators sues and wins. Let this start a domino effect where men start to wake up and demand equal rights, equal access and justice.