Why so little concern about Ladies Night?
So one of those nutty misogynist douchebags who sues clubs for having “Ladies Nights”—which said misogynist douchebags always paint as a feminist conspiracy to relieve them of their money—lost his case on the grounds that he’s full of shit. Though, to be fair, the judge used more legalistic language to express this idea. Feminists chortled, because we don’t like men who carry on about how they’re victims of an oppressive matriarchy because they don’t currently have a submissive 18-year-old attached to their cocks while another brings them a beer. Those men are often a pain in our asses, because they literally have nothing in their lives but hating women, and so they look for various ways to be a pain in your ass. Also, a lot of them have an ex-wife or three that they torture by constantly suing them (using the children as an excuse) to get out of child support or to gain the right to control their ex-wives’ lives. They suck. Watching them fail is a pure, unadulterated pleasure.
Which is why I was sad to see Tracy Clark-Flory give into the centrist urge by creating a strawfeminist to attack.
I’m surprised there haven’t been more feminists arguing against ladies nights in the wake of this ruling. Roy Den Hollander, the man who brought the suit, is not the most sympathetic character — Jezebel’s Irin Carmon referred to him as “Russian wife-abusing, Women’s Studies’ program-suing, young-lady-preying Roy” — but there is so much about ladies nights that runs counter to feminist philosophy. Gender-based pricing, really? If the roles were reversed, we would be in full-on protest mode. Clearly, women’s rights activists have bigger fish to fry — but this is a golden opportunity to disabuse the Roy Den Hollanders of the world of their distorted view of feminism.
There are so many misconceptions in that paragraph. First of all is the idea that feminists could disabuse Roy Den Hollander of any notion he has about feminism. As far as I can tell, Hollander thinks any woman who uses her mouth for anything but sucking his cock and uses her hands for anything but making him a sandwich is a “feminist”—a group that encompasses exactly 100% of women in the world. Which is to say that Hollander is just a very pure misogynist, and he simply attacks feminism to create some plausible deniability about that. Also, he’s not the sharpest pencil in the box. Hollander went to Russia and married a young Russian woman (I’m unclear if he found her through a mail order bride business, but he’s definitely the kind of guy who is drawn by their deceitful pitches that make Russian women out to be their fantasy of woman-as-submissive-doll), and was shocked—shocked I tell you—when she, upon getting her green card, divorced his ass faster than you can say, “Hey, maybe those stereotypes of Russian women are a load of horseshit created to relieve American misogynists of their money!” There’s much we can surmise from Hollander from this story and its aftermath (a series of lawsuits aimed at what he perceives are feminist institutions, from women’s studies programs to ladies night). For instance, we can guess that Hollander is the guy who thinks the stripper really likes him.
But Tracy’s argument that feminists should make a case out of ladies night in general also doesn’t compute. It’s not like feminists are for ladies night. Most feminists I’ve seen who’ve bothered to register an opinion on this point out truthfully that ladies night is about getting more women to the bar in order to get more men to the bar, and is just generally insulting to everyone. Why we’re not protesting in the streets over this fact is due to a couple of factors. One is that this entire thing is stupid. It is literally beneath our attention, even the attentions of feminists who have blogs to fill and enjoy doing pieces on some more light, pop culture stuff.
Feminist usually only have the mental bandwidth to address this stuff when there’s someone out there who needs advocacy and we’re in the position to offer that advocacy. Because of this, it’s often important to distinguish between when the patriarchy results in actual harm and when it’s just producing tastelessness. And ladies night is firmly in the latter category. It’s a victimless crime. Bars that find they’re turning into sausage fests rely on ladies night to bring more women in for their douchebag clientele to leer at and hit on. The men aren’t victimized because they have to pay more. They’re the intended beneficiaries of the system. The women actually get the short end of that stick, because the price they pay for the cheaper drinks is getting leered at and hit on by douchebags, which is why many women that might find themselves as feminist commentators quickly learn to avoid those bars. But most of the women in this situation have the agency to leave the bar is they’re not willing to pay the douchebag price to get cheap drinks. I’d probably be more concerned if there weren’t other places for women to go to get their drink and dance and flirt on with their friends, but in the real world there are often many options. I actually think it’s good for bars that are like this to advertise ladies night, because that’s as close to hanging a sign outside your bar that says, “You’ll probably get sexually harassed here, so please take that into account before patronizing our business.” Since sexual harassment hasn’t come to an end in our society, fair warning has to be seen as a step in the right direction.
I’m not making the tedious argument of, “Don’t you have more important things to worry about?” That argument is usually whipped out by someone who is uncomfortable with the issue and is trying to shut you up. I’m just saying that it’s genuinely hard to care about a situation where everyone involved is not only a grown adult, but also not really experiencing much in terms of social pressure or coercion. This isn’t like critiques of businesses that sexually objectify their employees, because those employees are in a position where they need to make money. This isn’t like critiques of oppressive beauty or fashion standards, where women often feel like they have to comply in order to get along in society. The people being exploited here have every right and reason to say no. The pleasure incentive at those bars is questionable, unless you enjoy trafficking in retrograde sexist stereotypes, bad music, and crappy cocktails. There’s no cost incurred by the public at large because of indulgence in these questionable pleasures. They’ve been given fair warning. At a certain point, you have to say that’s their business and not ours.