The argument against ladies nights

A judge rules that gender-based discounts are not unconstitutional -- but is it really a victory for women?

Topics: Gender, Broadsheet, Gender Roles, Love and Sex,

The argument against ladies nights

The women of New York get to continue to enjoy “Ladies Night” specials, thanks to a judge who earlier this week struck down a lawsuit alleging that attempts to attract chicks with discounted drinks are unconstitutional. It’s a decision plenty will no doubt be toasting tonight — but I fail to see this as a victory for femalekind.

In the past, judges have ruled in similar cases across the country that “Ladies Nights” are A-OK. The legal argument is one thing — and a very complicated thing at that — but just how okay is it politically and philosophically?

Clubs promote drink discounts to attract more women — because that means more men will show up. I believe the technical term for this is: Sex sells. So, dudes end up paying full price for cover and drinks and, in many scenarios, they are essentially helping to pay the way of the female patrons. They are paying for lady-tainment, whether it’s explicit or not. It’s a lot like allowing a man to buy you a drink — he is paying for your attention and time. A lot of women are perfectly comfortable with that and others, like myself, not so much — but I’d argue there should at least be some consistency there.



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.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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