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Club refuses woman free entry on ladies’ night because of “unfeminine” dressing

But is that the real issue here?

Nyi Nyi Thet | May 2, 2016 @ 04:08 pm

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So last week, an undergraduate from NUS named Deesha Menon took to Facebook to complain about an encounter she and her friend had at fashiontv Club, or f.Club, a night club located at Clarke Quay.

Here’s her post:


And in case you can’t see it, here’s what she had to say:

On Wednesday night, 20th April 2016, three friends and I (all girls) went to f.Club, and despite it being ladies night — which is universally known to entail free entry as long as your IC reads ‘F’ for female — one of my friends was denied free entry on account of being “inappropriately dressed” (and here I am quoting more than one bouncer, including the one “in charge”).

There are 2 flagrant problems with this:
1 – a shockingly unfair inconsistency in club rules and ethos
2 – blatant sexism and gender-identity discrimination that is archetypal of club culture

First and foremost, the term “inappropriate” is a circumstantial one and by virtue of this alone, one would expect that rules pertaining to appropriateness be spelt out in black and white.

Under the “dress-code” tab on the official f.Club website it states: “NO EFFORT, NO ENTRY. STRICTLY NO SLIPPERS, NO SHORTS, NO SINGLET” (retrieved from: http://f-club.sg/hp/about/club-rules/), a rule that is not gender-specific. My friend was dressed in jeans (like me) and close-toed high top sneakers (like me). The only difference was that I wore a cropped top that bore my midriff and she was in a long-sleeved sweater.

We both complied to the dress code, yet she was asked to pay a $30 entry fee and I was let in for free. Logically, if she did not adhere to the stipulated dress code as stated on their website, they should not have let her in at all. Logically, paying $30 to enter a club despite being “inappropriately dressed” is bribery, and an authority that not only condones but demands this is corrupt.

But no semblances of logic surfaced in our dealings with ~5 members of staff, so that is not that point. My friend was not “inappropriately dressed” as the bouncers repeatedly and brainlessly asserted; she was not dressed “femininely”, and it is nothing short of alarming that in our support of sexist institutions such as f.Club, we have allowed rightfully detached perceptions of “feminine”, “provocative” and “appropriate” to fuse and become disturbingly interchangeable.

Are these honestly the sort of institutions we are supporting?

“NO EFFORT, NO ENTRY” is not only hypocritical but is also highly ineffectual, and while changing it to “no SEX APPEAL, no entry” would be far more honest, it doesn’t make the club culture any less abhorrent. Deciding whether or not to let a woman into a club for free based on the type and quantity of clothing she has on is almost like flinging meat into a lions’ den; if you’re not fleshy then you remain in the pail.

Patronising these places only breeds a society that shelves men and women into predator and prey, or subject and object, which is not only feudal and archaic but is regressive, unfair and fundamentally disgusting. Notwithstanding ridiculously arbitrary rules, an “appropriately dressed” woman is far from one who is baring her skin.

It is repugnant to deny a woman who is legally and sexually female her right to free club entry on a Wednesday just because she is not dressed provocatively and caked in makeup — for reasons that go far beyond a persons’ decision to identify with social expectations of what both men and women should dress like. Yes, my friend is ‘butch’ and so she dresses “like a boy”, but what about the women who are body conscious? Women who are conservative? Women who are COLD…?

I am furious, and I am not the only one that should be. Far more repulsive than an institution that propagates gender stereotyping and objectification is one that hides behind ludicrous “dress code” excuses. Not only is it offensive to women who cannot and choose not to conform to societal expectations of what a “club-ready” woman should look like, it also breeds a culture where woman are expected to put their bodies on show.

Stop the proliferation of institutions and their culture that discriminates, denies the fluidity of gender, and commodifies bodies.

And here’s the TL;DR of what she said:

– Four girls, including her, went to f.Club on ladies’ night, and one was told to pay the $30 cover charge.

– The reason given by multiple bouncers: she was “inappropriately dressed” — she was in a long-sleeved sweater and jeans.

– She points out that their dress code is no singlets, no shorts and no slippers, and while she and her friend both complied with that, her friend still wasn’t allowed in for free.

– Her complaint was that the club is corrupt for accepting a $30 “bribe” (because her friend was deemed to be inappropriately dressed), propagates gender stereotyping and objectification, and is breeding a culture where women are expected to put their bodies on show.

Now, it looks like the crux of Deesha’s problem with the fiasco centres around the sexist treatment of her friend, who was unfairly and arbitrarily deemed “not lady enough” to get the same treatment as her fellow women customers.

The problem with the outrage

It is, of course, entirely understandable that Deesha, or anyone else actually, would feel indignant when one of their friends are so blatantly discriminated against.

Despite the deplorable treatment and weak reasoning for said treatment, at the end of the day, f.Club is a private establishment that has every right to deny service to whomever they wish.

It could also be argued that the club wasn’t transparent about their dress code rules, or perhaps the subtleties behind their “ladies’ night” rules. False advertising? Take it up with CASE, then.

Back to what we were saying. The solution Deesha offers to the discrimination is one that, simply put, amounts to boycott:

“Patronising these places only breeds a society that shelves men and women into predator and prey, or subject and object, which is not only feudal and archaic but is regressive, unfair and fundamentally disgusting.”

Now, Deesha does not seem to be calling for a boycott of every club that offers ladies night — but here’s the thing: that’s kind of the issue.

We see an inherent disconnect here: on one hand, Deesha calls for equal treatment towards every female patron, but on the other, the foundation of the event (ladies’ night) itself is built on an inherently-stilted treatment of the genders.

We all pretty much know and accept that the concept of “ladies’ night” is a dual marketing ploy by clubs to attract female patrons with offers of free entry and/or free drinks, and to attract male customers with the subsequent influx of (attractive) women in the club…

… which kind of typifies what Deesha found problematic in f.Club. We quote, once again:

“…a society that shelves men and women into predator and prey, or subject and object, which is not only feudal and archaic but is regressive, unfair and fundamentally disgusting.”

So would zooming in on one particular club, with admittedly medieval gender notions, be enough, especially when the entire concept of ladies’ night is built on foundations that espouses these types of values?

In our view, doing that is quite majorly missing the point.

 

So, what should be done?

There has been legislation passed in certain parts of the U.S. and the UK to ban clubs from offering ladies’ night promotions on account of discriminatory gender pricing.

Closer to home, a Hong Kong court recently ruled that ladies’ nights, and events of that ilk, were considered inherently discriminatory.

The ruling was in response to a male customer to a club in Mongkok filing a lawsuit for what he considered gender-based discounts at its ladies’ night events.

The Hong Kong bar and club association has since expressed its discontent as well as its intent to challenge the ruling, which is a good indicator of what Singaporean bars and clubs might do if such restrictive measures were implemented.

Whether or not a legislative measure is the right way to go is anyone’s guess, but calling out a particular club for more forcefully implementing the subtext of a ladies’ night event, to us, ignores the larger problems presented by the very existence of ladies’ night.

 

Top image from f.Club’s Facebook page

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About Nyi Nyi Thet

Thet has a chronic fear of teenage girls laughing at him. He sometimes puts on a cap in his room and yells “Gryffindor”.

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