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October 3, 2008

Are ladies nights unfair?

oooo martini martiniThe ladies over at the Consuming Interests blog have a few questions for us, gang.

Don't know if you've heard or not, but a New York judge ruled that bars in that state can run Ladies Night Specials if they want to. Well that's a relief.

Here are the questions Consuming Interests has for us: What do you think? Does anyone out there --- guys or gals --- patronize Ladies Nights? Do these specials serve a purpose, or are they unfair? 

I'll tell ya what I think. And this may come as a surprise to some of you ... 

But I think bars can offer whatever specials they want. And if the men think they're being treated unfairly on Ladies Night, they can go somewhere else. Nobody's tying them to a chair and forcing regular-priced drinks down their throats.

I think it's ludicrous this issue even had to go to court. That in itself scares me. We need a court to tell us this?

Has the whole world gone crazy?* Am I the only one who gives a $#@ about the rules?

(Photo courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) 

*Careful now -- this hilarious re-enactment of the classic scene has plenty of profanity.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:06 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Sam, my grievance with "Ladies Nights" is not that they are discriminatory (although they are), it's that they're...wait for it...sexist. I mean in the old-fashioned (think 1974) sense of the term, as something that wouldn't and shouldn't exist in an enlightened world.

Are they harmless? Well, compared to a war or a bankuptcy, sure.
But I think things like this are insidious, in that they perpetuate the idea that women (and can we please call them women?) are attractive objects to stuff bars with for the amusement of men.

And I will preemptively object to that familiar conversation-stopping refrain, "I guess some people have way too much time on their hands."
There's always enough time to point out idiocy and injustice, wherever it exists.

The guy who filed this claim is a psycho male rights activist who clearly doesn't get that the whole point of ladies night is to attract women AND men.

When you read between the lines it isn't unfair: the ladies come in large groups with their girls for cheaper drinks, and the men come knowing there will be better chances of them getting laid.

Usually the ladies night drinks are pint-size versions of the real deal anyways.

What planet does this dude live on?

Look, it's a transaction. Everyone going to Ladies' Night knows they are entering into an unspoken contract.

Women: you are agreeing to get drink deals in return for your presence, which is being used to draw men...and women. (I'll get back to this point later.)

Men: you are agreeing to not benefit from the deals the women get in return for their presence, which upends the usually top-heavy male/female ratio in most bars and clubs. This is a good thing for obvious reasons.

So on the men's side, where's the problem? Single guys are happy—more women to interact with. Taken guys are happy—they get to send their S.O.s to the bar all night to get drinks cheap. So any guy not in agreement with the above understanding is way too attached to some misguided principles and/or likely in the wrong bar. (May I recommend The Hippo?)

Plus, what complicates the situation (and cuts into the sexism argument) is that it's not just men who like more women in bars. Women like more women in bars. It says to them, "This place is hip, safe, a good place for camaraderie, and I won't be the only girl on the dance floor." When the male/female ratio drops too low, women leave. They don't like a sausage-fest either, and while they're happy to be hit on, they don't want to feel hunted. Ladies Night means they can have fun with their friends and at least get cheap drinks for the trouble of suffering our overeager attentions.

Are some Ladies' Nights sleazy? Sure. But for the most part, people know what they're agreeing to, and everyone wins.

So any guy not in agreement with the above understanding is way too attached to some misguided principles and/or likely in the wrong bar. (May I recommend The Hippo?)

Whoa, Patchen ... did you just say it's okay if someone doesn't get a special, because he is gay?

I never thought about it this way before, but maybe Roy Den Hollander has a point when he says Ladies Night is discriminatory ... albeit an entirely different kind of point than the one he made in the lawsuit, but still.

Lisa said: "The guy who filed this claim is a psycho male rights activist"

I don't know if she knows how right she is. Roy Den Hollander has been "psycho" about men's rights and discrimination against men since the 70's and he has been championing litigation since at least the early 80's, if not earlier.

As a lady/woman, I never had a problem with taking advantage of "Ladies Night" drink specials. I commented on this over at BaltAmour, but I was being pretty flip.

And I get what Patchen is saying, in that in can potentially be a "win-win" for single straights under a certain age.

However, there is a bigger part of me that agrees with Gorelick about the sexism part of it. In college, we had RULES for Ladies Night, because the potential for victimization is high. I can joke about Ladies Nights now, but my younger self honestly had to be concerned with the whole premise - getting young women liquored up for the entertainment of young men. This has the potential to set up all sorts of predatory situations. I have definitely seen in happen - I did, after all, go to school where and when "Girls Gone Wild" got it's start.

Wow I didn't even think of the implications this has on gay men.

I guess it could be considered discriminatory in that respect.

But that only reinforces Sam's point about bar's having rights to choose their specials. A bar also chooses if it'll be a gay bar, a topless bar, have specific sports affiliations, serve certain types of beer, etc...

To what extent are those other things discrimination??

Read what I wrote again there, Liz. I said my hypothetical sourpuss was too attached to his principles and in the wrong bar. So I wanted to point him to someplace where he might feel more appreciated. :-)

In all seriousness, this was a silly lawsuit. The original piece in The New Yorker demonstrates what a misogynist Den Hollander, the guy who started this whole mess, was. And in reality, the good folk at The Hippo would toss this guy—or anyone like him—out on his ass in seconds, to loud applause.

Wasn't he the same guy that sued the Anaheim Angels (er...sorry, the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim) because they gave away pink purses (but only to women) on Mother's Day a couple years ago?

Lisa, in retrospect, this may not really be textbook discrimination, because the bars that have ladies nights aren't saying that they *won't* sell drinks to men, gay or otherwise --- just like giving an incentive to senior citizens, or something, right?

But the message is wrong, like gorelick and aeb already said. I hate the idea of someone designing a special to get women inebriated so they're easier targets for guys. Yuck.

Props to aeb for some really good points. The upside of Ladies' Night is that it makes it easy for women to hang out together and have a good time. The downside is that it can make them targets—illustrating the unfortunate reason women have to be careful going out in general, and not just on Ladies' Night.

Liz Kay,

"I hate the idea of someone designing a special to get women inebriated so they're easier targets for guys."

A bar creates a situation with the hope of drawing more paying customers. These days there too many legal reasons not let anyone get drunk, particularly the liabilties associated if their customer is going drive after they leave.

Otherwise women should take responsiblity on how much they drink no matter where they are, and should always be aware of where they are..

The famous Forrest Gump quote: "stupid is as stupid does"


Warning: controversial subject to follow:

The argument that having different entry standards is kind of a legal hot potato. If you can do that why not charge one ethnic group a cover and not charge another. In principle it is exactly the same as having different entry standards for men and women. So - in essence, yeah it should probably be illegal if you want to get down to brass tacks.

However, if you are free to discriminate, and let's be frank here - all fun aside that's what it is, why can't you be free to let patrons smoke in your bar? Or serve foie gras?


"However, if you are free to discriminate, and let's be frank here - all fun aside that's what it is, why can't you be free to let patrons smoke in your bar? Or serve foie gras? "

Smoking in the bar exposes your employees to smoke. I would be okay with a ruling that you can allow smoking in your bar if only the owners work there.

Foie gras is illegal to sell in some places -- so is mescaline, hashish, and even alcohol.

I think men should wait tables at Hooters...

oh yeah.
We need Ladies Night cuz the feeling is right.

JMG - If men waited tables at Hooters would it still be Hooters? Would anyone besides Sessa go there regularly?

Joanne - I was trying to make a point about freedom, and yes I was aware that even alcohol is banned in some places.

Why doesn't someone bounce into ACLU's court, they'll challenge anything that limits anarchy.

gorelick wrote:There's always enough time to point out idiocy and injustice, wherever it exists.

That anyone would describe a "Ladies Night" promotion as injustice is, indeed, idiocy.

I point this out because, you know, I have the time...

gorelick & Bucky,

In our decidely unhumble, if not brazen opinions, we all seem to be able to find time to split the proverbal hairs.

I know I have time to always split the proverbial hairs, and infinitives, too.

I was really hoping to call down the Foie Gras police. I am kind of disappointed.

Let me just tell you about being FORCED to participate in an all-you-can drink ladies night.

I went to the former Champions over on Perring and Joppa on a first date, no clue what they're called now. We got there around 7pm. I got a beer. We played pool. Everything was great, until around 9pm the bouncer came over and said "it's $10 for all-you-can drink, it's ladies night starting at 9."

I told him I was fine, I really wasn't drinking anymore, and no thanks.

He said that in order for me to stay, I HAD to pay the $10. My date, being a gentleman, paid it. I was ready to have an all out throwdown with the bouncer right then and there (didn't matter that he was twice my size).

Suppose I was a designated driver??

Suppose I didn't drink at all?

Basically, because I was female, in order for me to stay, I had to pay $10. ABSOLUTELY ABSURD!!

I hope that its a consolation but I know that a tiny little bar near Rivera Beach (AA County) called Coconut Charlies has Man's Night on Wednesdays ... why don't you start patonizing them to promote parity between the sexes, LOL :-)

All I know is that the financial experts say I'm still getting paid $0.70 for every dollar a MAN makes. I need the drink specials.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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