14 Junio 2017 11:46
The regional government of Spain wants to ban nightclubs from allowing free entry just for being female; a pioneering proposal that may set an important precedent
Late-night entertainment venues will no longer be able to attract clients to their doors using the ‘girls get in for free’ card. At least that is the proposal the Basque government has just…
It’s Saturday night and you’re with your mates queuing up at the local nightclub. Three girls and four boys. When you get to the door, surprise! Girls, you’re in luck. You get in for free. All of you. Why? Just because you’re girls. I remember this happening as a teenager. Standing in front of the bouncer, oblivious to what we’d done to deserve this apparent privilege (which would later turn out to be anything but).
In my group of friends we would agree to split the price for the ‘boys’ so entry would work out cheaper for us all. Sometimes we even had a little cash leftover from what our parents had given us to get a few extra cocktails in. At 16 we didn’t stop to to think much about it: we were too euphoric at the prospect of getting in and hitting the dancefloor.
But as we got older and became more aware, we began to realise what it really meant to be there, as a woman, dancing away without having to pay anything. At least not in money. Your presence, or rather that of your body, paid in other ways. We have since learnt that it was our bodies that footed the bill: we were the product, the merchandise and, of course, the publicity.
But this practice is not a thing of the past. In fact, it is used as much today as when we were teenagers, and as it was when our dads were ‘taking’ our mums out to dance. These ridiculous policies have stood the test of time and are becoming even more scandalous. The recent controversy with a nightclub in Barcelona that offered free entry, a free drink and 100 euros for women who weren’t wearing any knickers just goes to show: how a practice, which is already discriminatory and degrading beyond belief, can get even more so.
Now, in the Basque region of Spain, the government is drafting a law that will put an end to this discrimination, forcing clubs to set a single and unalterable entry price; a pioneering measure aimed at preventing any kind of discrimination regarding gender, race, origin or religion.
‘The company can set its own prices, but they have to be the same for everyone. Although less common, it’s still fairly typical to see: men €25, girls free entry. That will no longer be possible,’ stressed Aitor Uriarte, the Basque government’s director of gambling and entertainment, in a statement to the TV channel Ser.
If you come in wearing no knickers - entry+drink free+100€ We demand this be withdrawn
Si vienes sin bragas entrada+copra gratis+100€
— Dones Juristes (@donesjuristes) 22 de febrero de 2017
If the bill is passed, it will mean a small victory, an example to follow in the abolishment of discriminatory practices. The ‘ladies in for free’ policy is merely the residue of a systematic sexism which is present across all spheres, and exacerbated when it comes to night entertainment. Disguised as an act of generosity towards women, it is really just a way to legitimise male-chauvinist violence.
The same club that’s doling out drinks on the house and letting women in for free, because of what’s between your legs, is protecting gropers and encouraging sexual assault and harassment, for the same reason, to get between your legs. The reward for wearing no knickers or shorter skirts comes at a high price with women being blamed for their own rape. After all, a young lady ‘with a skirt that short…’ What were you expecting.
Marisa Fernández from Dones Juristes recalls a recent ruling against a bar in Albacete accused of discriminatory action. ‘It was the first time a sentence had been passed in a case of this nature,’ she says. The court ruled that the bar pay a 1500-euro fine for gender discrimination. Although approached from a male perspective - the plaintiff was a man who could not understand why women didn’t have to pay - it did set some kind of precedent.
Nonetheless, the argument of ‘the poor guys who have to pay’ is not valid, contests Fernández. ‘This system of oppression and submission is a product of a patriarchal society, which means the oppression is always aimed at the same target, women. There’s no other way of looking at it.’