Is it sexist to let women into bars for free? | The Tylt

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Is it sexist to let women into bars for free?

Just like any other business, bars and clubs' main objective is to make money. One might then wonder why these institutions wouldn't charge women and men the same cover price–by letting women in for free, aren't bar owners actively giving up half (or more) of their profit from covers?

Not if they make up that money and more through alcohol sales, particularly from the male patrons trying to meet the flood of female bar-goers let in for free.  According to the bar and clubs' logic, more customers spend more money when more female patrons are present.

When women are given uninhibited admittance to bars–and men have to pay for the same access–men are paying not only for entry to the bar but also for access to women. In doing so, bars are treating women as a commodity, akin to alcohol for sale. At best, this dehumanizes women and treats them as objects. But at worst, it can be seen as a form of new-age prostitution–none of which women asked for or agreed to. 


To be fair, women aren't always the only ones getting a free pass. In fact, who gets in for free and who gets drinks for free has much more to do with what you look like than your gender.

When responding to the question: "Why do night clubs let women enter for free and make men pay, and not vice versa?" on Quora, Martí Sánchez, a night club-regular, recounted his own interaction with a bartender. After asking the bartender if he thought the practice of letting women in for free was demeaning for both men and women, the bartender responded by flipping the question:

Bartender: 'Listen, did you pay to get in tonight? And last week?'
Sánchez: 'Uhh… Actually no, I did not.'
Bartender: 'Why do you think is that? Because we are friends?'
Sánchez: 'Well… I thought so. We are friends, right?'
Bartender: 'Yeah, but that’s not the point. You get in for free because you are 6′6 and you have an accent. You get in because you are a college athlete. You get in because, if you get in, hot women want to come here. Hot women bring their less-hotter friends. And all women bring less-hot guys. Then we make money.'

Bars want people to enjoy themselves so that they will spend more money on alcohol. Part of having a good time while out means meeting people you are interested in. It's in bars' interest to give free access to attractive men and women, not women alone. So as long as you're okay with buying into this system, take the free pass if you're given it and have fun.


For the state of Minnesota, letting women into bars for free is a blatant violation of equal access as it pertains to gender. In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed gender discrimination charges against five bars. According to Jezebel's Katy Kelleher, the chargers were filed:

...on the grounds that clubs are denying men the right to 'full and equal enjoyment' of their businesses. 'Gender-based pricing violates the [state] Human Rights Act,' said Commissioner James Kirkpatrick.

So not only is the practice sexist towards women, but it also can be seen as discriminatory towards men. Kelleher also points out that "ladies' nights" perpetuate antiquated gender roles, stereotypes and objectification:

...because men are still expected to make more money, they are also expected to pay for us ladies. Ladies' Night can be seen as a holdover from the time when men were the sole providers.

Kelleher continues her reporting by noting that it's only fair for women to be let into bars for free and to have their drinks purchased for them. In a world where women only make 80.5 cents to every dollar a man makes, women ought to have more concessions than just free drinks:

...I have a friend who justifies her 'make 'em pay' approach to dating with this argument: 'When we are no longer paid 80 cents to the dollar, then I will pay for myself.' Women are discriminated against, so let's right the balance with cheaper drinks and outdated dating standards–or so the logic goes. 

In this sense, "ladies' nights" are just a way of paying women back what they're owed. One Brooklyn bar openly acknowledged its motivations for ladies' night was to help close the gap. According to Mic's Tom McKay, the bar:

...wrote that the gender pay gap is 'some shameful shit' and urged patrons to help them 'level the playing field, even if it is just for one night. Women deserve better. Recognizing this discrepancy is just a start.'
Is it sexist to let women into bars for free?
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